Regarding my column today about Pastor Violet Little's monthly church service and coffee hour for the homeless and others on the Ben Franklin Parkway, below is the full statement from City Hall spokesman Mark McDonald regarding the ban on Parkway feeding. The judge referenced by McDonald is Hon. William Yohn Jr., who's overseeing the federal lawsuit filed June 4 on behalf of Little and other religious leaders who say the ban is a violation of their First Amendment rights to to free speech and freedom of religious expression.
"Upon the judge's suggestion, the City agreed to maintain the status quo and simply continue what we've been doing. We are encouraging groups to use the City Hall apron for food distribution and many groups are availing themselves of the space and having access to water, trash pick up, porto-potties, security and homeless outreach staff. We are encouraging groups to secure health permits and how to get them and to use the apron and not to use park property. We continue to educate food distribution groups about our long-term goal of expanding indoor dining. We were not and are not issuing fines."