A grassroots organization says it won't stop feeding the homeless downtown after being warned by the city of Houston to stop. The group called, Food Not Bombs gathered on Monday night to feed a long line of homeless people despite a number of warnings signs physically put out by the city in front of Houston Public Library, just around the corner from city hall.
Shere Dore is with the Food Not Bombs organization and says the group has been handing out food downtown for nearly two decades, but the latest warning from the city feels more like a threat than a warning.
"The mayor is the one who heads the police department so whatever he says goes and what concerns me most as on this sign, in comparison to all the other signs in the past, this sign says ‘if we continue to share food out here, we are in violation of the law’; this is why we are taking things a little bit more serious.”
The group also claims this goes against their constitutionals right and says this isn't the first time the city has tried to shut them down. Dore explained how back in 2012, Mayor Anise Parker and city council passed an anti-food sharing ordinance that bans serving charitable meals on properties, public or private, without consent from the Mayor's office.
The group gathers for a food sharing at least four times a week, except on Thursdays and Dore says they aren't going to stop.
"We are going to continue to serve. This is a tax funded property. We’ve been doing this forever, and there is not a reason for us to move for the sake of the mayor out of downtown and because of the Final Four that’s coming next month.”
The city of Houston released a statement on the charitable public feeding rules and regulations. In the statement, they said:
"Once again, the City is providing a dedicated location with the appropriate, needed space, and infrastructure/amenities to serve Houstonians with the dignity they deserve. These updated Rules and Regulations do not apply to charitable food service on private property. Charitable food service on public property must be done at 61 Riesner Street, Houston, Texas 77002. It is illegal to provide charitable food service events in a public place in Houston without permission from the City and after February 24, 2023, citations will be issued."
"The pressure is going to come down,” Dore said. “We don't know if the cops are going to come out here. But if they do, like I said all groups that come out here to serve six nights a week are prepared for tickets or to even get arrested if that's what it comes down to."