Home | About | Donate

Peace Activists Arrested for Feeding Homeless in Public Park


Peace Activists Arrested for Feeding Homeless in Public Park

Nika Knight, staff writer

Seven activists with the peace group Food Not Bombs were arrested for feeding homeless people on Saturday in a public park in Tampa, Florida.


I wonder what would happen if a contingent of nuns showed up -- accompanied by a video crew -- and handed out the food next week?


I really like that idea.

These people are doing the right and moral thing. Spiritually, it is what any saint or decent good person would do. Let those arresting them reap the bad karma.


Its legal to burn books, but not legal to feed the homeless? There's only one thing to say to that: F@*kin' Florida.


Sad to say, it's not just Florida. A week or two ago there was video of cops in Colorado (where it's freakin' cold right now!) taking away blankets and warm gear from homeless people. Better to see 'em starve and freeze to death, it seems. And the US likes to call itself a "Christian nation".


The government differs, saying: "Bombs, not food!"

Not sure what the law is in Tennessee, but I suppose I may be a frequent lawbreaker myself. If giving food to the homeless is criminal activity, then I'm proud to be a criminal.


"Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison." - Henry David Thoreau


"In the magnificent cathedral, the Honorable and Right Reverend, the elect favorite of the fashionable world, appears before an elect company and preaches with emotion upon the text he himself choose: 'God hath chosen the base things of the world, and the things that are despised.' And nobody laughs." - Soren Kierkegaard


The police warned the activists last week that they would be enforcing the ordinance, but Food Not Bombs proceeded to offer free food to the homeless anyway.

We faced the same situation in Atlanta 20 years ago, except the first time the cops showed up it wasn't to warn us, it was to arrest us. The Georgia lawyer for the ACLU, who lived in the neighborhood, either happened by or was called, and said quite loudly, "Go ahead, get arrested, I'll have you bailed out in a couple of hours and we'll have a great time defeating the City of Atlanta in court on this one."

The commanding officer at the scene got on his radio back to headquarters and after a few moments anounced, "Go ahead and finish feeding today, but anyone who comes back next week will be arrested."

That's when we contacted the local media. One local journalist called the Major for our zone and published the interview - "You're not serious about locking up people for sharing food in a public place?" Two local radio stations took up the campaign, inviting anyone and everyone to come to the park the next Sunday for a pot luck picnic.

When the day arrived there were, believe it or not, snipers on the rooftops of the adjacent buidings, but so many people showed up arrests were out of the question.

Food Not Bombs continued to feed in that location for at least ten more years. I'd moved away by then but kept up with their activities that long.

I should add that we'd laid the groundwork for that kind of action a few years earlier by forming a community association with the express purpose of confronting our community's problems with the police, so when they showed up to arrest us we were on a first name basis with most of the officers involved. A very wise ex-councilman had advised me when we formed the community association, telling me the best way to level the playing field was to invite the police to our meetings. And he was right. The police take their orders from the City Council, filled with real estate "redevelopers" whose sole interest is gentrification for profit. By inviting the police to our meetings to listen to our side of the equation we appealed to the humanity of the individual officers, and it worked.


Your post reminded me of a time when Ralph Waldo Emerson visited Thoreau in jail for his civil disobedience and Ralph asked David: " Henry, what are you doing in there?" And Henry replied: " No Ralph, the question is: " what are you doing out there"!


What did they feed on, a fish and a loaf of bread?


All I can say is to shout; SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!


Yea, i saw that. The Mayor stopped it, but only with words. So the cops kept doing it :frowning:


Exactly right!


Dorothy Day was right as she worked to house and feed the homeless: America is as cold as its pavements.


I was in Christchurch, New Zealand a couple of weeks ago and noticed a small line up of people in a public park. I decided to watch to see what the purpose was and it turned out to be feeding the homeless and hungry. I must admit that in Christchurch you can count the homeless practically on one hand (actually two hands) but just the same, they were hungry and they were fed, without fuss and bother. No police anywhere!


<3 New Zealand -- especially Chch -- lived there in 2007 and visited on a couple other occasions. Haven't seen it since the terrible series of earthquakes though. I fell in love with many of the kiwi attitudes which was manifested in so many beautiful ways. This is one of those manifestations.

Was the line you saw at Hagley Park? I used to wander there many times, including the big sequoia near the main entrance (not to far from the YMCA there).


Did you know that the UN's UDHR lists food and shelter as fundamental human rights, even for the jobless poor? While the US did ratify the UDHR, we stand in violation of that human rights agreement. The US ended actual welfare aid in the 1990s.

Not everyone is able to work, and there aren't jobs for all. The US shut down/shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, and never looked back at the consequences.


Well, orgainized religion has been responsible for wars across the world for thousands of years.


Snipers????? Oh man- this is insane.