Activists Arrested In Atlanta For Feeding Homeless Without A Permit Before Thanksgiving

By Aaron Kesel

The Sunday before Thanksgiving Atlanta police handed out tickets to activists feeding the homeless in a clear display of disregard for its hungry citizens simply because activists didn’t have a food distribution permit.

Atlanta, which is in Fulton County, has long had a policy requiring organizers of such efforts to obtain a permit.

Local authorities have in the past turned a blind eye to the ordinance, though, according to the activist groups including Food Not Bombs that feed the homeless. But last week that changed, of all times right before the American holiday where you are supposed to give thanks and share. Instead, those giving to others in need were arrested for not having a measly piece of paper that authorizes them to hold the food drives and pay the state to do so.

These permits are often costly and are an outrage in that they violently coerce groups into applying for charity toward fellow citizens so they don’t starve to death. But, alas, the state has always used and abused the color of law to be sure they get their cut of whatever they deem to be “illegal.” When it comes to food, however, it is a practice that is particularly inhumane and insane to punish people’s natural inclination to help those in need.

Two activists who were arrested, Adele Maclean and Marlon Kautz, spoke out on the matter to local CBS station WSB-TV in Atlanta.

“I mean, outrageous, right? Of all the things to be punished for, giving free food to people who are hungry?”  Maclean told CBS WSB-TV.

“It seems ridiculous to me that they would be spending their time and resources on stopping people from feeding the homeless,” Maclean added.

Georgia State Police also distributed a flyer, produced by Atlanta’s Department of Public Safety, about the enforcement of a county ordinance that requires permits for the “operation of a food service establishment.” According to the flyer, enforcement is necessary for sanitary reasons and because “many people become dependent on these activities, leading them to stay on the streets instead of seeking the help and support they truly need,” the Intercept reported.

Georgia citizens aren’t giving up according to Maclean; she noted that they will be holding meal serving outside of the courthouse in a blatant display of disobedience.

“There is gonna be a meal serving outside the courthouse on that same day. So I’m due in the court at 8 a.m. on the 14th, and we will be outside with a table with coffee and breakfast,” she told The Intercept.

This isn’t the first time that activists have been harassed for not paying the State to hold an event that helps their fellow citizenry. Earlier this year, activists affiliated with the same group Food Not Bombs were arrested in Tampa, Florida for the same heinous “crime” of not getting the state’s permission to feed the homeless in their own cities and counties.

It may surprise some of our readers, but it is actually illegal to feed the homeless without a permit or is altogether banned in many cities across the country.  In 2014 it was reported that 71 cities in the U.S. have passed or tried to pass ordinances that criminalize feeding the homeless, according to Michael Stoops, director of community organizing at the National Coalition for the Homeless.

According to the Associated Press in the year 2013, four out of every five adults in the United States will “struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives.” And, yet, it is become more generally frowned upon to offer food assistance. Ironically, the argument is often that recipients of such charity won’t seek the help they ultimately need.

Wouldn’t you want someone to offer their time, love and compassion to cook you a meal if you fall on hard times due to something completely beyond your control? Some day you might have to rely on such generosity. We can’t stop feeding the homeless simply because of a dictate from the State, nor should we stop exposing the lack of compassion that some police have while they serve and protect the State and not their own citizens.  The only option and hope is we the people, so be a human being and feed those in need instead of promoting the heartless idea that people need to starve because “it’s the law.”

This is a perfect example that many times the law isn’t ethically or morally justified. In such cases, it requires people to be defiant in the face of tyranny. Wasting resources to arrest nonviolent criminals for feeding homeless people should eventually catch enough wind in the public until people simply will not tolerate their tax dollars supporting such injustice. We should remember that without peaceful civil disobedience there wouldn’t be civil rights or women’s rights either.

Atlanta Indymedia caught the insane arrests as they happened in the video below uploaded to YouTube.

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Steemit, and BitChute. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.

