Feeding the Homeless in Raleigh is Apparently Illegal

Published On August 26, 2013 | By CopBlock | Articles

Michael Torbert shared the following article via CopBlock.org’s submit page.Police-CopBlock

This morning, we showed up at Moore Square at 9:00 a.m., just like we have done virtually every Saturday and Sunday for the last six years. We provide, without cost or obligation, hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich to anyone who wants one. We keep this promise to our community in cooperation with five different large suburban churches that help us with manpower and funding.

Today officers from Raleigh Police Department prevented us from doing our work, for the first time ever. An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested.

Our partner church brought 100 sausage biscuits and large amounts of coffee. We asked the officers for permission to disperse the biscuits to the over 70 people who had lined up, waiting to eat. They said no. I had to face those who were waiting and tell them that I could not feed them, or I would be arrested.

In the past, we have had a good working relationship with the Raleigh Police Department. We knew that we could not use the park itself, as doing so required a permit, but that it was fine if we wanted to set up on the sidewalk, as long as we did not block the sidewalk and cleaned up after ourselves. We have operated, unmolested, under this assumption for the last six years.

By the way, each permit to use the park costs $800. Yes, eight hundred dollars. That would cost us $1,600 every weekend, and the officer we spoke to said the City likely wouldn’t approve it anyway.

Now, however, we are hearing that we can’t distribute food at the park, period. No representative from the Raleigh Police Department was willing to tell us which ordinance we were breaking, or why, after six years and countless friendly and cooperative encounters with the Department, they are now preventing us from feeding hungry people.

When I asked the officer why, he said that he was not going to debate me. “I am just telling you what is. Now you pass out that food, you will go to jail.”

What We Will Do

Simple: we will feed people. I am, after all (however imperfectly), a follower of Jesus, who said himself that when we ignore hungry people, we ignore him. The only question that remains is where we will do it.

We knew that with the upcoming revitalization of Moore Square, we would have to find alternative arrangements. We have been working to that end, but as the revitalization is currently unfunded, and has no start date, we felt we had some time.

Regardless, we will find a venue in the downtown core to feed people. We are committed to this and to our people, and it will happen. If you have a private building or parking lot in the downtown core you are willing to let us use, please contact me by email at [email protected]

What We Won’t Do

We appreciate all the ways you have written in to suggest that we could subvert the system, but to do that only admits to the City of Raleigh that its argument is legitimate. We maintain we have done nothing wrong.

We feed people and have been doing so, and much more, for six years. On the weekends people have no where else to go other than the park because Wake County and/or the City of Raleigh offers no soup kitchens or other options on the weekends. None. There is no “official” place you can get a meal if you are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. You are left to your wits, and for the last six years, you could get a cup of hot coffee and a hot breakfast sandwich from us – because you could not get one from any tax funded location.

We have not hidden. Our work of bringing biscuits to the park has been mentioned in multiple full-page articles in the local paper over the years. We have had countless routine conversations with the police while doing this alleged illegal activity. We do not hide. And while, according to the City of Raleigh, it might be illegal to feed hungry people, it is most assuredly the right thing to do.

What You Can Do

Several things. While it was Raleigh Police Department that threw us out of the park and threatened to arrest us, we realize they are acting under orders. Ultimately, they serve the interests of the Mayor and the City Council. In the words of the officer in charge today, “You need to take it up with the City Council.”

And if history has taught us anything, it is, as Frederick Douglas said, that “power concedes nothing without demand.”

1. Below are the email addresses and phone numbers of the Mayor and of the City Council members. We encourage you to email them and ask A) why organizations, such as Love Wins Ministries, are being prevented from feeding people in the park, when the City of Raleigh has no means of or plans to feed them and B) encourage them to allow said feeding to continue.

Keeping in mind that we win over no one with anger or rudeness. Anger does not cast out fear – only love can do that.

* Out of town folks, call any and all of the City Council members.

* Raleigh residents, call the City Council member representing your district. You can find your district by entering your address here.

