Orlando police have unbelievably arrested 21-year-old Eric Montanez, an activist with the charity “Food Not Bombs”, for feeding 30 homeless people in downtown Orlando.
A city ordinance, supported by businesses which claim the homeless frighten away customers, prevents feeding more than 25 homeless persons within two miles of Orlando City Hall. The law does allow charities to feed more than 25 people at a time with a special permit, but only allows two such special permits per year. Perhaps they feel charitable only on Christmas and Thanksgiving?
I’ve been in downtown Orlando. It’s no different from any other large city, insofar as the homeless population is concerned. It’s also nothing special, and chances are this ordinance has little to do with the homeless frightening customers, and everything to do with the people who work downtown not wanting to deal with them.
Police videotaped Montanez as he fed the needy some stew from a large kettle. They later arrested him and charged him with a misdemeanor for violating the ordinance, and took a sample of the stew as evidence. A police spokesperson said that Montanez is the first person to be arrested under the controversial law.
Frankly, I hope he prevails in court, and that the law is found to be unconstitutional. After all, it is a restriction on the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. Besides, charities historically have done a much better job of caring for the needy, but that wouldn’t let the government have quite so much control, would it? The charities go where the needy are, and in most cases, they’re downtown. The government needs to butt out, and let the charities do what they do best.
I also have to wonder if there is any connection between this action and the name of the charity, “Food Not Bombs”. There may be more to this than meets the eye.