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27 Comments on "Activists Arrested In Atlanta For Feeding Homeless Without A Permit Before Thanksgiving"

  1. if ever there was a glaring example on the domestic scene, of a Government that has gone way out of bounds, this is it. Actually, I am surprised that police find time to protect us from those feeding the hungry, with all those kids’ lemonade stands which need to be raided and shut down. There is no need to show even a semblance of respect for “our” Government at this point.

    • Wouldn’t it do more good to help these homeless apply for SNAP,for which they qualify so they had food on a daily basis, guaranteed? The government has a food program: why not help people use it?

      • if they’re homeless, they can’t usually cook food, so SNAP purchases they could actually consume on the street would be relatively lacking in nutrition over a prolonged period. But yeah, it could help, if they didn’t turn around and trade/sell their food benefits for drugs. But citizens preparing hot nutritious food should never be made illegal, as it also allows people to interact with the homeless and look for solutions for them. I was homeless years ago and speak from experience.

        • It is NOT illegal to prepare and distribute food,, but for safety reasons, it requires a permit

          “With SNAP you can buy food at:
          • Grocery stores
          • Soup kitchens
          • Homeless shelters that accept SNAP
          • Other stores that accept SNAP

          SNAP allows you to buy many types of healthy food at
          a grocery store than do not require special equipment
          to prepare and eat. You cannot be turned down just
          because you do not have a place to cook or store food.

          I too speak from experience You clearly do not speak from knowledge since you equate having a permit with being illegal, just as this article equates getting a ticket with being “arrested.”

          When people lie or distort the truth, it means they have a weak case.

          • I was homeless in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Certainly some things have changed. But even more recently, I lived in Las Vegas, hired homeless men, and was the cook for a large homeless outreach – so I definitely do know what I am talking about. The City of Las Vegas imposes $1,000 fines on those feeding the homeless, and there is no permitting process. Now I am speaking of individuals and small groups – the City did allow the multi-church/organisation effort of which I was a part, but only on Saturdays. They also passed insane oppressive laws against the homeless such as Interrupting The Flight Of A Pigeon and Defacing A Hamburger. I am not kidding, and these netted homeless 90 days in the clinker, just long enough to lose ane benefits they may have been receiving. It’s a big country and there isn’t total uniformity of laws and practises regarding the homeless yet, but in spurts and twists it’s getting worse by the year.

          • There is no law against feeding the homeless,and in fact there are numerous soup kitchens, a second harvest facility,and of course Snap.

            The prohibition is a park statute banning feeding in the parks. The idea is to get the homeless to use the soup kitchens, etc where they can additional services and be helped with the govt benefits to which they are entitled.
            The park statute
            “bans the “the providing of food or meals to the indigent for free or for a nominal fee.” It goes on to say that “an indigent person is a person whom a reasonable ordinary person would believe to be entitled to apply for or receive” public assistance.

            I find private charity insulting,whereas the public assistance is a right.

          • I find private charity insulting,whereas the public assistance is a right.

            Private charity is the only true charity; “public assistance” is just a polite term for stealing from the productive to give to the politically connected.

            As for your twisted conception of what is a “right”: the only true rights have to do with not being aggressed against. There is no right to use force to take from others something you think you need.

          • Private charity has failed: tens of millions worldwide die of malnutriton each year and in the US, tens of millions go to bed hungry..

            Private charity is an ego trip; government assistance is a right. by law, the needy have a right to SNAP, Medicaid, etc.

            The hungry do not “think” they need food; they need it, and the only stable and dignified way to provide it is to make food a human right. I don;t know what force you are talking about: these government programs were legislated democratically.

            The Seattle Times reported: “At the same time that poverty and hunger are rising, the U.S. House of Representatives in March passed a proposed budget that would, if ratified, cut food-stamp benefits by around 18 percent ($135 billion over 10 years), which would end assistance to millions of people. It would also change the way food stamps are distributed, resulting in fewer benefits for millions more Americans.

            Charity can fill in any holes that develop, say tea-party activists as well as Republican politicians like Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the budget’s author.

