An Arizona grandmother who was arrested for feeding homeless people has filed a lawsuit against Bullhead City.
Norma Thornton, 78, was arrested in March for feeding homeless people in public, violating Arizona law.
The grandmother said that she was so shocked about being arrested that she thought it was a joke.
“Still, I thought it was a kind of joke, someone playing a prank– until I was put in the back of the police car,” Thornton told Fox 5 Vegas. “I have always believed that when you have plenty, you should share.”
Now, Suranjan San with the Institute for Justice has filed a lawsuit on Thornton’s behalf.
“This case is about kindness. Bullhead City has criminalized kindness,” said Thornton’s attorney, according to the report. “The city council passed an ordinance that makes it a crime punishable by four months imprisonment to share food in public parks for charitable purposes.”
Thornton previously owned a restaurant and wanted to feed those in need now that she is retired.
“For four years, Norma regularly spent her afternoons preparing hot, nutritious, delicious meals from scratch in her home kitchen and gave them out in the park to anyone who asked,” San said.
In 2021, the state passed a law against feeding people for charitable purposes.
“At a city council meeting, the city attorney made it crystal clear. You may host a pizza party in the park for 50 people or a hundred people. Invite friends, invite strangers. You may do it all day every day, so long as your motivation is something other than to help people in need,” San said.
Fox 5 reports that “Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady said the law only applies to public parks, meaning that churches, clubs and private properties are free to serve food to the homeless without a permit.”