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The Spirit Vs. The Letter of the Law

June 3, 2011

This is wrong on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin:

Three arrested for ‘illegally’ feeding homeless

From the Orlando Sentinel

Members of Orlando Food Not Bombs were arrested Wednesday when police said they violated a city ordinance by feeding the homeless in Lake Eola Park.

Jessica Cross, 24, Benjamin Markeson, 49, and Jonathan “Keith” McHenry, 54, were arrested at 6:10 p.m. on a charge of violating the ordinance restricting group feedings in public parks. McHenry is a co-founder of the international Food Not Bombs movement, which began in the early 1980s.

The group lost a court battle in April, clearing the way for the city to enforce the ordinance. It requires groups to obtain a permit and limits each group to two permits per year for each park within a 2-mile radius of City Hall.

Arrest papers state that Cross, Markeson and McHenry helped feed 40 people Wednesday night. The ordinance applies to feedings of more than 25 people.

“They intentionally violated the statute,” said Lt. Barbara Jones, an Orlando police spokeswoman.

“They basically carted them off to jail for feeding hungry people,” said Coleman, who was not present. “For them to regulate a time and place for free speech and to share food, that is unacceptable.”

If that wasn’t stupid enough

Police had not enforced the ordinance while the court battle continued. The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta ruled that city rules regulating how often large groups of people can be fed in a park do not violate the Constitution.

Really? Really, really? Everything happening within the economy and state and federal budgets, but let’s waste lots of money and time fighting in court about how an organization is supposed to feed homeless people… really?

Well, at least the cops weren’t complete [insert desired description HERE]

Police waited until everyone was served to make the arrests

Even so… I think they have missed the point…

One Comment leave one →
  1. nazani14 permalink
    June 8, 2011 6:46 am

    The law makes it sound like the homeless people are vermin, sort of like “Do not feed the pigeons.”

    And whose fault is it that there are 40 homeless people in a park in the evening, if not the city’s?

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