The Houston, Texas, chapter of the charity Food Not Bombs says the organization has been harassed by police and the city’s mayor, receiving 44 tickets in the past few months for feeding the homeless.
The charity’s TikTok channel (@foodnotbombshtx) contains multiple videos of the group speaking with police outside Houston’s public library. Food Not Bombs, which says it has been “serving Houston since 1994,” likes to set up a pavilion and hand out food on a paved space at the corner of the library’s grounds — a practice the group says it has been keeping up for “over a decade.”
@foodnotbombshtx #food #protest #community #action #police #metal #alt #fypシ #punk #fyp #fy #ftp #1312 #acab ♬ original sound – Food Not Bombs Houston
Despite the supposedly “public” space and the longstanding tradition of serving food there, the tickets being handed out say that the group members “conduct a food service event … without consent of property owner.”
There’s no chance that police officers might be mistaken about the nature of the event, either; the tickets even say “feed homeless” in parentheses.
“Since March 1 of this year, our mayor has criminalized what we do for the community, and we are doing everything we can to fight it,” says the description of the earliest video.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, about 582,000 people were homeless in the U.S. in 2022. Because they have no access to permanent shelter, unhoused people are most at risk during the extreme weather caused by the world’s rising temperature.
However, the issue of homelessness has become a political one, with some areas passing anti-homeless laws that criminalize camping, sleeping in public places, begging — and handing out food to those most in need of it, as Food Not Bombs has been doing.
A bitter Reddit user shared the story of the charity’s many tickets in July. “Charity should be banned, [obviously],” they said sarcastically.
“This is just heartbreaking,” said another user. “Food shouldn’t have to be a privilege.”
Thankfully, Food Not Bombs says it’s fighting back. Member Phillip Picone announced the charity’s first court victory in a video on July 30. “We’ve got 44 of these tickets, and today we won case number one,” he said. “We’re looking to go forward, and we’re looking to not be harassed, not be threatened with tickets, and not be arrested for having compassion and for fighting poverty.”
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