Photo of the minister telling the crowd that they will arrest him if he gives them a biscuit
A small non-profit religious charity, Love Wins Ministries, which feeds the poor each weekend on a sidewalk adjacent to a city park, was about to feed them when the Raleigh, North Carolina police showed up to tell them to stop or they would be arrested.
There were people lined up for more than an hour and the minister asked if he could just feed them before leaving and the police said no or they’d be arrested. The poor waiting in line were understandably angry.
The charity has been doing this for the past six years.
The police said they were enforcing a city ordinance which bans the distribution of food in city parks, though the group was on the sidewalk. Similar bans have been implemented in parks in New York and New Jersey.
The charity can’t afford to pay the fine. They were told to apply for a permit which costs $800 a day, $1600 for a weekend. They are a small charity and don’t have the money to pay for that either, even if the permit were approved, which is not likely according to the police.
The City Council committee voted Wednesday to temporarily relax a ban on such distributions. They want the group to find another distribution site but will now work with them after a town hearing in which thousands showed up to voice their opinions.
The businesses in the area – Moore Square – say it has become a hangout for the homeless. “The legacy of Moore Square is it’s become a designated herding place for the indigent and homeless,” said Al Brothers, who owns a building near the square. “My big question is, ‘Why Moore Square?’ ”
Park officials say littering is a serious problem. They also say the crime statistics for Moore Square is five times the crime of its twin across downtown, Nash Square.
The director of one mission says many of those problems come from the large number of bars in the area of Moore Square.
The council hopes to look for another location for the food handouts but the bars are obviously staying put.