I just got word from the director of a non-profit organization here in Nashville that the police are still attempting to discourage people from feeding the homeless.
I live in a building with 16 other formerly homeless people, part of the Housing First program run by the City of Nashville. Being that some of the people in my building are newly off the streets, they have yet to assimilate to life off the streets, and so still need some assistance. One group that brought food to our building on occasion had stopped coming here, so I emailed them about it. The director told me that the people delivering the food to our building and other homeless people in downtown Nashville were being harassed by the police. This is how I responded to her email:
If money = speech, then food = speech as well. Cops, and really, the people they answer to, are not so interested in other people’s rights. And so long as you cave to the pressure placed on you by the police, you, I and everyone else loses their constitutional rights to things like freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of religion. I would implore you to stand up against “snarky comments” from the police. More over, I would encourage you to press back against this police tactic by taking the police department and city to court so to defend your rights, and the rights of the homeless. Some homeless that you service aren’t even in downtown proper. The formerly homeless people living in my building are few, but our needs are just as important as any other, mostly because we are taking ourselves out of the network of regular homeless services and are attempting to be more independent. Food is not as readily available to us, especially for the newcomers, who are fresh off the streets. We need your help more than ever, especially since the police are working against you, instead of with you. Please, don’t give in to the pressures of the police and other’s who could not care less about the homeless.