City Council At Large
Mary-Ann Baldwin – Email – 919-996-3050
City Council At Large/Mayor Pro Tem
Russ Stephenson – Email – 919-996-3050
District A
Randall Stagner – Email – 919-996-3050

District B
John Odom – Email – 919-996-3050
District C
Eugene Weeks – Email – 919-996-3050
District D
Thomas Crowder – Email – 919-996-3050
District E
Bonner Gaylord – Email – 919-996-3050
Mayor
Nancy McFarlane – Email – 919-996-3050

2. Post the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or any other social media outlets you have access to. Again, we have done nothing wrong, and have no desire to hide.

3. If you have contacts with people of influence (media, celebrities, etc.), please pass this story along to them or give them my email address – [email protected]

4. Stay up do date. The most current information will be on our Facebook page, which you can like to receive those updates automatically.

5. Pray for our friends who are hungry, and now have nowhere to eat. And pray for us, so that we do not lose our tempers and along with it, our soul. And pray for the officers and people in power, who are working against our goals.

Pray for all of us, in fact, because we all need it, and our liberation is bound up in each other.

As we know more, we will post it here. Thank you for everything.

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  • Jason Free 123

    Serve the fucking food in your church and then you wouldn’t have to worry about a permit. You are no different then anyone else who would do the same thing. I truly believe there is a lot more to this fucking story then what you are saying. First off, churches hand out food to people in their own churches. 2nd, you know you can’t hand out food without a permit. This didn’t just pop up one day. You fuckers more than likely were warned about this before. 3rd. For a “church” to air this type of bullshit on cuntblock shows you are not a real church so the story is pure bullshit just like your church.

  • YankeeFan

    Even if they needed a permit, way to win hearts and minds. Threaten to arrest people for wanting to do a good deed for hungry people!

  • YankeeFan

    That’s if this is true. It is hard to tell on here anymore!

  • steve

    Congratulations to the Mayor of Raleigh for letting this happen.

  • Ariel

    YF,
    Do a simple search “feeding homeless illegal” and you’ll find it pretty common that these restrictions go from parks to churches in a number of cities and towns. The permit fees, while having other purpose, serve as hurdles.

  • YankeeFan

    Ariel,

    I have seen plenty of these stories. This is clearly the right thing to do for fellow people and those trying to do it are being threatened.

  • Chris Mallory

    They should pass out the food on the sidewalk and get arrested. Then dare the state to find a jury that will convict them.

    Better to spend time in jail than to obey laws that offend God.

    All cops lie, all the time.

    Disarm cops for a safer America.

  • Chris Mallory

    Maybe they should stand on the side walk with a bag of food and preach the Gospel. Give anyone who walks up a sandwich. First Amendment protection for the win!

    All cops lie, all the time.

    Disarm cops for a safer America.

  • Chris Mallory

    Slappy dislikes churches because they condemn his love of small boys, burly convicts and livestock.

  • RadicalDude

    It sucks to get threatened, but I agree w/ Mallory. Do it anyway, once they have gotten a couple nullifications and lawsuits, they’ll probably quit w/ this frivolous non-sense.

  • PlainDarkSedan

    Jason Free 123 says:
    August 26, 2013 at 2:49 pm
    Serve the fucking food in your church and then you wouldn’t have to worry about a permit. You are no different then anyone else who would do the same thing. I truly believe there is a lot more to this fucking story then what you are saying. First off, churches hand out food to people in their own churches. 2nd, you know you can’t hand out food without a permit. This didn’t just pop up one day. You fuckers more than likely were warned about this before. 3rd. For a “church” to air this type of bullshit on cuntblock shows you are not a real church so the story is pure bullshit just like your church.

    Serving, and giving away are not the same thing. AND this has cropped up elsewhere-because of crybaby businessmen whining to stop charity. “Permits” are not required for giving things away. And this guy is NOT the churches.

    SCUMBAGS like YOU, who run their mouths at DECENT people. are the “cunts” you so blithely describ.