            But charity experts say that’s a mathematical impossibility.

            “There’s a myth of charity out there,” said Elizabeth Boris, director of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, which researches the impact of philanthropy. “Anyone who thinks that private charity will make up for lowered government budgets is whistling Dixie

            .”As it happens, 69 percent of Americans believe the federal government should have a major role in providing food to low-income families, according to a 2012 poll by Hart Research Associates, which measures attitudes toward the poor.

            Beyond that, a large percentage of nonprofit money that’s given to charity actually comes from the federal government, which is a huge contributor to charities such as Feeding America, said Boris, of the Urban Institute.”

            You sound like a libertarian who touts private charity while millions starve to death.

  2. The state should provide housing for all, and there is already a program to provide funds for food (SNAP). This article uses a fake headline to attract readers. Here are the facts:
    1. Feeding the homeless is not illegal;it is done at many facilities in Atlanta, but it does require a permit based on food safety. The cost of the permit is not high. To get a permit to SELL food costs $145 for a year, and that would be less than $3 a week.
    2. For a long time, the police handed out flyers reminding that a permit was needed and listing places the hungry could go for free food. No one paid attention.
    3.No one was arrested: the police handed out two tickets, or citations.
    4. “Fact: You can get SNAP benefits even if you live in a shelter with meals. You can’t be turned down only because you live in a homeless shelter with meals. Myth:You must have a place to cook and store food to get SNAP. Fact: You can’t be turned down for SNAP benefits because you don’t have a kitchen or a place to cook.”

    These food providers would do much more good if they helped the homeless to apply for SNAP, which would allow them to purchase food themselves. How dignified is it to hand out food at a parking lot and have hundreds of homeless sitting on the curb eating? Wouldn’t it serve the homeless much more to assist them in getting SNAP?

    And in addition, all of us should be denouncing the Republicans for cutting back on SNAP benefits,which amount to about $1.10 a meal currently. SNAP should provide enough to buy nutritious food for all who need it. The greatest charity is helping people get the benefits they deserve and working to expand them.

    • What do you propose for people ineligible for SNAP? Many homeless have drug convictions that make them ineligible.

      • I cited this in previous post but here it is again: “Fact: You can get SNAP benefits even if you live in a shelter with meals. You can’t be turned down only because you live in a homeless shelter with meals. Myth:You must have a place to cook and store food to get SNAP. Fact: You can’t be turned down for SNAP benefits because you don’t have a kitchen or a place to cook.”

        So don’t you agree SNAP is better than standing in line to get a meal, which is somewhat degrading?

        “Felons can generally receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, also known formerly as food stamps in most of the 50 states. A ban on SNAP assistance only applies to felons convicted of drug charges – a ban that has been maintained in only 6 states. The majority of states have either eliminated the ban or modified the restriction.”
        South Carolina
        West Virginia

        I advise the homeless to move to one of the other 44 states.

        Read more:”

        Here are the 6 states:

        Read more:

        “”If you do apply for SNAP, you don’t necessarily need a fixed address. Documents that are received through SNAP by mail include the electronic benefit card (EBT), eligibility interview appointment details or reapplication forms. Notify an eligibility worker at the local SNAP office if you do not have a permanent address.
        If you do not have a permanent address, you can choose one of various ways to receive the SNAP EBT card and similar documentation. SNAP may hold correspondence at the local office for pick-up or you can also provide the address of a trusted family member or friend. The office may also send correspondence to the local area post office as general delivery type mail.”

        Read more:

        Thank you for raising a good point; we should all lobby to repeal the bans in those 6 states.

        In the meantime in George, get a fucking permit!

    • I guess the state (my pocket) should also provide cars for all, too. Or better yet, invite them into YOUR home and leave me the h*ll alone.

      • Unlike cars food is necessary for survival. The richest nation in history has no excuse for not providing the basics to all citizens. In fact, I am employing a homeless person with a living wage and have let him stay in my home when I am not here. But that is not enough.

