Arrested for Feeding the Homeless

adj \əb-ˈsərd, -ˈzərd\
1: ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous
2: having no rational or orderly relationship to human life

—from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

12 members of the all-volunteer, anti-hunger group Food Not Bombs have been arrested for feeding the homeless in an Orlando, Florida park.
That’s right; it’s illegal to feed the poor and hungry.

Food Not Bombs, after obtaining the appropriate permits, began distributing free food every Wednesday in Orlando’s Lake Eola Park in 2005. More recently, the City Council passed an ordinance limiting any group that holds a food sharing-event that attracts 25 or more people to two events per downtown park per 12-month period. The Food Not Bombs members, who were handcuffed and loaded into a police van, will each face 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Several U.S. cities, including Las Vegas, Nevada, Santa Monica, California, and Wilmington, North Carolina have adopted ordinances limiting the distribution of free food in public, with many more considering similar legislation. Most have restricted the time and place of food handouts, hoping to discourage homeless people from congregating and, in the view of officials, ruining efforts to beautify parks and gentrify neighborhoods.

The criminalization of homelesness.
The ordinances are aimed at the broader blight of public homelessness. The cities have already tried to shield their citizens with selective enforcement of anti-camping policies and public intoxication laws. Failing that, they are switching tactics and criminalizing the activities of good Samaritans, religious groups, and other humanitarian efforts.

According to the United States Conference of Mayors, in 2010, requests for emergency food assistance increased by an average of 24% in cities across the country. At the same time, resources are dwindling as financially strapped state and local governments cut their funding to aid agencies. It’s estimated that about one-third of the need is not met, and the the shortfall between demand and resources keeps growing.

The right to food is a well-recognized, basic human right. It’s protected by over 100 instruments of international law, and guaranteed by the domestic constitutions of many of the world’s nations.
But not ours.

Free the Orlando 12!
Food Not Bombs is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to nonviolent social change. It shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities around the world. And the group’s name? It answers the question:  With over a billion people going hungry each day how can we spend another dollar on war?

You can download the full Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness from the United States Conference of Mayors.



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3 Responses to Arrested for Feeding the Homeless

  1. vesey says:

    If the goal of this organization is to feed the hungry, it should work with the city and local area building owners to find appropriate facilities to house the various meal times and publish those locations and times. If it is to make a social and political statement which is obvious (Food Not Bombs….right !!) then they should do just what they did, grandstand in public parks paid for by the taxpayer making it unavailable for the taxpayer, causing a cause celebre and get arrested so all of the foolish liberals can cry about the horrible cruelty of the city gov’t. Grow up children !! Do you want to feed the hungry or play “look at me i’m a good socialist ????

  2. Janice says:

    It boggles the mind.

    There are cities that have come up with better solution, like Cleveland, Ohio, which has contracted with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless to coordinate outreach agencies and food sharing groups to prevent duplication of food provision, to create a more orderly food sharing system, and to provide an indoor food sharing site to groups. Of course ideally, we would be addressing the underlying causes of hunger and homelessness.

  3. Cherrey says:

    I’m speechless. Being arrested for such reason is both harsh and heroic.

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