News that people feeding the homeless in Raleigh, North Carolina were not arrested has caused an uproar with the progressive elites at the Think Progress blog. Repeat: nobody was arrested for feeding the homeless. However, the mere threat of arrest was enough to send the Center for American Progress’s activism site into a tizzy. Meanwhile, the problem that none of the progressive do-gooders want to acknowledge is that when you bring out free food for homeless people at a park on a consistent basis, the result is that it turns that park into a disgusting, dangerous public space that’s uninhabitable for taxpaying citizens and their families.
Think Progress filled in the latte liberals across the country on this latest injustice in their blog post North Carolina Charity Threatened With Arrest For Feeding Homeless People:
This past Saturday, Rev. Hugh Hollowell and other members of Love Wins Ministries (LWM), a Christian organization based in Raleigh, shuttled over hot coffee and 100 breakfast sandwiches to feed the needy downtown. Though a Raleigh city ordinance prevents anyone from distributing food in a park without a permit, LWM had a “good working relationship with the Raleigh Police Department” and had disbursed food from the sidewalk for the past six years, according to the group’s website.
Raleigh’s Mayor Nancy McFarlane–an independent who ran with the endorsement of the Democrat party–sprung into action but not for the productive citizens of Raleigh to reclaim the park. Instead she apologized for the possibility that the police might have thought about enforcing the law. As Think Progress says:
During a rally on Sunday in protest, Mayor Nancy McFarlane showed up and apologized for the encounter, saying, “I’m sorry for the confrontation or whatever happened yesterday, but I think the outcome is going to be good.”
After Think Progress picked up on the story, the liberal concern machine sprung into action nationwide and on Wednesday the 28th, an emergency meeting was held to deal with the pressing problem of nobody being arrested for feeding homeless people. Love Wins Ministries dubbed that scandal as #biscuitgate. Love Wins says:
Today the Law and Public Safety Committee of Raleigh’s City Council listened to countless citizens explain why the current ordinance is not sustainable. The Committee did not object to a city manager’s recommendation to place a moratorium on the enforcement of the ordinance in question.
While this decision is not ideal for the long term, we do look forward to collaborating with Mayor McFarlane and the City Council to craft a sustainable solution that benefits all of Raleigh’s citizens.
It’s not clear, however, that all of Raleigh’s citizens are actually the concern of Think Progress and Love Wins Ministries.
There’s nothing wrong with charity, of course. The problem that the liberals like Think Progress refuse to even acknowledge, however, is the impact that using a public space to feed homeless people has on the rest of the community. It’s an issue facing cities across the country, where short sighted ‘social justice’ policies have created blight and danger.
The group Love Wins Ministries has, in fact, been proving free food for the homeless at Moore Park for six years. That means there’s a small group of people–many of whom have substance abuse issues–who have been taking advantage of free food given out in a public park for years.
The consequences aren’t hard to imagine but thanks to sites like TripAdvisor.com, we don’t need to guess how using Moore Park as a public soup-kitchen has worked out in practice; review after review of the place tell the grim story.
The problem is summed up by a TripAdvisor review titled “Avoid on weekends” from January of last year.
Rescue mission or church or something feeds the homeless, it gets pretty bad. Many of the homeless could use the help, some can be confrontational and a bit entitled…
Another review is titled “it’s sort of sad…” and includes:
I get that the homeless are there because of the bus station and soup kitchens…and I certainly don’t know where else they can go. What I do know is that I absolutely will not walk through there alone…
Moore Park isn’t even safe for dogs. Another unintended consequence of feeing the homeless in a public park is pointed out in the post “Do not take your dog here, homeless discard food waste everywhere!”, which says:
This is a feeding ground for the homeless by the churches and people who do not live in the area. One of the favorites is chicken and the homeless just toss their bones everywhere causing a choking hazard for dogs.
More blunt is the review “Run Off The Bums And This Would Be A Fine Place”
Moore Square, one of Raleigh’s original squares, could be a lovely area. Instead, our spineless city government (this means you, former Mayor Charles Meeker) handed it over to the local bum population…
Another review is titled “depressing open space”and says in part:
this sad area is a place where homeless sleep on the park benches. there is nothing remotely attractive about this place. i hate how there is so much money dumped into revamping Raleigh’s downtown…
If the charity’s primary goal was merely feeding the hungry, they could certainly find other places to do it. The liberal altruists could even bring the homeless into their own homes every morning to feast on homemade cruelty-free biscuits, vegan sausage substitute and sip on a piping hot NPR pledge-drive mug of fair trade coffee. For some strange reason, however, this hasn’t become their delivery mechanism of choice; perhaps the charitable also own dogs and don’t wish to see them choke.
As Love Wins Ministries explains on their website, however, the goal isn’t as much about feeding the hungry as it is to prove a point:
We appreciate all the ways you have written in to suggest that we could subvert the system, but to do that only admits to the City of Raleigh that its argument is legitimate. We maintain that we have done nothing wrong.
It’s not about the food. It’s about being correct.
One final note of irony for anyone who follows the institutional left: the most prominent work of art at Moore Park is a giant acorn.