Food Freedom

Watch Tampa Police Arrest Activists for Feeding the Homeless Without a Permit

Outlaw quinoa runs rampant in Tampa.

|

Tampa police officers arrested seven Food Not Bombs members on Saturday for the vile crime of providing hot meals to the homeless without a permit.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa police had earlier warned the local chapter of Food Not Bombs that they needed a facility use permit to set up in a public park. The local activists say the paperwork for such a permit is ridiculous and requires liability insurance coverage of $1 million. Just to feed the homeless. They refused to comply, and while they were serving up some tasty quinoa and mushrooms, police began arresting them.

Watch video of the arrests:

"We warned them: You set up table, chairs and everything, that's against ordinance," a police spokesman told the Tampa Bay Times. "We told them exactly what would happen. And that's exactly what happened."

The seven activists were ticketed and released. In a statement to local media, the Food Not Bombs chapter said they have no intention of shutting down.

"[Food Not Bombs] has no plans to stop sharing food with the homeless and hungry and will continue to defy unjust laws that criminalize compassion and mutual aid," the group said. "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."

The local outlet SaintPetersBlog reports the city has a history of shutting down rogue Samaritans:

This isn't the first time that the police have cracked down on public feedings of the homeless in the Bob Buckhorn administration. Months into his first term in 2011, police stopped a group who had been feeding the homeless for six years. Buckhorn's predecessor, Pam Iorio, had her own run-ins with Food Not Bombs back in 2004, when the group fed the homeless at Herman Massey Park.

Reason has been on the outlaw food beat for years now. Read more about San Antonio, Dallas, and Ft. Lauderdale cracking down on providing food to the homeless.

And watch ReasonTV's 2012 video about how Philadelphia passed a law outlawing the feeding of the homeless:

Advertisement

NEXT: What Trump SCOTUS Short-Lister Diane Sykes Had to Say About John Roberts and Judicial Deference

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “We warned them: You set up table, chairs and everything, that’s against ordinance,” a police spokesman told the Tampa Bay Times. “We told them exactly what would happen. And that’s exactly what happened.”

    It’s sort of refreshing to see such a forthright exercise of the Fuck You That’s Why clause.

    1. “I warned you I was going to punch you in the teeth if you said another word. I can’t be held accountable for assault just because you didn’t take that warning to heart.”

      1. The cops just really wanted to reenact the opening scene of the first episode of Justified, and couldn’t wait around for an occasion where that might make a bit of sense.

        1. “People over profits, people over profits, people over profits, …”

          That’s what they chanted here in the video… WTF!?!?! HOW in the Sacred Name of Government Almighty, can they blame (implied) greedy, selfish, free-market, free-trade-seeking “capitalists” for the heavy hands-fists-guns-etc., of Government Almighty?

          1. “People over profits” is the militant left’s variant of Allah Akbar!

            1. Well I’ll take a shot: The police are actually freeing up that space so drug dealers can sell drugs in the park because the police can shake them down for their profits. Ergo “People Over Profits”

    2. Is it the police’s fault that there’s a shit law?

      1. No, but it is the police’s fault that the law got enforced. NAZI prison guards had a choice, cops in AmeriKKKa have a choice…

        1. So it’s fair for members of the enforcement branch to decide which laws they endorse? If they so elect, they could therefore decide not to deport illegal immigrants?

          I watched the video. They weren’t zealously and eagerly enforcing the will of the state. They were just doing their jobs, and sometimes their job sucks. It’s not shoving people into ovens or gas chambers, it’s shutting down an illegal activity that shouldn’t be illegal and issuing citations for breaking codes. I can’t hate the cops for this, I can hate the city and the voters who have made permits so prohibitively expensive.

          1. NAP, Non-Aggression Principle, is morally correct. The cops were wrong here. Yes, they could refuse to do their jobs, in such matters, and should. They could go get honest jobs. Or, if they enforce just laws and refuse to enforce unjust laws, they can get fired… And live with a inner conscience that respects them!

            Yes, I think that anti-illegal-human laws are similarly unjust. A human is a human is a human… Only humans who have violated NAP should be punished or restrained…

            But thanks for having a thinking mind, those are too rare at times!

            1. I just have a difficult separating a political position from a moral one. If the public will has declared something illegal, and they hire agents to enforce the public will, those agents should work for the public.

              I think there’s a legitimate role for a police force, and they shouldn’t all quit doing their jobs if they disagree with a public policy. What if they think that body cameras are wrong, and they shouldn’t be forced to use them?

              1. I guess, in a way, the problem is sorting itself out… The public is getting the cops that they deserve, and cops are wrestling with their consciences, and winning or losing these battles with their consciences, as they see fit. Beyond that… From a cop-perspective… It gets into metaphysics… “What comes around, goes around”, karma, etc. Some cops have got a pretty high cosmic-karmic debt stacked up!

