Arrested for feeding the homeless

ORLANDO, Fla. - As city police officers here arrested four people for distributing food to the homeless, June 8, a crowd of mostly young activists chanted, "Food is a right, not a privilege!" In two weeks of civil disobedience, 15 people involved with Food Not Bombs have been arrested so far in the city. Hundreds more supporters, many of them students, have come to rally behind the homeless and people who are feeding them.

Food Not Bombs is an international organization that distributes food while calling attention to war spending.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer issued an ordinance in July 2006 that criminalized the distribution of food to more than 24 people at a time in public parks. The ordinance coincided with the gentrification of downtown Orlando. In particular, Lake Eola Park, where Food Not Bombs has been distributing food to the homeless, is in the heart of a new strip of expensive condominiums.

Thomas Hellinger, a member of the local Young Communist League, was one of the four people who were arrested last Wednesday. Hellinger told the People's World that when he got to jail, people around him were asking him why Food Not Bombs didn't just move their food operations to a private location.

"I explained to them that first of all, we don't have another place downtown that works like the park," said Hellinger. "Homeless people have a right to access parks just like anyone else, and it's a nice place to eat. The city tried moving us to other locations in the past, like parking lots and abandoned buildings, but then it comes back to a question of human dignity."

The Young Communist League and students from the University of Central Florida have been committed to the struggle to reverse Mayor Dyer's ordinance for several years now. UWire reported that the United Church of Christ and Islam, Inc., were other organizations represented at Wednesday's protest.

Solidarity actions in Italy, Japan and Detroit are already under way in support of the Orlando food distributors.

Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry is calling on all activists who are able to travel to Orlando to do so to participate in the civil disobedience. The group plans to conduct three feedings a week in Lake Eola Park, on Monday mornings, Wednesday evenings, and Friday afternoons. In addition, those wanting to support the effort from home can sign an online petition at, or call Mayor Buddy Dyer at 407.246.2221.




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  • The good news is the money is there to feed and provide medical care for every person in the US. The bad news is all the money is going into a few pockets. We can change the system by taxing incomes to 99% so if a CEO gets a year end bonus of anything over whatever the salary of a current US president he gets to keep 1%. The current stock market is a ponzi scheme but could be fixed by requiring corporations to pay dividends based on revenues and not allowing deductions for expenses of any salaries in excess of the current benchmark.

    Posted by Bob Anderson, 06/22/2011 2:39pm (5 years ago)

  • Maybe if these losers would actually work the city this wouldn't happen. Food not Bombs is not the only organization to help feed homeless people in the Orlando area. Its be quoted that the Orlando mayor wants FNB to move the activity to the city hall steps, yet the kids don't want to. This group is an arrogant group refusing to let the city help/ establish them selves as an organization. They're nothing but spoiled suburbanite rich kid anarchist seeking attention from the media. How would you like it if I came to your front lawn and started feeding homeless people? Would you call the cops on me too?

    Posted by Greg Racaun, 06/17/2011 2:04pm (5 years ago)

  • It's funny how people are allowed to feed the ducks at Lake Eola and not feed the people. Isn't it ironic how people love animals more than people...?? Just think...When a person see a dog...they are like how cute the dogg is and how much they want to pet the dogg...When people see a homeless animal...the first thing they want to do is reach out and help that animal...But when the people see a homeless person the first thing they do is look down upon them with disgust...The people do not even take the time to know how that person ended up in the situation that they are in...because some one is homeless do not mean they are garbage that need to be taken out...They need love and compassion just as a animal does...

    Posted by deangelo, 06/15/2011 7:24pm (5 years ago)

  • Hurray for these young people in Orlando who are standing up! Not only is being, poor, hungry or homeless being criminalized - now HELPING the poor, hungry or homeless is becoming a crime!

    Posted by Bobbie, 06/15/2011 6:10pm (5 years ago)

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