In Raleigh, feeding the homeless is now a crime

Apparently a sausage biscuit is a perilous threat:

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.

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.”

Having to deal with the homeless in our public places may be an inconvenience, tarnishing our leisure time by being exposed to the harsh truths of the holes in our Capitalist dream society. But is the maintenance of our moods important enough to limit the freedoms of those who have lost everything but their freedom? That was meant to be a rhetorical question. If you have to think about it for more than a few nanoseconds, you may be more of a threat to our society than those who are missing that sausage biscuit today.

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 hugh@lovewins.info.

Comments

When I saw this on Twitter earlier,

I had just finished fixing breakfast, and was preparing to tuck in. I actually made two biscuits, just to make sure I wouldn't be bothered by hunger mid-afternoon and be forced to snack on something to get me by 'til dinnertime.

After reading this, those biscuits lost much of their flavor.

It surely does upset one's stomach

And what's with the RPD officer's apparent attitude?

Apparently at least one Raleigh city council member is looking into this.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

McCrory's court date

So ... when's Deputy Assistant Governator McCrory's court date for handing out cookies inside the city limits?

Mayor McFarlane responds to issue

On Sunday, Raleigh Mayor McFarlane released the following statement:

"Raleigh is a progressive city that believes in the values of each of its citizens. We are so fortunate to have dedicated citizens that want to reach out to those in need. We will be taking this issue into the Law and Public Safety Committee.

Read more from Bob Geary here:
http://www.indyweek.com/citizen/archives/2013/08/25/feeding-the-homeless-in-moore-square-barred-by-r...

Last time I looked over 80 readers had posted comments on WTVD's story on this issue.

Martha Brock

I'm sure the phone lines have been zinging

Or would it be the cell towers zinging? Whatever the case, doing damage control on the weekend is bound to be a pain in the ass. It's better than going hungry, though.

What?!?

This crackdown was in the works for weeks or months (per Indy story)?!?

But policy makers weren't aware of it?

Who ordered it? Why? And why should that person not be fired?

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Bob Geary explains and updates the story

Feeding the homeless in Raleigh barred by cops until Mayor and Council intervene.

This story is exploding on social media since it was posted by Love Wins, a ministry in Raleigh. Human Beans Together is another group suddenly barred by the Raleigh police from giving out food to the homeless in Moore Square on the weekends, when soup kitchens don't operate.

Folks are heading to Moore Square today at 4, when Food Not Bombs is intending to do its regular food distribution — or try, anyway.

[See update by Geary online at www.indyweek.com: City Council members met with media.]

Read the linked blog post for background.

Everyone wants to know why the Raleigh City Council is doing this. The short answer is, this is the Raleigh city administration at work, not the Council. Right now, Council members and Mayor McFarlane are working the phones trying to figure out what the administration is doing .. and why.

Martha Brock

I repeat...

Who ordered it? Why? And why should that person not be fired?

(Hope that's not over-the-top or name calling :-/ )

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Fired

Meals for the Homeless: I blame the Raleigh Council

OK, I posted Mayor McFarlane's answer.

My own take? The City Council passed the ordinance, not the staff. Watch both the Mayor and the City Council try to hide behind some unfortunate city employee, who gets to take the blame for Council members up for re-election in October.

Most of the Councillors (including the Mayor) at the press conference were on the Council, when the ordinance in question was passed. How can they pass the buck to staff? Because the media lets them off the hook.

Seems to me that the staff/police were under pressure from citizen (Mclaurin) to enforce an ordinance and did so--after several warnings to the non-profits serving the meals.
McLaurin is not just any citizen, however. Owns McLaurin Parking, a company which has lucrative contracts with the City of Raleigh to operate downtown parting lots.

This issue is not just about being an unfeeling cop or two, as the smell test will show as the story ripens.

Martha Brock

It's unanimous...

...that the current situation is really stupid and the negative publicity is...er...unwelcome.

Let the finger pointing begin!

At least it appears that all the parties are embarrassed enough to seek a "do the right thing" solution.

What a shame it had to come to this. As if NC needed more national humiliation.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

I am confused; but at least I admit it

Some of the stories from different sources point in different directions--speaking of finger pointing:

The N&O, the latest to report on this issue, in just one article first points to the ordinance for use of park space, then contradicts that as the reason for the problem later in the same article. The police claim an ordinance was broken and some say the groups had been warned before.

The WRAL story cites the city parks' ordinance as the crux of the problem, but the N&O says the non-profit was serving the meal on private property owned by McLaurin, when giving out the meals.

I need to clarify my accusation against the Council. I read first that the ordinance was passed in the last 6 years. The WRAL story links to the ordinance, but I can't tell how long it has been in force. Nonetheless, the Mayor and the council members involved have been around long enough to have addressed the issue.

Also, the groups and the leaders involved could have gotten a permit as suggested earlier by Raleigh PD. They chose not to pay the permit fee. This is going to take some investigating in order to pinpoint who really did what.

Martha Brock

As far as permits,

this is from the original blog posting:

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.

That was not from an unbiased source, Steve

The original posting comes from the blog of one of the non-profits that was involved, not from a media outlet.

While I am sympathetic to their position to a point, and I agree the Council needs to address any ordinance that imposes an undue burden, I think they, or other groups, were warned several times, and this should not have been a surprise to the people distributing the food this past weekend.

"In a statement released Sunday, Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue wrote, “No arrests were made in connection with the feeding activity; people were simply informed of a city ordinance that prohibits the actions some groups have been engaged in at the park. Work is ongoing with those involved, some of whom are developing alternative sites.”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/25/3135843/police-stop-charities-feeding.html#storylink=cpy
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Note: Some of the ambiguity of the N&O story has been cleared up with editing done last night after I posted about it.

Martha Brock

It was also a primary source

It was written by somebody who was actually there when it happened. Granted, the author couldn't tell us the nature of the ordinance being violated, but that's because the police didn't (or couldn't) provide that answer when asked.

I understand what you're saying about bias, Martha. I generally don't use a blog post as the anchor of a diary. But when it's written by a witness/participant, it may end up being less biased than a third-hand interview with a government spokesperson.

$800

Seems a bit exorbitant to me.

Just sayin'

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"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Reading comments is interesting

Just read comments on this story on the WRAL site.

Amazing the number of commenters who suggest that at least some of the people lined up for free food were somehow not "deserving."

But when I read the story in Matthew's gospel, I don't recall any mention of Jesus telling the disciples to make sure the loaves and fishes were not given to anyone who didn't deserve it...

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

And one other thing...

There are probably about 30 better ways to have handled this issue...

For example, if this is on private property, the property owner, the city, the various ministries handing out food, and the M-F soup kitchen could have gotten together and worked out a reasonable arrangement so that homeless people could have been fed somehow, somewhere in the city.

If the issue is sanitation, then the ministries would I'm sure have left the place cleaner than they found it every week.

I can't imagine a private property owner instigating this kind of police action -- if that is the case that will be a public relations nightmare for the property owner, the police, and the city elected officials.

No doubt there is a fair amount of posturing going on. Meanwhile, there are hungry people who need to be fed.

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR