FIRST, and FOREMOST, I'd like to say I'm disgusted with the lack of media coverage by the Times Daily, and TNValleyTalks, and news media mediums nationwide. Your lack of national news coverage that needs to be known is allowing distant communities to do these extremely unjust things.
With that being said, here's the story, which I've written specifically based on the newest update, and how I would EXPECT to see it in my TIMES DAILY newspaper. You should all EXPECT it too. Unless someone can do better, which obviously they can't if they haven't yet, because this is a big topic.
Orlando, FL. - On June, 25, 2006, City Officials in Orlando banned charitable groups from feeding homeless people in parks downtown, arguing that transients who gather for weekly meals create safety and sanitary problems for businesses. The measure prevents serving large groups in parks and other public property within two miles of City Hall without a permit. Food Not Bombs, an activist organization, had been offering vegetarian meals in the area for over a year, and said they had no intention of stopping.
Text of the Ordinance: http://orlandofoodnotbombs.org/ordinancetext.html
Now, five years later, along with new restrictions on the ordinance, unnecessary police intervention is growing. In the past month, 21 activist have been arrested for providing fresh vegetarian meals to the homeless, including the six most recent arrests linked to providing two homeless children with fresh food. In the following video, you can see police officers arrest the activists and actually take food from the young children. You can hear the protesters shouting,"Public parks for public needs."
So where do they eat? The ordinance points out an area that was previously a parking area for Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) vehicles, which protesters say seems to be in about as remote a location as the city possibly could find. The city promised it would be open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They changed that in December. The hours are now nine a.m. to four p.m. and the gates are locked. Groups that wish to share food there must register their sharings with the City Clerk's Office in order to have the gates unlocked. So much for the City's promises that Sylvia Lane would be open 24-7 without any sort of permission required for its use.
Attorney Shayan Elahi, was quoted saying the mayor should be charged with contempt of court. A federal appeals court said the city of Orlando can restrict the number of times Food Not Bombs holds public feedings each year. When Food Not Bombs exceeded that number, police began making arrests. Elahi said arresting people for this violation VIOLATES an administrative order. "The mayor is completely dismissive of that administrative order or he is not aware of that," Elahi said. According to the order, violators of a municipal or county ordinance should NOT be physically arrested, but given a notice to appear in court instead.
- Tyler McCreless