Florida cops arrested seven volunteers from an activist group called Food Not Bombs for feeding homeless people in a park Saturday afternoon.
Tampa police say they made the arrests because the group doesn’t have a permit to serve the food, which requires an insurance policy.
But Food Not Bombs has served food in the same park more than 100 times without problems, according to cltampa.com.
Local critics suggest officials are cracking down on the practice due to several sporting events being hosted by the city this week including the College Football Playoff National Championship, which will be played Monday at Raymond James Stadium between the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide.
So they would rather not have the less fortunate gathered in highly visible places for their visiting guests.
Activists with Food Not Bombs were warned earlier in the week, so they knew their actions were illegal.
They fed the homeless anyway.
Some of the activists arrested were still wearing plastic gloves they use for sanitary purposes to serve the food.
When police arrived, they gave the activists three minutes to stop serving food to the needy.
Video taken by someone at the event shows some volunteers ignored the threats and continued serving food, even as their fellow volunteers were being arrested.
“Please help yourselves,” one says to his comrades who are still serving food just before they are placed in cuffs.
Tampa cops arrested one man who reached for a bagel to snack on.
After being arrested, the group sent an email to the press Saturday night stating it “has no plans to stop sharing food with the homeless and hungry and will continue to defy unjust laws that criminalize compassion and mutual aid.”
Food Not Bombs plans on gathering in the same location to feed the homeless again at 8 a.m. this Tuesday.
“We intend to expose the city’s cruelty in the face of thousands in our community who are struggling with issues of food insecurity, mental and medical health issues, poverty, and homelessness,” a spokesperson for Food Not Bombs wrote in an email.
“If the city will not address these problems, the least they can do is not get in the way and stop others from addressing these needs. Compassion should never be criminalized.”
Tampa Bay police arrested the activists around the same time a concert associated with the College Football National Championship was taking place.
The video below was originally posted on Kriz Partridge’s Facebook page along with a second video.