Las Vegas cops book 7 & arrest 3 for feeding homeless

Gerrard Winstanley office at
Tue Aug 1 16:24:05 BST 2006

July 31, 2006 

Las Vegas marshals ticket 7, arrest 3 amid homeless protests 

LAS VEGAS (AP) - City marshals blocked a radio personality from 
feeding homeless people at a City Hall park Monday, and issued 
summonses to a television news crew covering a publicity protest 
against a ban on "mobile soup kitchens." 

Three people were arrested and seven were issued summonses at two 
parks, city officials said, including a reporter and a cameraman 
ticketed for trespassing while covering the protest for KLAS-TV, the 
CBS affiliate in Las Vegas. 

Beth Monk, a KKLZ-FM radio morning show personality, became the first 
person to receive a summons under a new city law that makes feeding 
the homeless a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000 and six 
months in jail. 

"The idea was to go out there and show the mayor this ordinance makes 
no sense whatsoever," said Monk, 24, a traffic reporter and radio 
comedy team sidekick who has engaged in publicity stunts including mud 
wrestling on the job. 

Monk said city marshals confiscated food and water she set on a cement 
wall at Frank Wright Park - a patch of green wedged between a downtown 
bus terminal, a historic post office building and Las Vegas City Hall. 
She was threatened with arrest if she did not leave. 

"I think right now everyone's realizing how outrageous this is," Monk 
said in a telephone interview. 

Two people also were arrested Monday for trespassing before 7 a.m. at 
Huntridge Circle Park, city spokesman Jace Radke said. Huntridge is an 
urban park several blocks east of downtown where city officials first 
acted against so-called soup kitchen meals for homeless people. 

"The ordinance makes it illegal to run mobile soup kitchens or feed 
the homeless in city parks," Radke said. "Marshals are going to 
enforce the law." 

Bob Stoldal, vice president of news for KLAS, said he had not decided 
whether to fight trespassing summonses issued to reporter Kyla Grogan 
and photojournalist Jorge Montez. 

"We're going to continue to cover the story very aggressively at all 
public parks," Stoldal said. 

The staged protest came less than two weeks after the Las Vegas City 
Council passed a law criminalizing charity in parks, and a month after 
the city began rounding up homeless people for 72-hour mental health 

Officials, led by Mayor Oscar Goodman, say they want a long-term 
solution to homelessness rather than stopgap measures in a city with 
limited resources for those living on the streets. 

"Rather than giving someone a sandwich once a day, the city supports 
efforts to end the cycle of homelessness and address the issues that 
keep these individuals on the streets," the mayor's office said in a 
statement Monday. It calls for the homeless to seek aid at social 
service agencies. 

Activists and civil libertarians called the crackdown unfair and 

"They are treating people in public spaces in a way that is 
inconsistent with the First Amendment and our nation's history," said 
Lee Rowland, American Civil Liberties of Nevada public advocate in Las 
Vegas. She promised a lawsuit challenging the city law. 

Linda Lera-Randel El, longtime executive director of Straight from the 
Streets, a Las Vegas area homeless advocacy group, said she 
distributed water, sandwiches and bus tokens at the City Hall park 
Monday, but was not issued a summons. 

"I'm not saying feeding people in the park is the answer," she said. 
"But I don't think people in power can just pass an ordinance every 
time they don't like something or they're frustrated by the inability 
to fix it."

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