                But I have heard closely (2nd hand) of cops who will simply “turn a blind eye” to pot use, for example. If no one can prove that they didn’t see it? Well, then they simply didn’t see it! That’s a good start!

                1. There’s varying degrees of ignoring pot use, too. An officer might catch someone smoking weed in public and just give them a quick warning, “Hey, put that out.” In which case, you should probably put it out, and limit your marijuana use to being in a private location, for the same reason that public drunkenness can be unseemly. The police officer is still, in a sense, enforcing the law without attempting to arrest someone for a minor infraction.

                  In this case, the police attempted to say, “Hey, don’t do that,” by warning this organization that they’d be violating city statutes by feeding people without liability insurance. I’ll agree the law is crappy, but the police weren’t going out of their way to make arrests. They tried to prevent the activity so they wouldn’t have to make arrests. It’s certainly not a Nazi-esque use of police force, it’s just shitty government overregulation standing in the way of liberty.

          2. Every citizen has a civil duty to protect each other rights and cops are supposed to uphold the Constitution when they do their jobs. So an unjust law should be ignored and protested.

      2. YES

      3. No, but being the people with the choice to enforce or not enforce a shit law gives the police an important moral opportunity.

        1. Mind you, I see the reason behind laws against stuff like this and I’m not necessarily against them, I just think it behooves all involved to see both sides of the issue.

        2. It’s just difficult to see what framework defines the limits of moral opportunities. For example, I could imagine a local business owner having a political position, like say, not wanting to bake a cake for a gay wedding. If that store was vandalized and the police agreed with the position of the vandal, should they refuse to investigate the action for moral reasons?

          I can think of other similar issues that are politically charged in which I’d rather the police follow the legal statutes even if they find them unsavory. (suppose, for instance, police who strongly believe in gun control in a city that passes an open-carry statute deciding to harass gun owners) In this instance, they’re not shoving people into the ground or bloodying noses to do their job. They’re doing the minimum the job requires.

  2. I hope Tulpa comes by to weigh in on this.

    1. It’s just gonna sound like this: [slurp slurp smack sluuuurp]

      1. You forgot the gobble

        1. I was gonna type that but i kind of grossed myself out.

    2. What if a homeless person tries to eat too much and chokes to death? We have liability insurance for a reason.

      1. Yeah, and in a public park guess who’s going to pay for it. Sometime I wonder if Reason thinks these things all the way through first.

  3. Do you want ants homeless?!? Because this is how we get ants homeless!

    1. Someone should set up a homeless feeding stand in front of the activist’s house.

      1. I’m ambivalent. On the one hand if you want to help the homeless, do it on your property. On the other hand, public space should be open to the public. The solution is to get rid of public spaces, but I don’t know where the homeless would go if they can’t find a shelter. It’s not an easy problem.

        1. It’s not an easy problem.

          No, it’s not; but everyone’s gonna snark about it anyway.

        2. For what it is worth, I live just south of Tampa and my previous home was across the street from a small park that consisted of one large picnic shelter and a boat ramp. There were always homeless in the park but it was no big deal until a local church decided to start feeding the homeless in the park. From that point on no one could use the park. The homeless were aggressive towards anyone who entered the park and towards those of us who lived adjacent to the park. Breakins skyrocketed and I can’t tell you how many times homeless people knocked on my door in the middle of night looking for everything from cigarettes to booze to a can opener. As soon as the situation got under control and I could sell the house I got out of there. I’m sorry but I don’t think children should have to stay indoors in their own neighborhood because crazy naked people are washing their clothes in the water in the park.

          1. I’m sorry but I don’t think children should have to stay indoors in their own neighborhood because crazy naked people are washing their clothes in the water in the park.

            EXACTLY. Reasonoids are so fucking stupid on this issue, little better than leftists.

        3. The problem isn’t that hard.

          Start with these:
          1) Get rid of minimum wage
          2) Get rid of stupid licensing laws
          3) End prohibition

  4. Bob Buckhorn?

    He probably figures the free food is detracting from his steakhouse down the street.

  5. Private citizens helping the poor? Silly caring folks. This is Big Government’s territory. How are we going to maintain dependence on the state if people are legally prevented from giving a shit?

    1. That’s even what people were saying in the video. “We have to take care of these people because the government is failing to.” Basically, they think the government is supposed to be feeding them, but are doing it themselves. I sympathize with them shining light on a law or issue that needs to be visited, but to claim that it’s the government’s fault that people are hungry is a failure to hold the public at large responsible for helping fellow men.

