Group of Volunteers Come Out to Feed Homeless in El Cajon Despite Ban

A group of volunteers handed out more than 100 bags of supplies for the homeless Sunday afternoon, in defiance of a ban issued by the City of El Cajon.

Demonstrators handed out the supplies at Wells Park, just south of Interstate 8 near El Cajon Valley High School.

The City says the ban is part of an effort to try to stop the spread of Hepatitis A and the ban only applies to parks. Those with permits are allowed to feed the homeless within park limits.

"What we're saying is feeding them at city parks is a bad idea given the situation that we're in with the Hepatitis A outbreak, and the fact that it makes the place completely messy afterwards,” councilmember Ben Kalasho said Friday.

Homeless advocate Mark Lane organized Sunday’s event and said allowing people to be “malnourished” is not the way to fight the disease.

“You fight Hep A by providing facilities and services and vaccinations,” he told NBC 7. “And they're targeting the homeless community saying that if we share food with the homeless people, we're going to spread Hep A, but if we share food with you because you have an address, you're somehow inoculated. And that's why we're out here.”

There was a significant police presence in the park Sunday, but Lane said none of the volunteers were issued citations. In fact, he said, they weren't even approached by officers for violating the ban.

“In my mind, and I’m not a lawyer, but they just set a precedent that they're not going to enforce this ordinance. So are they going to enforce it next week when we're back out here next week?" Lane said. 

Councilman Ben Kalasho told NBC 7 the police were focusing on the Mother Goose Parade Sunday, but they will definitely enforce the ordinance if the feedings persist. "We'd be weak if we didn't follow through with it," he said.

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