        If private charity were enough,, there would not be tens of millions dying from
        malnutrition. We should all work to force the government to expand services to the needy (instead of huge tax breaks to the wealthy) and impeach the fucking Republicans who recently voted to cut SNAP benefits.

  3. So now we are going to clog up the courts with people trying to be compassionate towards their fellow man by giving them something to eat? That’s a waste of my tax dollars.

    • No courts; no one was arrested; tickets were given to two individuals who can pay the fine (they were warned for a long time that they needed a permit) or clog up the courts protesting the city for having permits (as at restaurants ) for health and safety reasons.

      Fake outrage, based on lies, is an ego-trip. The homeless need help acquiring the government assistance, and the false outrage blocks the understanding needed to help the homeless find the help,in housing, in medical treatment, and in nutrition that is their right.

  4. Remember, Atlanta is run by liberals.

  5. Atlanta – homeless trash gravitate there. All of the brown/black sewage from Hurricane Katrina came to Atlanta and now crime is at an all-time high, there’s homeless monkeys everywhere, and the Mayor Reid (more sewage) does not care; he only cares about stuffing his fat-ass face with doughnuts. The crown jewel of the South is a now a deteriorating, declining shell of a city, just like Baltimore, Newark, Detroit, and St. Louis. I say level it, get Rudy Giuliani or someone like him to run the city to ship all of the homeless trash across the border to Mexico, and start over again.

  6. Can you give us the names of the other activist groups (other than Food Not Bombs) that were also there to feed the homeless. Can you also tell us HOW MUCH the permit for the “operation of a food service establishment” costs in the city where they were being arrested. Agreed that no one should have to pay for a piece of paper in order to be able to feed the homeless, but that IS the law right now. Action should be taken to change this, but while it is the law why are the activist groups not asking for donations to pay for the permit? IF indeed what is most important is that the homeless get fed, then please tell us will they accept donations to pay for the stupid permit? And I’m asking this because WHILE THEY ARE BEING ARRESTED THE HOMELESS ARE NOT BEING FED.

    • No one was arrested: that was a clickbait lie. Two individuals were issued tickets after a long period of police handing out flyers and trying to get the food providers to obey the safety laws, which require a permit (would you eat in a restaurant that did not have a permit or inspections?), and the cost in Atlanta to Sell food is $145, or less than $3 a week. The city of Atlanta has soup kitchens and other facilities and these people qualify for SNAP benefits.

      No one was arrested! That is a lie to rile you up.

      • If I was hungry enough and someone offered me some food, I don’t think I’m going to care if he has a permit or not. Try viewing it from the perspective of the person being fed.

        • Me too, but that is not the issue: the issue is that 1) the distributors need to get a permit and 2) there are better ways to provide steady nutrition, such as SNAP.

          I have been hungry: I would prefer the ability to purchase food rather than wait for someone to give it to me.

          • Of course. I think what people get frustrated about is the fact that you can’t even do a simple act of kindness anymore out of the goodness of your heart without jumping through hoops and getting hung up in red tape when all you are trying to do is live in the moment of the act. That doesn’t take away from the importance of longer term solutions as you have suggested but being spontaneous and doing something just because it feels good is becoming a criminal act and I fail to see how that can have a positive impact on society by preventing people from doing something from the heart towards a fellow human being. It is just human nature for most people. It leaves people in disbelief when they are charged for something when there are no victims, no complaints, and there intentions were pure.

  7. So a caring person showing some compassion is now an activist. Alrighty then. Better stop helping little old ladies across the street. Unless I get a permit first of course.

  8. Yes, giving from what you have to another is a Universal principle which cannot be denied. Al of the laws of the Universe are as sure as the law of gravity, it works for you and not against you. If we become paranoid because of bacteria, we are bacteria, without we would not exist, the fear of it causes the damage. Is there poison in the world, yes, but love is always greater then law. It is written, THE LAW KILLITH BUT THE SPIRIT GIVETH LIFE.

  9. Kudos! we have to go town by town like this on every issue.

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