Feed the Homeless, Become a Criminal

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By Caleb Coggeshall

Feeding the homeless is a noble action, as long as one has permission from the state. Simple kindness for fellow man has become punishable in the last few years, as people have gone to prison and faced fines for feeding the homeless. Unfortunately, these incidents are not isolated, as there have been several cases of people being forcibly removed from public property for handing out food. It might sound like a joke, or an exaggeration, but it has happened more than people realize. Below are a few examples.

Arnold Abbott, a supporter of the homeless, has been cited at least three times for feeding people in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After having been arrested in 1999 for this action, he filed a lawsuit against the city and won. Abbott asked that the city honor that ruling when he was cited again in 2014. Two Christian pastors also faced the law alongside him: Dwayne Black and Mark Sims. All three men were required to pay a fine of $500 and face sixty days in jail. Apparently, these men broke a city ordinance which prohibits the sharing of food publicly. The ordinance goes on to say that “organizations distributing food outdoors would have to provide portable toilets for use by workers and those being fed.

A similar happening occurred in Kansas City, Missouri. A group of volunteers known as Kookers Kare gathered thousands of pounds of food to distribute to 3,000 homeless individuals. Bureaucrats from the Kansas City Health Department decided that wasn’t going to happen and told Kookers Kare that since the food hadn’t been previously inspected, it was unfit for consumption. As if that weren’t bad enough, the health department said that the comestibles also had to be destroyed. After spending time and energy preparing all that food, the workers had to saturate it all with bleach so it couldn’t be eaten.

Lastly, it looks as if Florida may have a special aversion to the homeless, because only a few weeks ago, members from the group Food Not Bombs were led away in handcuffs. There is a law in Tampa that one needs a special permit to destitute in public parks, and a fact Food Not Bombs was certainly aware of. However, obtaining a permit to feed people in a public park in Tampa is expensive, which gives reason to why the organization decided to forego the legal paperwork. Instead deciding to go ahead with their plans. A plan which, as a consequence, landed seven members with new silver bracelets.


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