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: