Frequently Asked Questions About The Moore Square Incident

"They will arrest me if I give you a biscuit."

“They will arrest me if I give you a biscuit.”

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

District A

Randall Stagner - Randall.Stagner@raleighnc.gov - (919)996-3050

District B

John Odom - John.Odom@raleighnc.gov - (919)996-3050

District C          

Eugene Weeks - Eugene.Weeks@raleighnc.gov - (919)996-3050

District D      

Thomas Crowder - Thomas.Crowder@raleighnc.gov - (919)996-3050

District E      

Bonner Gaylord - Bonner.Gaylord@raleighnc.gov - 919)996-3050

Mayor        

Nancy McFarlane -  Nancy.McFarlane@raleighnc.gov - (919)996-3050

Who else should we contact?

  1. 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.

  1. If you have contacts with people of influence (media, celebrities, etc.), please contact Sarah McCoy at mccoy.sarah@lovewins.info.

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.

You can learn more about Love Wins by signing up for our newsletter.

About Sara Acosta

Sara Acosta is the director of communications at Love Wins. Sara served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for two years before becoming Love Wins' second employee. As a Massachusetts native she will never adjust to North Carolina's summer heat but she does enjoy some good eastern style barbecue.
This entry was posted in Biscuitgate, Blog and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Frequently Asked Questions About The Moore Square Incident

  1. Edna says:

    I will continue to keep this issue in front of my Facebook friends and our church’s homeless ministry. Keep fighting for what you and I know is the right thing to do! Just know that you are all in our prayers!

  2. Feeding the hungry is hard enough. Getting food to give away was done, but the place to do so was take away. Would it help if you got a Food Truck? Food Trucks have become popular and might be a business. The business model would be then going where they could both sell and give away food because providing food for the hungry is necessary and costs money.
    Weekend use of the park to give people food didn’t disturb the peace before the recent administration got into power.
    They want to hurt young children and hungry poor so being nice to them seems sadly fearful.

  3. Joel Rieves says:

    Russsell, a food truck isn’t really feasible for us for two reasons. 1) A city ordininance that requires them to operate on private property. Of course, if we could find public property, we wouldn’t need a food truck. 2) We are small non-profit that doesn’t exactly have an overabundance of funds (a multi-hundred dollar organization, as Hugh likes to say), so a food truck is just a little out of our reach.

  4. Marvin says:

    You don’t seem to have social sharing turned on here – would love to be able to share directly to G+ for instance from here! :)

    Keep up the GR8 work! We’re praying & supporting your work from here in Savannah!

    You’re an excellent role model for our faith community here who are in the throws of feeding curtailment issues here too – we have had 911 called on us but they didn’t tell us to stop or threaten jail, they simply escalated the dialog on the food safety & permitting issues we had been skirting around for MANY years!

  5. John Martin says:

    Great job with these FAQs, Sara!

  6. Rhonda says:

    I hope you go ahead and do the story with the news that got in touch with you. They are all seemingly on the right side, and hopefully can help too. I contacted my brother who is in the red cross with hopes that he can come up with some idea’s also..I don’t live in Raliegh but this story greatly affected me, and I shared with everyone and had them call council members too! Keep up the good work because everyone deserves to eat! Thank you for all you do..

  7. John Brier says:

    There is a typo in the word “incident” it’s spelled “indicent” oops!

    as others have said, Keep up the good work. I’m sharing this with friends.

  8. Mona Garrett says:

    Unity of Triangle that rents the Longview Center across from Moore Square is looking at possible use of outside areas. Staff was contacted by Debbie. Logistics are needing to be worked out to see if it’s a good fit.

  9. Robert R. Fields says:

    If you read Sec. 9 – 2022 (a) Required; scope: You only have to secure a “permit”, if more than [ 100 people attend ]. Split it up to feeding like say 100 every 2hrs.- use the in between hr. to clean up any trash that would be present.

  10. Judy Johnson says:

    I actually located the ordinance yesterday, but have not been able to find it again. As soon as I do, I will post the citation. We need to lobby for change in the ordinance.

  11. Judy Johnson says:

    Here’s the ordinance that requires changing:
    “Sec. 9-2022. – PERMIT REQUIRED FOR CERTAIN USES OF PARKS.
    (b)
    Distribution of food prohibited.
    No individuals or group shall serve or distribute meals or food of any kind in or on any City park or greenway unless such distribution is pursuant to a permit issued by the Parks, Recreation and Greenway Director.

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  13. Great job, Sara. Very articulate, concise and thoughtful answers.

  14. Craig Taylor says:

    I’m disappointed by “Love Wins”. They were told they were breaking a city ordinance then provided an inaccurate account of the real story. Why? Probably because they were told “no” by the big, bad police. The police department is simply trying to keep Moore Square from being overrun with litter so the citizens can enjoy it. The officers gave out a copy of the ordinance to any group that came to feed. “Love Wins” is still claiming they don’t know what ordinance they broke.

    Most responsible organizations would comply with the police and begin to explore appropriate options to feed the homeless. The Salvation Army and numerous soup kitchens do this on a daily basis and do it within the rules. They provide a safe location for the citizens to eat, provide a restroom, and provide clean up afterwards.

    “Love Wins” should concentrate on truly working to help the homeless instead of spreading misinformation and hatred towards a great city and police department.

  15. Terry Allen says:

    “We seeking only to feed and love vulnerable people.” Then why are you dropping biscuits off at Moore Sq on the Weekends? Why not provide education and housing and clothing and try to break the cycle of homelessness? Why not feed them Mon-Fri? Why not invite them to your location instead of leaving trash all across Moore Square? Your inaccurate information and the comments on your blog bashing RPD are disappointing. “Love Wins”. Love the city and work with them. Encourage love for the officers involved.

  16. Gordon Loop says:

    Hi,
    I did open air preaching for 12 yrs in Boston, MD and a little in Raleigh, NC, and each time I was stopped by an officer I was always respectful, and obeyed what they were telling me. The only time I question their judgment was when I did not understand what I was doing wrong. I would ask them what law or ordinance I was breaking. If they said to me that it was their way or the highway. I would ask for their superior to support their decision against what we were doing. Most of the time they would call their superior and only a few times they would keep threatening to arrest me. In order to arrest me he has to call it in, and then it gets a lot of attention from other officers, including their superior. This threat of arrest is often just that, a threat, and is not normally carried out. Go back and feed the homeless, take a stand. God will provide another pastor while you are away.

  17. Carol Doner says:

    I will keep this on my FB as well as in prayer. I coordinate a breakfast every Sunday at church for the homeless and less fortunate. Recent months the Lord has had me go downtown New Britain to the Green and pass out waters and some goodies. It would break my heart if I had to stop doing this. My heart is with you. Keeping you lifted in Prayer.

  18. So sorry to hear about this situation. Your approach and attitude are commendable. I will be speaking with our Director of Social Services for ideas.. We will remember you and all who serve the poor in our Masses this weekend. We will also pray for those in authority.
    god be with you and those are waiting for food.
    Fr. Ray

  19. Forrest Chambless says:

    I agree with Gordon Loop. I think you get to go back and just feed the people. Whatever officer that was doing this, I suspect he may have been doing it out of some personal agenda and not as part of any official position. If you had peacefully continued, and forced him to call it in, he would have had to back down. I personally, am willing to be the first one arrested for handing food to a homeless person on your behalf. I participated in a similar program (and directed it for three) in Washington DC for over seven years called “the Grate Patrol”, based out of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on K Street NW. We went around the Steam Grates from the State Department to the La Fayette Park in front of the White House to the Washington Monument every Saturday and Sunday morning. One time, right after the start of POTUS 41 G.H.W Bush’s Gulf War, we had to come to a little understanding with the Park Police about parking in front of the White House, but it was all good, we got an fair agreement reached (we parked on a side street instead of Penn. Ave), and our feeding program continued as normal.

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  21. In a summer when getting arrested for the cause in downtown Raleigh became the trendy thing to do, way to keep your wits and play things smart. Keep caring for the people.

  22. Pingback: Feeding Homeless Apparently Illegal in Raleigh, NC — Love Wins Ministries

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  25. gail says:

    I am so sorry that this happen,and I did write the paper about it.
    I stated that Fayettville St. sidewalks are blocked with tables,sometimes you have to walk in the St,because of the table,near the old Hardware store,and there is trash left there,so is it okay on main St,because they are at a table,and pay for the meal ?But its not okay to feed people that are down,and out,and need a helping hand ???

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