SHOOTING FOR THE MOONIES

After having been run out of downtown Dallas, some flower-bearing members of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s U-nification Church are working the city’s neighborhoods, soliciting contributions. The “Moonies,” as they are popularly known, are soliciting funds without a city permit but catching them and making charges stick is proving difficult.

Any organization attempting to raise more than $2,000 a year in Dallas must secure a city solicitation permit. The Moonies have refused to submit a detailed financial report stating how their money is being spent, so they don’t have a city permit. (By contrast, the Hare Krishnasdo.) For a while the city consumer affairs department was merely writing citations when the Moonies were caught soliciting illegally. But because the Moonies seldom appeared for trial, the department began arresting them and forcing the solicitors to post a $100 cash bond.

In checking to see whether a solicitor is legitimate, a Dallas resident should ask him for identification proving that the solicitor really does represent a bona fide charitable organization. Then the resident should telephone the consumer affairs department (748-9711) to determine whether the group has a Dallas permit. If not, the department usually will send out an officer to arrest the solicitor.

The catch is that consumer affairs investigators work only on weekdays. On nights and weekends, a Dallas resident must convince the police that there really is such an ordinance prohibiting soliciting without a permit, which isn’t easy. Cite the Dallas City Code, Ordinance 14755.

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