Raleigh police threaten arrest for charity feeding homeless

Raleigh police talking with volunteers with Love Wins Ministries (Image courtesy Love Wins Ministries)
August 26, 2013 3:39:23 PM PDT
A group from a local church has been feeding the homeless in downtown Raleigh virtually every Saturday and Sunday for the past six years, until this weekend.

When volunteers from Love Wins Ministries showed up at Moore Square Saturday morning, they said they were greeted with officers from the Raleigh Police Department. The group wrote on their blog, that the officers told them if they distributed any food to the nearly 70 people waiting, they would be arrested.

The 100 sausage biscuits and gallons of coffee went uneaten because of the fear of arrests.

The group said in the past they had a good relationship with the Raleigh Police Department. Because of a city ordinance, the distribution of food in any of the city's parks is prohibited.

? Click here to read the city ordinance ?

Love Ministries' Rev. Hugh Hollowell said that if the group were to get a permit to distribute the food it would cost $800 each day.

However, the group said they would set up on the sidewalk, making sure to clean up after themselves and keep the sidewalk clear.

Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue told ABC11 that no arrests were made Saturday in connection with the feeding activity.

"People were simply informed the ordinance prohibits the kinds of actions some groups have been engaged in at the park. Work is ongoing with those involved, some of whom are developing alternative sites, etc.," Sughrue said.

The group has asked for help from the public in finding a private building or parking lot downtown that they can use to feed the hungry.

Several groups rallied in support of the group Sunday afternoon at Moore Square. Love Ministries said it did not organize the event and that they just want to feed the homeless. Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane was on hand at the rally and talked with Hollowell.

"I can't tell you why it kind of came up just now, I think it's really been recognized that its growing and growing, there's more need," McFarlane said. "I'm sorry for the confrontation or whatever happened yesterday, but I think the outcome is going to be good."

Meanwhile,many who live, work, or own businesses around the area say groups coming downtown with food can cause a lot of problems.

"This is something that's become a bigger issue," said David Diaz, with the Downtown Business Alliance. "I think it potentially could discourage people from coming back to patronize their business. Again, I think it's a combination of not just the feedings , but the amount of loitering."

McFarlane said there will be a special meeting to address the issue.

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