Seven Arrested For Feeding Homeless Without Permit

Tampa police arrested a group of seven people that were serving food to the homeless without a permit.

Cell phone video of their arrest was posted on Facebook and received thousands of views.

Tampa police say the group, “Food Not Bombs” did not get the City’s approval or the correct permits to distribute food to the homeless.

According to WTSP, the group had been serving food in Gaslight Park Saturday afternoon in front of the police department. Police spokesman Steve Hegarty said officers explained that city ordinances prohibited food distribution without permitting. Officers also offered alternatives to distribute food in a different location, but the group continued to set up tables.

“The officers attempted to give them other alternatives to distribute food somewhere other than a city park, since they did not acquire a permit. Despite these attempts at conversation, the group continued to set up tables. Police gave multiple verbal warnings over a three minute time span explaining that they were being trespassed and that they would be arrested if they did not stop distributing food. The seven defendants listed refused to listen to multiple warnings and ignored police. A final warning was given and the defendants were ultimately arrested.”

“This event was advertised on Facebook and it was verified by Parks and Recreation that the group did not receive City approval or the proper permitting to hold such an event,” Hegarty said to WTSP.

Among the arrested were six servers and one outside person. They did not receive jail time, but were given notices to appear in court on misdemeanor charges. Those arrested included Bert Donaldson, Dezeray Rubinchik, Jason Grimes, James Dunson, William Payton, Roger Butterfield and Christopher Mince.

Hegarty also added to WTSP, “Tampa Police supports efforts to feed the homeless. TPD homeless liaisons work closely with the homeless and with area agencies and groups that provide resources to the homeless. In most cases, groups that provide resources to the homeless want to do it the right way. In this case, Tampa Police met with members of the group in the week prior explaining the need for a permit, and efforts were made to find a solution so they would be able to provide food to homeless. The group chose to violate a city ordinance rather than adhere to either law or use options that would have allowed them to serve the people. We will continue to work with this group, and other groups, who wish to provide food and resources to the homeless.”