In another chapter of the state’s war against the homeless we have officials working for the city of St. Louis shutting down a church event that provided meals to the homeless:
ST. LOUIS • Churches on the Streets may have served its last hot supper. At least for now.
The city Health Department on Monday told organizers of the group that serves food to the homeless Monday nights at a vacant train depot near the St. Louis riverfront that they must stop serving hot food because they don’t have a permit.
The city’s edict came a day after the group was featured on the front page of the Post-Dispatch. The group has been providing home-cooked meals, clothing and supplies to the homeless for more than a year. Before each meal, Edward “Pastor Paul” Gonnella, a recovered crack addict and ex-convict, delivers short sermons to the homeless in hopes getting them off the streets.
Organizers thought they didn’t need a permit to serve food because they have been meeting at the old Cotton Belt Rail Depot, which is private property.
Not so, says Pat Mahoney, an environmental health supervisor with the city Health Department. She said the group must have a permit to serve hot food to the public even though its volunteers are doing it on private property. She said the group is allowed to distribute pre-packaged meals.
But the real icing on the cake is this paragraph:
Mahoney said the city considers the group’s activities different from other outdoor gatherings, such as a tailgate party before Rams football games, because those are more private in nature and aren’t inviting the public. Churches that host fish frys also must have permits.
You can server hot meals if it relates to a football game without city permission but you can’t server hot meals to people who have nothing unless you get permission from the city. Once again we see the American attitude that the oligarchs, in this case the owners and operators of football stadiums, received special treatment while those with nothing get shafted precisely because they have nothing.
If the organizers apply for a permit I’m sure the city will either deny it or charge enough that the churches can’t reasonably afford it. This isn’t just about paying to play, it’s about the way cities deal with the homeless. City governments about interested in providing assistence to the homeless, they’re only interested in making the lives of the homeless so miserable that they move somewhere else and become somebody else’s problem.