Activists who hope to feed the homeless in a popular Orlando park are fed up with the city’s mayor, who opposes the meals and has ordered police to arrest volunteers serving them, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
The activist group, called Food Not Bombs, has angered Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. Regular meals served at the city’s Lake Eola Park by members of the anti-poverty organization are in violation of city code, which allows any one group to receive only two permits for group feedings per park each year, according to Central Florida News 13.
Food Not Bombs has used both of their permits, but continued feedings at the same park. As a result, 29 people have been arrested, according to their Web site, foodnotbombs.net.
A July 11 compromise between Dyer and the group resulted in a new permit allowing volunteers to serve the homeless in front of City Hall.
“He said that we can come down here every time. So I guess he’s going to issue them anytime,” Brock Monroe, a Food Not Bombs volunteer, told News 13.
The compromise did not come without a fight. At a City Council meeting the same day, Food Not Bombs members asked Dyer to stop arrests and repeal the city’s group feeding restrictions according to The Orlando Sentinel. The group said the city should not be ashamed of the homeless population.
“It’s clearly an issue of out of sight, out of mind,” Samantha Johnson, 21, told commissioners. “You just can’t shove them into Parramore,” she said, referring to a location in Orlando’s downtown.
Commissioner Patty Sheehan argued that crime rates go up during the group’s feeding day in the park. Dyer added that families were reluctant to visit the park.
“There are competing interests for the park,” Dyer said, according to the Sentinel. “You have to get a permit to do virtually anything in the park…There are a lot of people who feel very uncomfortable about using the park when your group is there.”
Volunteers were offered other parks to feed the homeless, but they said they needed a location that could meet their political message to end poverty, and tables, shade and restrooms had to be available.
In spite of the objectives of the volunteers, the mayor nevertheless agreed to allow the group to convene in front of City Hall the same day as long as feedings cease at the park, according to the Sentinel.