The Pitzer College Chapter of the Roosevelt Institute is teaming up with Food Not Bombs to implement policy that allows individuals to give food and resources to the homeless. As of now in Claremont California, Upland California, and Rancho Cucamonga California, individuals who try to give food to the homeless are harassed by police forces. We are currently in the process of planning and implementing changes to the aforementioned city’s laws to allow food to be given out to the homeless. Through a long line of precedent (including Citizen’s United) money has been equated with free speech. Food is bought with money, and therefore is also free speech. Individuals giving out food are therefore exercising their first amendment rights. We plan to work with city officials to implement this change to the law, and to work with police in the cities in question to stop the harassment of individuals who are exercising their first amendment rights.
There are two ways to measure our success. The first indication of success we will have is when we are able to implement changes to laws in cities around California. The second way to look at our impact is through the level of harassment that individuals receive when giving out food. While laws on paper should stop police harassment they may not. When the police actually stop harassing individuals who are exercising their first amendment rights, we will know that we have won a major victory.