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Church Group Threatened With Arrest for Feeding the Homeless

A report by ABCNews told the story of a ministry in Raleigh, N.C., who was told by police to stop giving out breakfast to the homeless in a local park or risk arrest. Love Wins Ministries had been distributing coffee and breakfast sandwiches to anyone who wanted one in Moore Square in downtown Raleigh every weekend for the past six years without incident. But this past weekend, several officers met them as they arrived and told them jail was waiting for anyone who fed the crowd that had gathered to eat that morning.

“An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested,” the Rev. Hugh Hollowell wrote on the group’s website. “We asked the officers for permission to disperse the biscuits to the over 70 people who had lined up, waiting to eat. They said no. I had to face those who were waiting and tell them that I could not feed them, or I would be arrested.”

Raleigh police told the ministers that they were enforcing a city ordinance that bans the distribution of food in the park. They were also informed that in order to use the park, they would have to obtain an $800/day permit.

According to the ministry’s website, they are not interested in trying to subvert the system; they just want to be able to feed the hungry. “On the weekends people have no where else to go other than the park because Wake County and/or the City of Raleigh offers no soup kitchens or other options on the weekends,” Hollowell wrote on the ministry’s blog. “Our work of bringing biscuits to the park has been mentioned in multiple full-page articles in the local paper over the years. We have had countless routine conversations with the police … while, according to the City of Raleigh, it might be illegal to feed hungry people, it is most assuredly the right thing to do.”

The ministry is encouraging supporters to contact the mayor’s office and express their concern.

“Keep in mind that we win over no one with anger or rudeness,” Hollowell concluded. “Anger does not cast out fear—only love can do that.”