When they’re not busy arresting people for getting stoned in the privacy of their own homes, or for having consensual sex with a stranger for a price, they’re arresting people for feeding the homeless. Because it’s not like there are worse crimes to crack down upon like rape or murder, right?
Feeding the homeless is usually seen as a charitable act beyond reproach. But three members of national activist group Food Not Bombs found themselves on the other side of the law in Orlando, Fla. Wednesday for doing just that in a public park, an act that violates a city ordinance.Apparently, Food Not Bombs! has had similar incidents with the police numerous times before. It’s even been targeted by the FBI as a possible terrorist organization. Yes, because when I think of terrorists, I think of organizations that feed the homeless and support non-violence!
The three were arrested for, according to spokesperson for the Orlando police, “intentionally violat[ing] the statute,” which bans feeding groups larger than 25 people in the park without a permit. Groups can apply for a permit for each location twice a year.
Douglas Coleman, a spokesman for the group, sees the issue differently: “They basically carted them off to jail for feeding hungry people.”
“For them to regulate a time and place for free speech and to share food, that is unacceptable,” he continued.
This entire controversy began when, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Food Not Bombs began feeding the homeless twice a week in Lake Eola Park in 2005. After residents began to complain, the city passed the ordinance in 2006. The group filed a lawsuit disputing the constitutionality of the law.
When the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled the ordinance did not violate the group’s constitutional rights last June, Orlando city attorney Mayanne Downs explained that the law was passed “to protect all the downtown parks from abusive use or overly exclusive use by one party or community.” The group appealed again, but lost in April.
Keith McHenry, co-founder of the group and one of those arrested, told the Orlando Sentinel they planned to keep feeding the homeless without permits.
Personally, I find the endeavors of this organization admirable. The poor and needy are best served when people get off their asses and actually do something to help them, rather than remain planted on their asses handing their tax dollars over to Uncle Sam to fund another government program that does little to nothing.
I also like the organization’s anti-state, anti-war stance. Heck, if they weren’t tree-hugging, tofu-eating socialists, I’d happily join!
And believe it or not, this isn’t the only organization to be penalized for feeding people without a permit! Many churches have been given cease-and-desist orders to stop serving home-cooked meals for the homeless.
This is one of the main reasons why I oppose regulation and support a free market. Sure, some regulation is necessary, but most of it tends to do more harm than good. When a permit is the only thing preventing you from feeding those who would otherwise go without a warm meal, you know bureaucracy has gone nuts!