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Feeding the homeless should not be illegal in St. Louis

This petition had 1,584 supporters

A person can now be ticketed for attempting to feed the homeless in the City of St. Louis.  This petition is on behalf of the homeless and low-income people living in downtown St. Louis who struggle everyday for survival and joy.

Recently, some residents of a downtown apartment building sent complaints to Jack Coatar, Alderman of the 7th Ward, pertaining to what they view as undesirable conditions of two small parks next door.  The parks and apartment building are in an area historically occupied by low-income and homeless people.  Because of this, a few non-profit organizations donate their time each week giving food, clothing, water, and other essentials to people in need.

This petition is in protest to Jack Coatar’s response to the complaints. 

Instead of demonstrating sensitivity to the tragic circumstances of homelessness, poverty, and hunger that have historically been a part of our segregated City, Mr. Coatar emailed the apartment residents and said the City needs to “clean up these parks” and end “nuisance activity,” which includes “panhandling.”  He claimed the individuals and organizations that “give away items such as backpacks, blankets, toiletries, etc. on City streets, sidewalks and parks…are contributing to some of the problems we’re experiencing...”

Per his request, Chief Dotson has ordered uniformed officers to patrol the parks for 16 hours per day, until the “situation is resolved.”  Mr. Coatar desires for the officers to increasingly enforce various local ordinances in order to stop the “nuisance activity.” 

He also introduced Board Bill 66 a few weeks ago at the Board of Aldermen.  The bill amends the City’s vending ordinance and requires any individual or organization wishing to give anything away to anyone on City streets, sidewalks, and parks to obtain a vending permit.  Setting aside the absurdity of banning all St. Louis citizens from giving “any goods, wares, merchandise, flowers, horticultural products, services, food or beverages” to anyone on a City street, sidewalk, or park, this bill is insulting to the impoverished people of downtown St. Louis and the organizations that serve them.

The undersigned of this petition believe it is wrong to treat the downtown homeless and low-income populations like “undesirables.”  It is wrong to block individuals and organizations, especially non-profits, from providing people in need with food, water, and clothing.  It is wrong to treat the lives of the apartment building residents like they are more valuable than the lives of the City’s poor. 

We ask that Jack Coatar not move forward with Board Bill 66, that the 16-hours-a-day police surveillance be discontinued, and that Mr. Coatar instead focus his efforts on improving the lives of the most vulnerable residents of Ward 7.

Jack Coatar's contact information:  314-622-3287,

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