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Woman sues an Arizona city over her arrest for feeding homeless people

Woman sues an Arizona city over her arrest for feeding homeless people

An Arizona city has been sued by a former restaurant owner over her arrest for feeding homeless people.


Bullhead City officials claim that Norma Thornton, 78, violated an ordinance that forbade the offering of home-cooked meals in a city park without a permit, but the plaintiff and her attorneys argue that the law is unfair and unconstitutional.

According to attorneys with the Institute of Justice in a press statement, the permit requirements are “very burdensome.”

For instance, it needs a $1 million liability insurance policy, a fee and a deposit, and the request needs to be made five to 60 days before the desired time. Each 30-day period, only one permit may be obtained per person, and each permit is only valid for two hours.

“The city may, at most, permit the charitable sharing of food in one park for two hours, once a month. Additionally, no two permittees may use the same location within thirty days of each other,” according to attorneys.

According to the lawsuit, on March 8 at the Bullhead City Community Park, Thornton, who had relocated from Alaska to Arizona in search of warmer weather, was giving home-cooked food to the homeless.

This included individuals who were without a house and those who relied on food donations because they were having financial difficulties. Through experience, Thornton understood their situation.

Norma Thornton keeps giving because she knows how it feels to have nothing.

The lawsuit states that after her first husband passed away, she and her five children lived in an old school bus for six months while she searched for work. And it was people’s generosity at that time that saw her family through those difficult times.

“Norma still believes it is her job to help anyone she finds in need,” the lawsuit states.

“The idea of people being hungry makes me feel like I’m not having much of an impact. It’s not that much,” she cried in an IJ video

. “But at least some individuals have access to enough food to survive.”

However, the city officials claimed in a statement that her side of the story in the IJ video is “misleading.”

Mayor Tom Brady said, “Individuals are free to serve food to any homeless person at their place of residence, church or private property. Our ordinance applies to public parks only.”

Additionally, Bullhead City Police Chief Robert Trebes released a statement saying that “sealed prepackaged foods readily available from retail outlets and intended for consumption directly from the package” are not prohibited by the ordinance when used to feed the homeless in parks.

“If an individual or group wishes to serve hot prepared food, simply a city permit and proof of a food handler permit are necessary.”

The plaintiff’s side is skeptical of the city’s justification for the ordinance. The argument is that the city is merely attempting to evict homeless people from public parks. The plaintiff argues the ordinance violates Thornton’s 14th Amendment rights to charitable acts.

Diana Simpson, an attorney with the Institute of Justice, said in a statement that “the city has criminalized kindness.”

Read: Brittney Griner will serve 9 years in a Russian penal colony after her appeal was rejected

1 Comment

  1. Jay

    Mayor Tom Brady and those who passed that unconstitutional law have lost their humanity. Shame on them.
    Norma Thornton you are a saint, lots of love to you for your gracious and giving heart.

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