Fundraiser For Vets Moved - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Fundraiser For Vets Moved

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Spokane Valley Police shut down a fundraiser for vets because they say it breaks the city's new anti-panhandling code.  The fundraiser is a yearly tradition called "Pass the Boot," put on by the Combat Vet Riders in Spokane, to support local vets.

"It's vets serving vets, doing good, " said Big Cat Daddy, representative for the vets. "We're not causing a problem, and we're not trying to start trouble."

But Spokane Valley's new ordinance meant this "Pass the Boot Campaign" -- got the boot.

"The ordinance is designed for safety," said Lt. Bill Rose with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. "It's designed to keep people out of the streets and from putting themselves at risk."

The panhandling ordinance bans all soliciting or extending of any object-- or boot into the street for money and police say the group was in direct violation of this law.

"They said the minute we break from the sidewalk to the street, it's a citable offense." said Big Cat Daddy.

The ordinance forced the group to revise their fundraiser, make new signs, and direct traffic into a private parking lot, where police say they were allowed to take donations. The problem then became getting drivers to slow down and read them.

"Drivers only have that moment to look and see what you are doing," said Combat Vet Rider Scot Frazer. "That time is very precious, and the fact that we now have to divert traffic through this parking lot might mean the difference in a donation."

Police say, they feel bad, but it's a matter of public safety and if they bend law for one group, they have to bend the law for them all.

"The ordinance is equally enforced against everyone, regardless of who they represent." said Rose.

Last year, the group raised over $7,000 in one day in Spokane Valley, no word yet on how the vets did this year and if the ordinance affected that number in any way.

Police say the group could have asked for what they call a variance from the city council that could have granted them special permission for the fundraiser. the group says by the time they learned of this, it was too late, but plan to do that next year.

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