    2. Private citizens COMMANDEERING PUBLIC PROPERTY to “help” the “poor”.

      I guarantee plenty of those “homeless” have nice pickup trucks.

  6. while they were serving up some tasty quinoa and mushrooms

    [citation needed]

    1. Seriously. Can we be certain that it wasn’t the homeless people that ratted them out?

    2. Quinoa with mushrooms is delicious. Especially if it also has bacon, caramelized onions, and some nice sharp cheese on top.

      1. And the stone. Don’t forget *the stone*.

        1. This isn’t UnCivilServant’s house. We don’t have to resort to chowing down on some minerals just because all food tastes the same to us.

    3. Have you ever had quinoa in soup? It’s pretty tasty.

    4. Maybe they drench it in old deep-fryer grease?

    5. ^ this

      I’ve actually been homeless during an eight-month span in my early twenties.

      The sheer primal urge to survive is the only thing that would have persuaded me to eat that(I fucking hate mushrooms).

      1. *morels are the sole exception, and even they gave me food poisoning the last time I went on a hunt.

        And yes, I knocked the spores out and soaked them in salt water for a day before frying them.

  7. Food Not Bombs food is worth considerably less than you pay for it. One fork full and you’ll have yet another reason to want to kill communists.

  8. All activists, regardless of what they’re activisting for, should just be arrested anyway.

  9. So if I take food to a park to share with friends and family, do they have to provide proof of having a residence so I won’t get arrested? Do they expect people to get permits for birthday parties,etc., at parks?

    If I were ridiculously wealthy I would probably spend all of my money paying for good council for the subjects of reason’s stories.

    1. For parties you are suppose to get a permit. Stupid I know.

    2. If you’re just having a family picnic, it would be clear that you’re not handing food out to anybody who shows up.

  10. FnB are just encouraging people to quit their jobs and live on the streets so they can get free food.

  11. These activities hurt the town. They need numbers.

  12. I’ll bet one or two of these activists eventually becomes a libertarian.

  13. I kinda prefer Food AND Bombs myself. Gives the police something to think about.

  14. So, this piece is just a leeetle bit hyperventilation and dog whistles. The reason behind laws like the ones the police here are enforcing and similar panhandling laws around the country is to keep public spaces accessible to the public at large. Let’s stipulate that nobody wants anyone to starve and we all agree that feeding the homeless is a noble endeavor. The issue is that you’re creating an environment where a significant amount of space is going to become an event with a crowd who are going to linger. This limits access to the space and presents security concerns just by virtue of the fact that you’re putting a bunch of people in a space standing in line to get something they want. If you’re just minding your business and trying to take your dog or kid to the park, you don’t want to deal with a crowd of folks standing around waiting for free stew, particularly if they might subsequently bug you for change.

  15. This is why we need private police not government police. You get harmed, you hire police to investigate etc. (Probably insurance would cover a lot of cases.)

    In this case, the park owner (even if it’s the city) has to hire the police to evict trespassers or those who violate the terms of use. THEN it can properly be up to the cops to decide if they want the job.

    1. Private security and private investigators already exist. Those are the easy parts of police work to replace.

      What no one has presented a credible private substitute for is the (necessary) ability to drag a suspect out of their home, lock them in a cage, and decide whether they are guilty and what their punishment should be. Without that, private security and investigators are fairly pointless.

      1. I got your answer, and yes, I am answering sarcasm seriously, so bear with me!

        Anyone connected to a case should be able to create and execute, or hire others to create and/or execute, their own warrants. Warrants can be appealed before execution: they must be concise, clear, minimal, and relevant. When you execute a warrant, it becomes a bet of sorts: if you lose the case, or if your execution is deemed excessive or not in agreement with the warrant, then it rebounds on you: your target gets to do to you whatever you did to them. If you locked them up for six months, they get to lock you up for six months. If you waterboarded them, they get to waterboard you. If you froze their assets, they get to freeze yours.

        Of course, all these hypotheticals must have passed muster if the target appealed them, and I doubt they would unless you were a flight risk.

        Also of course, unless a warrant was executed dickishly, or the rebounder is a dick, most people would settle for plain old cash in lieu of actually repeating the execution.

        I especially like it for traffic tickets. If you beat the ticket, you get to pull the cop over, humiliate him by the side of the road, make him show up at the courthouse and wait for several hours, just to be told to come back in a month for the next stage.

        Accountability: ain’t it marvelous!

  16. Question to the very righteous commenters here.

    What would you do if a visitor to your house spread shredded cheese all over the floor, and the next week you have a mouse and roach infestation?

    If FNB wants to feed the homeless, they can do it on their own property. Oh you don’t want nasty crazy dirty homeless hanging out at your own property? Now you know how the community feels about its park property.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.