TAMPA — Prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges against seven people arrested for refusing to stop feeding the homeless in Lykes Gaslight Square Park.
Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren announced Tuesday that his office would not move forward with the cases stemming from the Jan. 7 arrests. Seven people were given notices to appear in court on trespassing charges after they were warned about violating a city ordinance that requires a permit and insurance policy to distribute food in the way Food Not Bombs has done for years. (full story)
Background on the 7 arrested here
Last August, the city of Columbia, South Carolina approved a new plan to give its homeless population an impossible choice: leave downtown or be arrested.
The city is now taking even more steps to criminalize homelessness. On Saturday, it will begin to strictly enforce an old and seldom-used ordinance requiring groups of 25 or more to obtain a permit and pay a hefty fee before congregating in a public park.
One impacted charity that was interviewed by the Free Times, Food Not Bombs, has been serving food to the homeless in Finlay Park every Sunday for 12 years. The group’s organizer, Judith Turnipseed, noted that the group has an impeccable track record and always tidies up after the meal. But with the new crackdown, Food Not Bombs will have to pay at least $120 per week for the right to feed the homeless, an extremely tall order for a group that’s not even an official 501(c)(3) organization but just serves out of the goodness of its heart.
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