Monday, 26 August 2013

Feeding The Homeless Is Illegal?

Feeding The Homeless Is Illegal?

Posted on August 26, 2013 by Brian in Food, Health, News - See more at:

The Business We Have Chosen
Feeding Homeless Apparently Illegal in Raleigh, NC
Posted on August 24, 2013 by Hugh Hollowell
Maggie, Sarah, our church partner, and I speak with an officer.

What Happened

On the morning of Saturday, August, 24, Love Wins showed up at Moore Square at 9:00 a.m., just like we have done virtually every Saturday and Sunday for the last six years. We provide, without cost or obligation, hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich to anyone who wants one. We keep this promise to our community in cooperation with five different, large suburban churches that help us with manpower and funding.

On that morning three officers from Raleigh Police Department prevented us from doing our work, for the first time ever. An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested.
Me addressing the crowd. “They will arrest me if I give you a biscuit.”

Our partnering church brought 100 sausage biscuits and large amounts of coffee. We asked the officers for permission to disperse the biscuits to the over 70 people who had lined up, waiting to eat. They said no. I had to face those who were waiting and tell them that I could not feed them, or I would be arrested.

In the past, we have had a good working relationship with the Raleigh Police Department. We knew that we could not use the park itself, as doing so required a permit, but that it was acceptable to set up on the sidewalk, as long as we did not block the sidewalk and cleaned up after ourselves. We have operated, unmolested, under this assumption for the last six years.

By the way, each permit to use the park costs $800. Yes, eight hundred dollars. That would cost us $1,600 every weekend, and the officer we spoke to said the City likely wouldn’t approve it anyway.

No representative from the Raleigh Police Department was willing to tell us which ordinance we broke, or why, after six years and countless friendly and cooperative encounters with the Department, they are now preventing us from feeding hungry people.

When I asked the officer why, he said that he was not going to debate me. “I am just telling you what is. Now you pass out that food, you will go to jail.”

What We Will Do

Simple: we will feed people. I am, after all (however imperfectly), a follower of Jesus, who said himself that when we ignore hungry people, we ignore him.
We knew that with the upcoming revitalization of Moore Square, we would have to find alternative arrangements. We have been working to that end, but as the revitalization is currently unfunded, and has no start date, we felt we had some time.

What We Won’t Do

We appreciate all the ways you have written in to suggest that we could subvert the system, but to do that only admits to the City of Raleigh that its argument is legitimate. We maintain that we have done nothing wrong.

We feed people and have been doing so, and much more, for six years. On the weekends people have no where else to go other than the park because Wake County and/or the City of Raleigh offers no soup kitchens or other options on the weekends. None. There is no “official” place you can get a meal if you are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. You are left to your wits, and for the last six years, you could get a cup of hot coffee and a hot breakfast sandwich from us – because you could not get one from any tax funded location.

We have not hidden. Our work of bringing biscuits to the park has been mentioned in multiple full-page articles in the local paper over the years. We have had countless routine conversations with the police while doing this alleged illegal activity. We do not hide. And while, according to the City of Raleigh, it might be illegal to feed hungry people, it is most assuredly the right thing to do.

What You Can Do

Several things. While it was Raleigh Police Department that threw us out of the park and threatened to arrest us, we realize they are acting under orders. Ultimately, they serve the interests of the Mayor and the City Council. In the words of the officer in charge today, “You need to take it up with the City Council.”
And if history has taught us anything, it is, as Frederick Douglas said, that “power concedes nothing without demand.”

1. Below are the email addresses and phone numbers of the Mayor and of the City Council members. We encourage you to email them and ask A) why organizations, such as Love Wins Ministries, are being prevented from feeding people in the park, when the City of Raleigh has no means of or plans to feed them and B) encourage them to allow said feeding to continue. continue to call and voice your concern. We spoke with the Mayor yesterday, and while she did say that no one will be arrested for feeding hungry people in the park, it’s important to continue to make your voice heard. The status quo is not acceptable.

Keeping in mind that we win over no one with anger or rudeness. Anger does not cast out fear – only love can do that.

* Out of town folks, call any and all of the City Council members.
* Raleigh residents, call the City Council member representing your district. You can find your district by entering your address here.
City Council At Large
Mary-Ann Baldwin – Email – 919-996-3050
City Council At Large/Mayor Pro Tem
Russ Stephenson – Email – 919-996-3050
District A
Randall Stagner – Email – 919-996-3050
District B
John Odom – Email – 919-996-3050
District C
Eugene Weeks – Email – 919-996-3050
District D
Thomas Crowder – Email – 919-996-3050
District E
Bonner Gaylord – Email – 919-996-3050
Nancy McFarlane – Email – 919-996-3050

2. Post the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or any other social media outlets you have access to. Again, we have done nothing wrong, and have no desire to hide.

3. If you have contacts with people of influence (media, celebrities, etc.), please pass this story along to them or give them my email address –

4. Stay up do date. The most current information will be on our Facebook page, which you can like to receive those updates automatically.

