A group of volunteers sharing food with the homeless in Tampa, Florida were recently arrested for the crime of generosity.
In two separate videos, Tampa Police Department officers are seen arresting volunteers with the group Food Not Bombs, which feeds the homeless and hungry in public, urban spaces. Police say the seven volunteers were arrested for serving good without a permit, though Food Not Bombs maintains it did nothing wrong, and has served food in that same location without a permit over 100 times with no interference from law enforcement, according to CLTampa.com. In a public statenent issued to local media, the Tampa Food Not Bombs chapter stated that it will continue to feed the needy despite threats from the city and local police.
“[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 statement read. “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.”
“Compassion should never be criminalized,” the statement read.
The arrests appear to be part of a concerted effort to clear downtown Tampa of “undesirable” elements in the leadup to Monday night’s college football national championship game between Clemson and Alabama. The website Photography Is Not a Crime reported that the Food Not Bombs arrests took place at roughly the same time as a concert promoting the upcoming game was taking place in the vicinity.
Watch video of the arrests below:
Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media. Follow his work on the Oublic Banking Institute blog.