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Woman sues over ban on feeding homeless people in parks

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BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. (AP) — A woman who was arrested for feeding homeless people in northwest Arizona is suing a local ordinance that regulates food sharing events in public parks.

Norma Thornton, 78, became the first person arrested under the Bullhead City ordinance in March for distributing prepared food from a van at Bullhead Community Park. His attorney said the lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, was part of a nationwide effort to enable people to feed those in need.

Criminal charges against Thornton were ultimately dropped, but she is seeking an injunction to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance which went into effect in May 2021.

“Bullhead City has criminalized kindness,” Thornton’s attorney, Suranjan San, told Phoenix TV station KPHO. “City Council has passed an ordinance that makes it a crime punishable by four months’ imprisonment to share food in public parks for charitable purposes.”

Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady said the ordinance only applies to public parks. He said churches, clubs and private properties are free to serve food to homeless people without permits.

Thornton owned a restaurant for many years before retiring to Arizona and said she wanted to use her cooking skills to help those less fortunate.

“I’ve always believed that when you have a lot, you should share,” Thornton said.

According to the Mohave Valley Daily News, Thornton said she continued to feed those in need from private property not far from the community park.

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