Are you willing to be arrested in order to feed the homeless? Why or why not? Why did you not allow yourself to get arrested yesterday?
There are a number of reasons we chose to not be arrested on Saturday.
A. Sharing food in the park is a very small (but important) portion of our work. We see over 350 folks at our offices each week. We have a worshipping community of 30 – 40 people each Sunday, and a number of people in the hospital and in jail, all of whom need a pastor. If their pastor was in jail, that helps none of them.
B. The principles of Nonviolent Social Change, as laid out by Dr. King, are as follows:
Step 1: Gather Information
Learn all you can about the problems you see in your community through the media, social and civil organizations, and by talking to the people involved. Also, learn the perspective of the people who disagree with you.
Step 2: Educate Others
Armed with your new knowledge, help those around you, such as your neighbors, relatives, friends, and coworkers, to better understand the problem you are addressing. Build a team of people devoted to finding solutions, define your goals, and develop a plan of action together.
Step 3: Remain Committed
You will face many obstacles and challenges as you and your colleagues try to create change. Continue to encourage and inspire one another along the journey.
Step 4: Negotiate
Talk with both sides. Go to the people who are in trouble or are hurt by the problem you are trying to solve. Also, go to those people who are contributing to the problem. Use intelligence and humor as you present your plan and find common ground to benefit the greater good.
Step 5: Take Direct Action
This step is often used when negotiation fails to produce results, or when people need to draw broader attention to a problem. It can include many kinds of tactics including peaceful demonstrations, letter-writing, boycotts, petitions, or rent strikes.
Step 6: Reconcile
Agree to disagree with some people’s actions or some groups’ policies. Show all involved the benefits of changing, not what they will give up by changing. Keep all actions and negotiations peaceful and constructive.
We are currently engaged in a combination of numbers four and five. Arrest is one form of Direct Action, but so are letter writing campaigns and phone campaigns, which we are currently engaged in and are working for the time being.
We are not ruling out such an action in the future, but if we do, it will be planned for maximum impact and not just a random action.
Have we asked the downtown churches near Moore Square about the possibility of using their facilities?
We have good relationships with some of the downtown churches near Moore Square. We are currently reaching out to them. We will need a few days to process internally as an organization, assess our options, and then proceed and reach out to our neighbors for help. Please keep in mind that we have very little staff or budget, and we are still ministering to our regular people like we do every day, as well as dealing with the international attention.
Have we approached agencies, such as the Salvation Army or the soup kitchen, about using their spaces?
That is one option, for sure, and we are investigating it. It is worth noting that the City now owns the Salvation Army building, and the Parks and Recreation Department sent an email to some organizations on Thursday saying that people are no longer allowed to feed at that location.
Have we contacted the local news stations?
Several news outlets have reached out to us. The N&O, WRAL, ABC-11, and NBC-17, as well as NPR and Al Jazeera have spoken with our community and with Hugh about what happened on Saturday morning. But it is worth noting that they contacted us. We are not seeking attention. We seeking only to feed and love vulnerable people.
Have we started a petition?
Love Wins has not started a petition. But if you started or shared one, that would be cool.
What City of Raleigh ordinance did you break?
The officer who stopped us from sharing breakfast didn’t cite any ordinance or law. We would also like an answer to this question so that we can move forward in working with the City of Raleigh.
What can we do to help?
Below are the email addresses and phone numbers of the Mayor and of the City Council members. While there has been some movement on the part of the City (such as agreeing to not arrest us if we feed hungry people) we encourage you to email them and remind them the world is watching their actions. This is a chance for Raleigh to really step up and be as hospitable a city for its most vulnerable citizens as it is for its wealthiest.
As you call and email, please keep in mind that we win over no one with anger or rudeness. Anger does not cast out fear – only love can do that.
* Out of town folks, call any and all of the City Council members.
* Raleigh residents, call the City Council member representing your district. You can find your district by entering your address here.
City Council At Large
Mary-Ann Baldwin – Mary-Ann.Baldwin@raleighnc.gov – (919)996-3050
City Council At Large/Mayor Pro Tem
Russ Stephenson – Russ.Stephenson@raleighnc.gov – (919)996-3050
Randall Stagner – Randall.Stagner@raleighnc.gov – (919)996-3050
John Odom – John.Odom@raleighnc.gov – (919)996-3050
Eugene Weeks – Eugene.Weeks@raleighnc.gov – (919)996-3050
Thomas Crowder – Thomas.Crowder@raleighnc.gov – (919)996-3050
Bonner Gaylord – Bonner.Gaylord@raleighnc.gov – 919)996-3050
Nancy McFarlane – Nancy.McFarlane@raleighnc.gov – (919)996-3050
Who else should we contact?
Post the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or any other social media outlets you have access to. We have done nothing wrong, and have no desire to hide. In addition, stay up to date. The most current information will be on our Facebook page, which you can “like” to receive those updates automatically.
If you have contacts with people of influence (media, celebrities, etc.), please contact Sarah McCoy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should we continue to contact the City Council even though there is a positive and open line of communication?
Yes. While the City Council is well aware of how our supporters feel, if calls and emails end now, it sends a message that the incident at the park, and the resulting social media firestorm, was a meaningless flash in the pan. We need to continually voice our concern.
Have you contacted an attorney/any attorneys? If so, what have they said on this matter? Can anything be done legally?
Love Wins is fortunate to have several friends who are lawyers, and we have had many pro bono offers from supporters. Our sincere hope, however, is that we will reach a resolution and understanding without needing to take anyone up on their offer. But we have not thrown anyone’s number away, either.
Is this due to littering? What can you do about keeping Moore Square Park clean?
That has been said, but Love Wins is always careful to make certain that we pick up after ourselves. We can safely say that regarding our presence at the park, littering is not the issue. However, there are multiple bars that keep late night hours nearby, and we cannot speak for what their patrons might do.
Why has this not been an issue for the past six years?
We wish we had a clear answer for you. Until we receive a clear, concise, and logical answer, we are simply going to have to chalk it up to what it appears to be: hobophobia.
Have you had problems with Raleigh police officers before?
Hardly. Every other officer we’ve met has been courteous, interested in our work, and helpful. We have shared coffee with officers patrolling the Moore Square area. We are very clear that the officers who evicted us from the park were following orders. They are not villains and we will not villainize them or the entire Raleigh Police Department. We know many excellent officers who represent the Department very well, and the City is a better place because of them.
Is this a religious issue?
No, this is not primarily a religious issue. This is a humanity issue. A number of organizations prevented from feeding people have no religious ties. The City of Raleigh has an obligation to take care of its most vulnerable citizens. If it is unwilling to do so, we wish they would not prevent us from doing so.
Have you considered feeding people with a food truck?
As cool as food trucks are, we just couldn’t pull it off. Raleigh’s food truck ordinances would complicate a route, not to mention the heavy financial burden that would be impossible for us to bear. Most importantly, our ultimate goal is to be able to freely feed our friends on the sidewalk outside of the park. Nothing more, nothing less.
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