PROTEST PICNIC: Advocates for feeding the homeless held one at City Hall when news surfaced of a punitive ordinance proposed to get feeding programs out of city parks.

Surprise: An ad hoc committee stacked with downtown business interests thinks those who want to provide meals for the homeless should do so at a tent outside the city’s day homeless shelter more than six miles away, out on the fringe of the city near Granite Mountain on what used to be known as Confederate Boulevard.

So says an article in this morning’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about work of a study group that will report to the City Board Tuesday night.


The threat of a punitive ordinance to require a permit and fees to feed groups of people in city parks led to formation of this committee and, now, the idea of letting people pursue their charitable impulses far out of sight of the Riverfront Sculpture Garden. It will require additional shuttle services to cart people out to the Jericho Way facility for feeding (and presumably a return to wherever they choose to bunk for the night).

Anybody who read David Koon’s cover story about this subject could have predicted where this was going. Some Good Samaritans may continue their feeding mission at a storefront on Markham Street, though the schemers at City Hall seems to have ideas in mind to make that difficult, too with talk of “permitting” and other impediments.


The reporting this morning indicates something less than strong support for the idea from the groups that had provided regular meals under the Broadway Bridge near Riverfront Park until reconstruction forced an end to that. The no-feeding-in-the-park ordinance popped up coincidentally as bridge work nears an end with the prospect of the return of homeless people lining up for food beneath the bridge within view of City Hall, downtown convention facilities and generally more presentable people.

Key quote:


“This only works if the faith community currently providing meals is willing to partner with the city in this experiment,” said Gabe Holmstrom, who heads a nonprofit [the Downtown Little Rock Partnership] representing downtown businesses.

Translation: This works only if the people who’ve been ministering to the poor agree to take their charity work somewhere the civilized world doesn’t have to look at them. Otherwise, sterner measures might be required.