Tampa Police arrest 7 for sharing food without permit

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On Saturday Tampa Police arrested seven volunteers with Tampa Food Not Bombs for sharing food with hungry people in a city park without a permit — and activists say a repeat scene could occur Tuesday morning when they will ignore trespass warnings in order to make sure hungry people have a meal; all of this is happening as the focus of much of the country is on Tampa as it hosts the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Monday. In fact, Saturday’s arrests occurred while a major related event was going on in nearby Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park: a free concert featuring national acts.

Joining us on MidPoint Monday was one of those arrested, Jimmy Dunson, who was also arrested in 2004 by Tampa Police for sharing food.


Last Tuesday WMNF News reported that Tampa Police had disrupted a Food Not Bombs food sharing event in the same downtown public park, Gaslight Square. A police spokesperson said that groups can share food with hungry people but a city ordinance requires them to get a city permit first. Food Not Bombs indicated it would not request a permit and Saturday’s feeding would continue. The group says the seven members who were arrested Saturday were given trespass warnings and told not to return to the park for one year. Despite that, member Dezeray Lyn says that they still plan to share food on Tuesday with people without homes or anyone else who wants food.


“Today, in downtown Tampa at Gaslight Park, police arrested 7 people that were volunteering with Food Not Bombs, sharing food, including myself.

“We’ve all been trespassed from the park for a year.

“The police were then seen, after we were arrested, closing off boxes full of pastries that helpless folks were trying to get to eat.

“We absolutely will continue to defy this ordinance–this unjust City Ordinance. We’ll be back out at Gaslight Park at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning to continue with our regular Tuesday morning food shares and we’ll be out again next Saturday at 4:00 p.m. So, if anybody’s able to come out and support us, we’re Tampa Food Not Bombs. We share food twice a week in downtown Tampa. We’ve done it for years and we’ll keep doing it for years, as long as people are suffering and food is scarce.”

In 2004 four members of Food Not Bombs were arrested for sharing food without a permit, but the group says the city has rarely given it trouble for doing so in the years since.

Here are some videos posted on social media of Saturday’s arrests:

From Chris Regalado:

From Cliff Kelley:

From Ox Mince:

From Erin Sauer:

From Bruce Wright:

Watch the full show here:


  • James Jury

    florida also has rules where they ISSUE DRIVERS LICENSES to little kids of 8 or 9 years old and immediately revoke them till they pay a fine for being caught riding a bike to school without a helet. the police hide in bushes, and walk out on the side walk and give the kid a real ticket…no parents or schools told… the kid is expected to give a signature like any normal ticket…the kid then doesnt pay, thinking its not a big deal….they are kids…afraid to tell parents..they will say “a police officer told me to get a helmet.” or they HAVE one and forgot it, or had it on hanging off their heads…so then time passes, and they get the 60 dollar fine…when they turn 18, they start off with a suspended license…a REAL one…

  • andre carr

    We need more upstanding citizens like Mr. Micah Xavier Johnson to drop by the Tampa police station and deal with these cops in the video and their wife and kids as well!

  • MB

    They were given notices to appear in court. I wonder what the judge will say?

  • Kyah Kelley

    Idk if they tried to get permits or not, but if they didn’t they should have. I still don’t agree that anyone should have been arrested. Maybe a small fine and a minor violation penalty, kinda like a parking ticket. They had an order, but they should be able to use their own better judgment and let these ppl help the homeless. That’s no way to help your community by arresting the pillars that hold it up.

    • Kyah Kelley

      Okay scratch that, if it was ruled in Tampa that food could be distributed on public property then that should rule over some stupid city ordinance laws.