Several members of “Food Not Bombs” set up a table in Lykes Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa.
When police officers got wind of the serving, they moved in, ready to arrest group members for failing to obtain a permit for the event.
An officer and several people went back-and-forth, arguing different points, for more than 20 minutes.
Eventually, around a dozen officers were on hand, ready handcuff people who refused to leave. They didn’t.
Seven people were arrested on Saturday for serving food in the park. Group members claim it was done to clean up the image of Tampa while hundreds-of-thousands of people were in town for the College Football National Championship Playoff game.
“The city chose to enforce an ordinance that was very obviously aimed at the sight of the suffering of the community from the Playoff Playlist-goers and the tourists here,” member Desiree Lynn said.
An officer on scene told those present that they must pay for a permit to serve food in a public park and can’t use a table. If they wanted to simply hand out food, that would be allowed, the officer said.
“I’m willing to go to jail over a cup of coffee,” said resident Glenn Edwards. “Put bracelets on me. I’m not scared.”
The group continued to serve food Tuesday morning, then packed up and left.
Members said they’ll be back in the park to serve food to the homeless Saturday at 4 p.m.