Florida Couple Threatened With Jail Time For Feeding Homeless In Violation Of Local Ordinance

Florida couple threatened with jail time for feeding homeless in violation of local ordinance (Natural News, May 27, 2014):

A Florida couple who has been feeding homeless folks in a public park for over a year was cited recently for allegedly violating a local ordinance. Daytona Beach police officers says Debbie and Chico Jimenez are not allowed to serve home-cooked meals at Manatee Island Park without the proper permits, and threatened to arrest them on top of giving them each a $373 ticket for serving the homeless without permission.

NBC News reports that the couple’s ministry, known as “Spreading the Word Without Saying a Word,” has been serving healthy meals every Wednesday at the park for over a year. The Jimenezes claim that police officers never told them that they needed a permit, and are often at the park when the meals are being distributed. Only recently, they say, did it become a problem.

“We were given 10 days to either pay the fine or tell them we’re going to court,” stated Debbie to reporters. “We’re going to court. The police don’t like it. But how can we turn our backs on the hungry? We can’t.”

Debbie and her husband both quit their jobs to devote their lives to the project, which involves feeding more than 100 people weekly alongside several other volunteers. The couple says many of the people they serve have become like family members, which makes the issue an even more sensitive one.

“I have cried and cried and cried,” stated Debbie, a former auto parts store manager. “The worst thing is, these are people we have grown to love, they’ve become like family to us, and now we’re not allowed to go down and do that anymore. It’s just heartbreaking.”

City says Jimenezes were warned about violations, told to coordinate with city on charity projects

Six people in total, including the Jimenezes, were cited by Daytona Beach police officers, who say the group was given proper notice about the permits. A week prior to the issuance of the citations, the Jimenezes were warned that some of the people they were serving were destroying the park, including urinating and defecating on the grounds, according to Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood.

“We as a city have spent millions of dollars to turn that park into a place for families, kids, and dog lovers,” stated Chitwood to reporters in defense of the citations. “We have an ordinance that says when people want to perform acts of kindness or charity that they must coordinate with our local social service agencies.”

There is a fine line between performing acts of charity and disrupting the peace, especially in a public park used by others. In the city’s defense, it takes an incredible amount of money and effort to transform a previously undesirable or crime-ridden public place into an area that can be used safely by everyone, which is what happened at Manatee Island Park.

But the Jimenezes claim they were never actually warned to leave the park, a position they will now have to defend in court. In either case, ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it, and in this case it appears as though the couple had the opportunity to coordinate with the city on feeding the homeless, but instead chose to do their own thing.

“There is a segment of the homeless population that is homeless by choice,” added Chitwood. “I don’t want to impugn them all. But some are homeless because they are sex offenders, substance abusers and bank robbers. That’s why we ask (good samaritans) to coordinate with our social service agencies, because they know who needs to be served.”

Sources for this article include:

http://www.nbcnews.com

http://www.theblaze.com

http://thinkprogress.org

2 thoughts on “Florida Couple Threatened With Jail Time For Feeding Homeless In Violation Of Local Ordinance

  1. As always, the headline hides the full story.

    Somewhere there is a compromise where everyone can be reasonably content, if not even happy.

    Let’s hope they find it.

  2. I agree with Squodgy. This can and will be worked out.
    FL has some big problems. Rising sea levels are now a daily concern for Miami.

    FL is the first state dealing daily with rising sea levels. Miami is now like Venice, where the water now goes over the sidewalks daily, and they need to do what Venice did, build walkways above the sidewalks. I don’t think it matters who or what is causing this, but rising sea levels are a reality all of the people living on or near the coast will have to deal with directly.

    NY is building their new mass transit above ground, Hurricane Sandy woke them up, and they are looking at realistic ways to contend with rising sea levels.
    The next problem will be how much water really comes, how high the sea levels will really reach.

    Here, in CA, it will soon be unlivable, and many folks will have to relocate. The radiation from Fukushima, New Mexico and Washington State is too much to contend with and live. Also, the heat level is growing higher every season……and for whatever reason (I don’t care why, I just know that it is) we suffer under unending miserable summer all year around. My A/C runs every damn day.

    What I find depressing, but not surprising, is the level of denial, especially in people who have multiple real estate holdings with high debt levels. How stupid can people get? The older I get, the more stupid people appear to grow.

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