  • PlainDarkSedan

    I don’t think that the charges would be substantial enough to get a jury trial, that would be one problem. Another is that the judge tells people under what parameters they are allowed to rule, and jury nullification is like finding a dime in a bucket of pennies-doesn’t happen that often.

  • PlainDarkSedan

    @Jason Free 123

    You a cop, or are you just blowing one?

  • PlainDarkSedan

    For people who doubt the veracity of this narrative, it’s happened before, elsewhere. It is becoming commonplace-much like the individual who was doing this, and giving free haircuts.

    They put a stop to that, and want him to get a barbers’ license and food permits. Bunch of shit, if you ask me-but seemingly in line with what the State, and the neighborhood gossips want our country to be, these days.

  • http://semperfiwebdesign.com Michael Torbert

    Jason Free 123,

    You’re correct that they are no different than anyone else who would do the same thing. Nobody else should be harassed by the police for feeding the homeless either (but they are: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/opinion/1000-days-of-feeding-the-hungry-later-and-now-raleigh-wants-to-arrest-us)

    1) Churches often hand out food in their church, the also often don’t. It’s none of the business of the police or city what they do if they aren’t hurting anyone.

    2) They apparently didn’t know they needed a permit. This still isn’t clear. Neither the city nor the police have yet to tell them the ordinance violated. (Even if there is one, it is immoral.)

    3) The church didn’t submit this post, I did. I’m not related to this church. I know nothing about them, other than aparently they like to hand out food to the hungry on weekends in downtown Raleigh, and they don’t know who I am.

    The main local paper, News and Observer, has a couple articles with more (though not much) information.
    http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/25/3135843_police-stop-charities-feeding.html
    http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/26/3137515/raleigh-cops-stop-charities-from.html

  • certain

    Yeah, there’s always more to it, isn’t there, slaps.

    Usually I find you funny, if not terribly bright, but on this particular subject, you’re being a tool just for the sake of being a tool. Ass-wipe.

  • Casual Observer

    Earlier this month, an unanimous vote by the City Council of the City of Columbia, South Carolina, enacted a law that bans homeless people from the downtown business district.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p7gNAODsQM

  • Common Sense

    My god, look at the way that cop aggressively holds his latte.

  • Jason Free 123

    Chris Mallory – Still spouting off after you were caught molesting any and everything with legs. You really are not very good at this are you? This story is complete bullshit. I don’t believe for a minute these people didn’t know you need a permit. These people are as stupid as you are. It must be nice to know you there are many other stupid fucking idiots like you out there. Now you won’t be alone. You will dress up like a fairy and try to get their boys to reach their hands into your tutu looking for that special fairy dust and your backup “wand”. You are one sick bastard.

  • Chris Mallory

    PDS, this is one thing Kentucky has done right. It is written into law that the accused has the right to a jury trial for any offense, including traffic citations. If you plea Not Guilty to a seat belt violation they have to ask if you want a jury or bench trial.

    KRS 29A.270 Right to jury trial.
    (1) Defendants shall have the right to a jury trial in all criminal prosecutions, including prosecutions for violations of traffic laws, in the Circuit and District Courts. The defendant may request a jury trial at any time prior to the time his case is called for trial

  • Chris Mallory

    Slappy,

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    I don’t see any thing in there about needing a permit.

    Now run along and give your probation officer the address of the bridge you are living under. I just hope it is 1000 meters from all livestock and places children gather like your parole requires.

  • Jason Free 123

    Chris you goat raping piece of shit. The law says they have to get a permit to do what they are doing. It’s already been established fuckface. So again, you are wrong. You are also the one on youtube dressed in your fairy suit trying to get little boys to stick their hands into your tutu. Later you go down to the farm and fuck every animal that can’t run faster then you.

  • Ariel

    Common Sense,

    That was a single-handed choke hold on the latte. The latte had submitted by the time of this video but the officer was reluctant to loosen his grip.