Groups protesting Philadelphia outdoor feeding ban go to federal court

In Federal Court today, Mayor Michael Nutter defended his ban on feeding hungry people in Philadelphia parks.  Nutter says meals should be handed out inside where those in need can get other help at the same time. The policy is facing a serious challenge.

Mayor Michael Nutter was the first to testify, saying feeding the homeless outdoors is undignified and does not give them the proper services.”There are multiple facilities right here in Center City and in other places across Philadelphia, and if we work together and work in a collaborative spirit, we can help insure that people get the help and services that they need,” said Nutter, outside court after his testimony.Those who provide food to homeless and hungry people don’t agree. Adam Bruckner is one of them, celebrating 500 consecutive Mondays where he’s handed out meals on the parkway. He says the offer to move to a spot outside City Hall doesn’t work for him, and the plan doesn’t play well with the people he’s serving.”I didn’t understand how moving to the City Hall apron was a step towards ending homelessness,” said Bruckner. “It seemed like a way towards ending the visual nature of homelessness or noticing homelessness, but it didn’t seem like a practical way to help.”Cranford Coulter says he’s already figured out a way to get around the rule, which does not allow feeding more than three people at a time.”There’s some of us that will do a workaround trying to fulfill the letter of the law while completely breaking the spirit of it,” said Coulter. “Going out and distributing to two and three at a time in a way that then those people can distribute to two and three people at a time.”Coulter says there are some people who will violate the regulation directly as a show of civil disobedience.

The judge in the case will hear final arguments from both sides on Thursday morning and could decide to immediately issue a ruling on the issue.

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