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Orlando Police Can’t Find Real Criminals, Arrest Three People for Feeding Homeless

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By HVnews on June 6, 2011

There are some things that make you a little embarrassed to be a part of the human race.

Members of Food Not Bombs, the anti-poverty group that does outrageous things like keeping people from staving to death on the streets, were arrested for feeding a large group of homeless people in a park in Orlando, Florida.

Police claimed the do-gooder trio was intentionally violating a city ordinance that was passed earlier this year.

According to the Orlando Sentinel:

Jessica Cross, 24, Benjamin Markeson, 49, and Jonathan “Keith” McHenry, 54, were arrested at 6:10 p.m. on a charge of violating the ordinance restricting group feedings in public parks. McHenry is a co-founder of the international Food Not Bombs movement, which began in the early 1980s.

“They basically carted them off to jail for feeding hungry people,” said Douglas Coleman, who was not present. “For them to regulate a time and place for free speech and to share food, that is unacceptable.”

Food Not Bombs had been feeding the homeless on Mondays and Wednesdays in Orlando parks for more than five years. In spite of the arrests and the ordinance, Food Not Bombs has vowed to continue feeding the homeless in Orlando’s parks.

The ordinance, which went into effect earlier this year after a protracted court battle, makes it illegal to feed groups larger then 25 people and limits the number or permits such groups can acquire.

The members of Food Not Bombs could each face a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail for violating the ordinance. Two of the three that were arrested were released on $250 bail. McHenry elected to stay in jail while the legal proceedings took their course.

The Orlando Sentinel captured this video of Ben Markeson speaking outside the Orange County Jail after he was released on bail:

This isn’t the first time a group has gotten in trouble for being altruistic. Earlier this year a Houston couple got in trouble for running a “feed a friend” program that fed as many as 100 people a day. The city claimed it didn’t have the necessary permits.

Shouldn’t there be laws in place that make it okay for you to help those less fortunate? And even if you can’t put something so reasonable on the books, maybe authorities could just turn a blind eye when they see someone doing something that’s actually helping people.

It also makes you wonder how ignorant people are of what’s going on in their own communities that they would actually allow their local governments to put laws like this on the books in the first place.

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