Tampa activists Dezeray Lyn and Chris Mince are joining two South Florida food sharing activists on a hunger strike to protest a recent crackdown on feeding the hungry in Ft. Lauderdale.
“There’s nothing that would stop me from expressing my humanity for the people I’ve grown to live,”said Lyn.
The arrest of 90-year-old Arnold Abbott, a longtime social activist who feeds the homeless in Ft. Lauderdale, has sparked national attention and outrage among people who routinely organize food sharing in parks.
Tampa members of the group called Food Not Bombs say the newly-enacted ordinance in Ft .Lauderdale “places impossible restrictions on the sharing of food in public spaces, a measure which essentially shuts down humanitarian groups who have been sharing food in the open for years.”
Lyn says one of her fellow activists in South Florida has now gone without food for 22 days and another hasn’t eaten anything in 11 days to protest the food sharing crackdown.
The Tampa group that feeds the hungry twice a week in Gaslight Park in Downtown Tampa went through its own legal struggle in Tampa a decade ago.
Local activist Jimmy Dunson says he was arrested during that controversy in 2004 and in his view the one now erupting in Ft. Lauderdale amounts to pretty much the same thing.
“The city is saying they’re doing it [crackdown] for health reasons when really they just want to hide the homeless population,” Dunson said.
Lyn says Tampa police don’t enforce the ordinance as long as there are no more than 50 people showing op for her group’s feedings at 8am on Tuesdays and 11am on Sundays.
Lyn fears that Tampa might resume its own get tough policy now that Ft.Lauderdale has set an example, but it doesn’t sound like the city is ready to change its current hands-off policy.
“We’re not arresting them,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “We certainly try to discourage them.”
Buckhorn says the recent events in Ft. Lauderdale haven’t worked out well for that city, no matter how well-intended.
“Anytime you’re picking on a 90-year old guy, it’s not going to end well for you,” said Buckhorn.
*Also see http://youtu.be/QSiw9UKvu4M
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