The old cliche that "no good deed goes unpunished" appears to be alive and well in Phoenix, Ariz., where a woman got into hot water last month because she was handing out free bottles of cold water.
Dana Crow-Smith, the beverage distributor in question, was ordered to stop handing out free bottled water in the 112-degree summer heat at a festival there because she lacked the proper permit.
She was also discussing her Christian beliefs with passersby as she handed out free water at the 'First Friday' festival, telling ABC15 she only engaged in religious outreach if pedestrians were interested.
“But I don't think it's even about religious beliefs," Crow-Smith told the station. "I think anybody should be able to give away water on the sidewalk to anybody. It's hot and it's a nice thing to do.”
The city worker who ordered her to stop did so because she lacked a vendor's permit, which is required for selling "anything of value" on a Phoenix sidewalk. The fact that she was giving away the water, not selling it, wasn't lost on The Rutherford Institute, a non-profit civil liberties defense group, that promptly took up her case.
Lawyers from the group argue in a letter that Crow-Smith hasn't violated any part of the city code, and that the city's actions were "completely unjustified."
As such, they continue, the city owes Crow-Smith a written apology, an assurance the city will not "interfere in the future with her distribution of water," and require law enforcement officials to undergo further code enforcement training.
If the Phoenix city government fails to do so, notes the Daily Mail, it may lead to a lawsuit.