Thelma vs. the Park Police

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 14, 1997 | Go to article overview

Thelma vs. the Park Police


You've gotta appreciate what Thelma Billy of Fairfax County is doing. She's got a generous heart and a busy kitchen, where she stirs up hundreds of meals each week to dish out free to the homeless. Hers is the sort of good deed that warms the heart. That's why it was so disturbing to read in The Metropolitan Times that overzealous U.S. Park Police are trying to kick her out of town. They say she needs a health permit. Phooey.

Mrs. Billy is not hawking wares. Unlike the vendors along the busy Mall area around Constitution Ave., whom the Park Police ran off. That's different. They have the legislative right to police federal parkland. But they have crossed the line if they think they can do the same to Mrs. Billy, who, with the help of a tiny band of neighbors and friends, helps feed the needy.

"Every Wednesday she has drawn up to 300 to 500 people, who line up to get meals on the sidewalk outside the Community for Creative Non-Violence at Second and D streets NW," write Metro reporters Gary Sheets and Jim Keary. "On Fridays she feeds another 100 at Dupont Circle and 30 to 40 more at Lafayette Park, across from the White House. …

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