May 4, 2011

Little Late

Oatmeal and coffee had been served, supplies had been packed into the minivan, and the homeless had said their thank-you’s when the LAPD arrived. They arrived with seven cruisers and a city truck built for hauling away equipment of all sorts.

Here’s the funny part: Everyone would have been long gone but the minivan battery died so everyone was waiting for one of the hippies to pop the hood and figure it out and save the day.

So as late as the LAPD was to our free coffee and oatmeal line, a meeting between the Los Angeles Catholic Workers and the Los Angeles Police Department this morning was meant to be.

No one was arrested, and that’s because the pots were already packed away. A county health inspector said the food line was in violation of a few health codes, such as you can’t serve food on the sidewalk without a four-sided canopy, a sink and a portable bathroom.

Basically, you need a roach truck to do a legal curbside food giveaway, and that’s too costly for most charitable organizations.

The Los Angeles Catholic Workers do not plan to be in court May 18 for Jeff Dietrich’s arrest last week, but if the LAPD arrives before 8 a.m. Friday, there will be more arrests and more court dates.

Everyone knows the city can shut down the food line very quickly if it wants: Just keep making arrests, which appeared to be the plan this morning.   

The lead officer is Jack Richter. He directed me to Central Division Station last week for an interview as to why the city is shutting down free food giveaways in Skid Row since last summer. The front desk at Central Division put me in touch with someone and we’ve traded messages, so I hope to have that interview soon.

This morning had a lighthearted end, with a handful of my friends waving and singing “Happy Trails” as the police drove away.


A note: The waving and singing was the thing to video, which I didn't do, and shows just how green I am with pretty much anything other than a notebook and pen. Duh, singing doesn’t carry in photographs?:)


This is Part 3 of the city's effort to criminalize feeding the homeless in Skid Row. Here's Part 4.

15 comments:

Wine and Words said...

What a saga. I appreciate that you write this struggle with an applaudable lack of bitterness. Rather a quest to understand, in spite of biases. I am waiting the next installment, be it text, video, or photo!

Tori said...

I find this saga both intriguing and a bit shocking. I just wonder...as a tax payer, is this really how I want money to be spent? With the arrest of people serving coffee and oatmeal? Isn't there some gang ring or pedophile ring to bust? This series is bringing up many questions and many mixed emotions. I applaud you staying in the thick of "it" to get this story told. Well done.

The Words Crafter said...

Looking forward to the interview because I really would like to know why homeless people can't get food!

Brian Miller said...

nice...i look forward to both the interview and the court date...as this is rather fascinating...way to live on the edge ed...

Mark Dixon said...

Those with wealth and power think the poor and homeless have no allies, or none worth worrying about. They're wrong. There is an unseen player in this situation who is already a factor in the equation.

Aishah said...

In Kuala Lumpur, we have a lot of beggars on the street and the enforcement officers would come and haul them away to a welfare centre. There are still many that play cat and mouse with the enforcement authorities including illegal hawkers.

My personal opinion, there should be a proper system to help the poor and the needy. And I feel this can be worked out.

lucychili said...

is there a way to apply for a grant or support to buy the vans which would make things lawful?

it seems a very frustrating situation, perhaps something would crack if there was a news article about it because it seems like an illogical and unjust way to treat people doing good work.

perhaps the council could pay for some vans.

The Empress said...

Arresting people for feeding the HUNGRY????

Come.on.

She Writes said...

Can I say I just do NOT get it. What's wrong with us? Feeding the hungry. Bleh. Ugh. Speechless. Some times it's a messed up world all upside down.

Claudia said...

great - curious how this is going to develop...seems you have the same strict rules about food "things" like we have over here...origninally designed to protect people but on the other hand standing in the way of people who want to help..

Lynn said...

I've never heard of arrests due to feeding the hungry (in Canada). The shelters have restrictions on how the food has been prepared when you donate, but arrests?? I'll be continuing following your adventure Ed.

Bernie said...

Oh Ed don't ever stop trying to help the less fortunate. This post has lifted my spirit knowing you are not only helping others but pushing the edge to do it. Good Luck, call me if you need to be bailed out....:-)Hugs

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Why can't the Catholic church groups down there pitch in and give your group all the canopy, the portable toilet, sink, and whatever else? It really is a shame that with all the daily/weekly donations they get from their patrons that some of their money doesn't go to actually helping the needy. Also, a shame that government isn't living up to helping the needy by doing something as simple as allowing your group to feed the homeless.

Cye said...

My sentiment is the same as Bernie's above (including the hugs). :)

I'll chip in for the food truck. :)

GYPSYWOMAN said...

oh, yeah, and that's just exactly what law enforcement all over the nation needs to be doing to battle heavy crime - taking food away from the homeless and the hungry and arresting those who are selflessly feeding the homeless! is it time for us all to take to the streets and.........sorry, i digress!!! but what a sordid mess! and power to you and your friends who sacrifice to help others! please keep us "posted"! ;)