By Brandon Turbeville
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is widely known as a growing city due to its popular beaches and an economy geared toward the attraction of tourists, golfers, and vacationers. Any such community, of course, is naturally going to compete with other geographically similar locations. Thus, not to be outdone by other beach communities such as Orlando, Florida, Myrtle Beach has now followed suit in banning good Samaritans from engaging in such charitable acts as feeding the homeless.
In yet one more example of just how far the Nanny police state complex and the nightmare of overwhelming bureaucracy have become, not only has Myrtle Beach outlawed the use of public parks to feed those in need, frothing bureaucrats have also been instrumental in preventing these people from feeding the homeless on their own private property or even in churches.
Such is the revelation, previously unknown to many area residents, with the court case of Richard Hopkins, an area Quaker who feels that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, he is required to assist those less fortunate than he. While this may seem to many to be a noble gesture and an act of true charity to many, the city of Myrtle Beach, with its legion of bureaucrats and uniformed goons, sees Hopkins’ acts as a crime.
Indeed, Hopkins does not deny the acts which he is accused of committing – feeding homeless people in Chapin Park on March 9 – and for that he was found guilty of a misdemeanor crime and given a $1,092 fine.
This issue initially arose around the fact that Myrtle Beach bureaucrats and city officials demand that a permit be issued for use of a public park by the very public that paid for the park to begin with. Hopkins, of course, was not using the park for commercial gain – but that did not stop Myrtle Beach Law Enforcement from faithfully surrendering their brains and basic humanity to the city code guidelines and forcing Hopkins to cease feeding the hungry and even issuing him a citation for doing so.
With such a clear case of outrageous rule-following on the part of the city of Myrtle Beach, one might at first suspect that the City would like to keep the issue under wraps if for no other reason than the potentially negative public relations that might result from it. Instead, the City actually continued to prosecute Hopkins – even going so far as bringing in an outside attorney, Mike Battle, at the cost of $215 per hour to ensure the Quaker’s conviction.
Hopkins was represented by Susan Dunn, the legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Carolina who has stated that the requirement of a permit opens several Constitutional questions in and of itself.
However, the Nanny state rules and regulations do not stop there. In order to simply prepare food and provide it to those who would otherwise have nothing, Hopkins would be required to submit to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) for inspection, approval, and permission as well as take out a $1 million liability insurance policy.
Once Hopkins was made aware of his heinous crimes by the brave police officer William Heine who so selflessly stormed the scene after witnessing the horror of homeless locals receiving food, Hopkins received an invitation by an interim pastor at the First Methodist Church to use the church’s facilities for feeding the homeless.
But the city of Myrtle Beach is not to be challenged and, Hopkins claims, shortly after the food drives began, “We were told by the pastor that the city manager called him and told him not to allow us to use the church anymore.” Although it should be noted that the City Manager Tom Leath denies having ever made such a call, considering the track of the City thus far, and considering the fact that neither Hopkins or the church have a legitimate reason to lie about such a call, it is highly likely that City Manager is the party to falsehood in this particular story.
For that reason, Hopkins then relocated his charity initiative to private property which he claims he was told was an acceptable method of doling out the food. However, yet again, Hopkins was chased down by the always honorable city police and zoning officials and was subsequently told that his charitable efforts were violating city zoning laws.
Although City Judge Glenn Ohanesian found Hopkins guilty of operating without a permit, his fine was at least suspended. However, the fact that Ohanesian found Hopkins guilty should not be lost nor should the fact that Hopkins never should have been in court to begin with. Nor should he ever have had to contend with Myrtle Beach’s bureaucrat and law enforcement communities.
In the end, Susan Dunn has stated that the case will likely be appealed to the circuit court. One can only hope that the judges who hear the case will have more rational minds than judge Ohanesian and that the residents of Myrtle Beach will wake up to the fact that their city has become yet another roost for petty control freaks and overzealous law enforcement.
 “Orlando Activists Arrested For Feed Homeless In Defiance Of City Ordinance.” Huffington Post. August 10, 2011.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/10/…. Accessed on July 29, 2013.
 O’dare, Tom. “Myrtle Beach judge rules citizens can’t feed homeless in public park, appeal likely.” My Horry News.com. July 26, 2013.http://m.myhorrynews.com/news/local/…. Accessed on July 29, 2013.
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