What’s up with the big, proverbial “DO NOT FEED THE HOMELESS” sign in Moore Square? Ever since LoveWins Ministries posted their viral blog about their run-in with the police in Moore Square, concerned do-gooders all over Raleigh have flooded Facebook and City Council email accounts with angry responses and demands for answers.
First of all, I want to say I’m proud of the big-hearted response from our locals. It’s always a fantastic relief to see compassion itself shouting to for recognition.
I truly hope this little scandal will encourage more people to get involved with homeless efforts in Raleigh, including donating and volunteering to non-profits that assist homeless people every day, not just with food, but with job training, free medical care and rehabilitation, and transitional housing.
Secondly, I want to say: CALM DOWN!
We don’t know the whole story yet. We have a Mayor who is passionate about social issues and improving our city, and has actively encouraged citizens to make a difference and volunteer in the Activate Raleigh Day of Service. Her public Facebook group promotes other local non-profit initiatives, such as City Farm. Before an official statement even came out, I was sure that somewhere a misunderstanding had occurred. So here’s me, getting the word out about Mayor Nancy McFarlane and City Council’s Bonner Gaylord‘s immediate responses to this stirring event.
Bonner Gaylord’s status update this morning:
- It has come to my attention that a group of good hearted individuals were turned away by Raleigh Police while feeding homeless this weekend. Something that has been a weekly tradition of their church for years now. I am going to speak with the Raleigh Police Department about this and find out what happened. It’s important for us to maintain a clean and safe environment in our city, especially in our parks. However, we cannot let those who are in the most need go without help. Thank you.
The government’s not always evil. Especially in local government, I tend to trust that the people in charge really do care about our city.
Maybe I’ve watched a little too much Parks and Recreation, but I idealistically expect a bunch of Leslie Knopes in our City Council, passionately fighting to improve our city.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane Responds:
Mayor Nancy McFarlane furthered my faith in local government with her response, which is shared by Bob Geary, a columnist at IndyWeek. He writes:
- The mayor wants us to know that feeding homeless people is something the city should be assisting, not preventing.
- Councilor Baldwin chairs the Law & Public Safety Committee, and she’s working to get the issue put before her committee. That’s a good step. I suggested to her that Council somehow prevail on the police to take a step back and allow the churches to operate as before until Council can shape a new plan that gets food to the people who need it in the best way possible.
Food is flowing again at Moore Square. Today local non-profits Love Wins Ministries, Food Not Bombs, and Human Beans Together setup in a parking lot across from Moore Square and again were serving up food to the hungry. Additionally, Mayor McFarlane and Council member Russ Stephenson were on hand to convey a simple message: the city will be looking for ways to help get food to the people who need it, not for ways to prevent it.
They reiterated that they had no warning or prior notification that the police and city administration were planning this stringent enforcement of regulations regarding feeding the homeless. The city council will be taking this subject up in this weeks council meetings. Stay tuned!