Homelessness is an epidemic in this country, especially among veterans. Why then would a group of volunteers who were feeding the homeless be arrested for doing exactly that? That’s what many are asking of the Tampa Police. A video is going viral showing the Tampa cops arresting volunteers in a local park. Their crime, they say, has to do with permits.
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We now live in a society that requires permits for feeding the hungry. Keep in mind that some acts of charity are spontaneous, or arrive due to a sudden need. A shift in the weather might necessitate more immediate action. Yet acting may violate laws.
Vocativ is reporting that “six men and one woman with Tampa’s activist group Food Not Bombs were cuffed and hauled out of Tampa’s Lykes Gaslight Square Park on Saturday as they distributed hot coffee and bagels to the city’s hungry.”
Volunteers from Food Not Bombs aren’t deterred. They’re not going to allow the government over-reach to get in the way of their assistance.
“We intend to expose the city’s cruelty in the face of thousands in our community who are struggling with issues of food insecurity, mental and medical health issues, poverty, and homelessness,” a spokesperson for the group wrote. “If the city will not address these problems, the least they can do is not get in the way and stop others from addressing these needs. Compassion should never be criminalized.”
The police in Tampa are not going to be deterred, either. “We warned them: You set up table, chairs and everything, that’s against ordinance,” police spokesman Hegarty said. “We told them exactly what would happen. And that’s exactly what happened.”
The arrest has drawn much unwanted attention to the Tampa Police. Tampa has an estimated population of 348,934. The FBI’s crime statistics estimate that there are 631 incidents of violent crime for every 100,000 residents. That’s more than 2,000 separate instances of violent crime annually for the mid-sized Florida city.
Perhaps arresting non-violent activists who are stemming the tide of hunger among the city’s poorest residents isn’t really the priority the Tamps Police should be focused on.