5. Pray for our friends who are hungry, and now have nowhere to eat. And pray for us, so that we do not lose our tempers and along with it, our soul. And pray for the officers and people in power, who are working against our goals.

6. If you’re local, attend the public City Council meeting that will take place soon to address the issue.

Pray for all of us, in fact, because we all need it, and our liberation is bound up in each other 
Inquiring minds want to know why it’s not okay to treat people like people.

In the last 48 hours our blog post about the incident has gone viral—if you count 250,000 views as such. The comments pour in faster than we can moderate them. The pressure created by concerned readers has reached the offices of Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and the City Council.

I spoke with Mayor McFarlane yesterday afternoon. She said that she wasn’t aware of the Raleigh Police Department’s decision to arrest people sharing food. She confirmed that no one would be arrested for sharing food at Moore Square. I also had a conversation with Mayor Pro Tem Russ Stephenson, who assured me that pending further communication, the City would maintain the status quo of allowing us to serve food on the sidewalk immediately outside the park.

These are positive first steps as we forward with the City of Raleigh.

I want to be clear that Love Wins is not satisfied with the status quo. We should not need to pay $800 to feed hungry people in a park that belongs to everyone. A society is judged not by how it treats its most wealthy citizens, but by how it treats its most vulnerable.
Originally posted and full credit given to:
The following are some of the major U.S. cities that have attempted to ban feeding the homeless….
Mayor Nutter recently banned feeding homeless people in many parts of Philadelphia where homeless people are known to congregate….

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has announced a ban on the feeding of large numbers of homeless and hungry people at sites on and near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Mayor Nutter is imposing the ban on all outdoor feedings of large numbers of people on city parkland, including Love Park and the Ben Franklin Parkway, where it is not uncommon for outreach groups to offer free food.

Nutter says the feedings lack both sanitary conditions and dignity.
Last June, a group of activists down in Orlando, Florida were arrested by police for feeding the homeless in defiance of a city ordinance….
Over the past week, twelve members of food activist group Food Not Bombs have been arrested in Orlando for giving free food to groups of homeless people in a downtown park. They were acting in defiance of a controversial city ordinance that mandates permits for groups distributing food to large groups in parks within two miles of City Hall. Each group is allowed only two permits per park per year; Food Not Bombs has already exceeded their limit. They set up their meatless buffet in Lake Eola knowing that they would likely be arrested as a result.
Down in Houston, a group of Christians was recently banned from distributing food to the homeless, and they were told that they probably would not be granted a permit to do so in the future even if they applied for one….
Bobby and Amanda Herring spent more than a year providing food to homeless people in downtown Houston every day. They fed them, left behind no trash and doled out warm meals peacefully without a single crime being committed, Bobby Herring said.

That ended two weeks ago when the city shut down their “Feed a Friend” effort for lack of a permit. And city officials say the couple most likely will not be able to obtain one.

“We don’t really know what they want, we just think that they don’t want us down there feeding people,” said Bobby Herring, a Christian rapper who goes by the stage name Tre9.
Dallas has also adopted a law which greatly restricts the ability of individuals and ministries to feed the homeless….
A Dallas-area ministry is suing the city over a food ordinance that restricts the group from giving meals to the homeless.

Courts dismissed Dallas’ request for a summary judgment last week, saying the case, brought up by pastor Don Hart (in video above) may indeed be a violation of free exercise of religion, as protected by the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the blog Religion Clause reported.

In the court filing, the ministry leaders argue that their Christian faith requires them to share meals with the homeless (Jesus did!) and that the requirement that even churches and charities provide toilets, sinks, trained staff and consent of the city keeps them from doing so.
Las Vegas
A few years ago, Las Vegas became the first major U.S. city to specifically pass a law banning the feeding of homeless people….
Las Vegas, whose homeless population has doubled in the past decade to about 12,000 people in and around the city, joins several other cities across the country that have adopted or considered ordinances limiting the distribution of charitable meals in parks. Most have restricted the time and place of such handouts, hoping to discourage homeless people from congregating and, in the view of officials, ruining efforts to beautify downtowns and neighborhoods.

But the Las Vegas ordinance is believed to be the first to explicitly make it an offense to feed “the indigent.”
That law has since been blocked by a federal judge, and since then many U.S. cities have been very careful not to mention “the indigent” or “the homeless” by name in the laws they pass that are intended to ban feeding the homeless.
New York City
New York City has banned all food donations to government-run homeless shelters because the bureaucrats there are concerned that the donated food will not be “nutritious” enough.
Yes, this is really true.
The following is from a recent Fox News article….
The Bloomberg administration is now taking the term “food police” to new depths, blocking food donations to all government-run facilities that serve the city’s homeless.

In conjunction with a mayoral task force and the Health Department, the Department of Homeless Services recently started enforcing new nutritional rules for food served at city shelters. Since DHS can’t assess the nutritional content of donated food, shelters have to turn away good Samaritans.
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