This past Saturday, a group of volunteers from Love Wins Ministries – a Christian ministry dedicated to helping the homeless in Raleigh, North Carolina – gathered at Moore Square, a downtown park, to hand out free biscuits and coffee. They were grateful for the opportunity to share the love of Christ. They were also grateful they didn’t get arrested for it.
Without the requisite permit, anyone caught feeding the homeless in a public park in Raleigh is subject to criminal arrest for violating city ordinance.
Because a permit would cost an astounding $1,600 per weekend, Love Wins has historically avoided the park itself and set up station on a sidewalk adjoining Moore Square to distribute food. This strategy worked for six years. Almost every Saturday and Sunday, Love Wins supplied hot breakfast to thankful individuals on that sidewalk.
And they were undoubtedly meeting a need. The soup kitchens in the city and county are not open on weekends, leaving Love Wins and other compassionate Christians to fill the gap for the homeless. But the gig was up on Saturday before last, when Raleigh police officers awaited the arrival of volunteers and threatened them with arrest – for passing out food.
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