An Arizona woman is demanding the City of Phoenix apologize to her and her colleagues after officials told them they couldn’t hand out free bottled water, ABC15.com reports.
“Dana Crow-Smith said a City of Phoenix worker came up to her during the First Friday festival in downtown Phoenix last month and told her she was violating city code by handing out free water because she did not have a permit,” the report adds.
“Crow-Smith and a group of others were there exercising their Christian beliefs by engaging people to talk about religion if they wanted,” ABC15.com adds.
Crow-Smith and her colleagues brought the bottled water to give away to people roasting in the 112-degree heat [see?], but said a “Neighborhood Preservation Inspector” told them that they had to stop what they were doing or risk a citation.
“It was really hot and yeah we wanted to show God’s love and a small act of kindness is a great way to do that without shoving it down someone’s throat,” said Crow-Smith.
Watch the ABC 15.com news update:
Since the “No Water Or Else” incident occurred last month, the non-profit civil liberties organization The Rutherford Institute has offered to represent Crow-Smith and help her fight against what they call “a violation of [her] First Amendment right to freely exercise her religion, her Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, as well as Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act.”
“It is a sad day when local government officials prohibit Americans from such charitable acts as giving water to the thirsty in their city,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.
Whitehead has demanded that the City issue “a formal, written apology to Crow-Smith, assure her no City officials will interfere in future with her distribution of water, and require City workers go through training on the proper enforcement of the City’s code,” ABC15.com reports.
If they don’t comply with the request, a lawsuit could follow.
Crow-Smith said she would rather avoid a lawsuit and just wants to give bottled water to thirsty Arizonans.
“But I don’t think it’s even about religious beliefs. I think anybody should be able to giveaway water on the sidewalk to anybody. It’s hot and it’s a nice thing to do,” said Crow-Smith.
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Front page photo story courtesy the AP.