In this multi cultural melting pot we call the United States of America echoes can be heard with resounding resignation calling for freedom, liberty, justice, and patriotism to America and the proclaimed majesty of “Old Glory” (our national flag). The historians have taught us that minute men rallied together, side by side, and in solidarity to win our independence from British rule. In that victory was forged a tradition which welcomed immigrants from all over the world to settle on our shores, and make America the land of the free and the home of the brave. It’s and ideology that many loyal red-blooded Americans revere, but freedom has come at a price to many brave Americans who have lost their lives in defense of so-called democracy. Centuries later, America continues to rely upon the bravery and patriotism of her citizens who travel across oceans to fight wars at the behest of our government. Consequently, many U.S. veterans return to the shores of our country battered, disabled, sick from PTSD, and without the proper support of our government whom they have fought for. As the streets throughout American cities continue to grow with disenfranchised American Veterans, who seemingly have been cast out by a society ungrateful for their service to this country, their poverty, homelessness, and psychological illness is a slap in a face to the loyalty, love of country, and faith in God promoted by American leaders over the years. The government’s failure to adequately support her fallen and struggling veterans has sparked grassroots efforts from churches, local civic groups, and other non-profit organizations to simply return a sense of dignity and humanity to the poor, homeless, and our beleaguered fellow countrymen who also just happen to be, in many instances, veterans who have defended America in many of her foreign wars. So when shelters, soup kitchens, and other homeless advocacy groups like “Love Wins Ministries” set up camp in the heart of the business districts within many American cities such as Raleigh, North Carolina, its not only a blessing, but an appropriate course of action when our government fails to honor its part in helping to insure the “pursuit of Liberty” for all of her citizens. Unfortunately, many communities in our nation are just as responsible for the lack of aid, support, and leadership when the plight of homeless Americans comes knocking. LWM in concert with several local church groups in the Raleigh area has consistently extended its support through no expense of taxpayers, to help lessen life burdens of homeless people within their community for more than 6 years. However, today all of that changed when LWM organizers and advocates were threatened with arrest when they attempted to hand out breakfast (biscuits and coffee) to nearly a hundred people whom had gathered that morning for something to eat. There had never been an issue with the group’s efforts to feed poor Americans in the past, and police have often stopped by for coffee and breakfast as well. When organizers pleaded to simply feed people, they were told if they handed out food they would in fact “go to jail”. Organizers literally struggled to address American people whom had come for food and shamefully had to convey that the City Government of Raleigh, through its police prohibited them from displaying their usual merciful act of kindness, any they could no longer feed people. Baffled by the city’ seemingly impromptu injunction prohibiting distribution of food to homeless people, organizers failed to comprehend why such civic and Christian like practices had suddenly become a violation of Raleigh City Law. There was discussion regarding the fact that such activities in the park where the charitable efforts had previously taken place for years, was in fact inconsistent with the towns permit ordinance (assemblies of this nature usually require a city permit which cost $800 dollars per event), but the city had turned it’s head for years while LWM and other civic organizations engaged in charity for the poor, homeless, and suffering people within their community. Now it seems that if feeding poor people will continue at the traditional location it has in the past, it would cost LWM $1,600 dollars to hand out food to poor people on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The newly enacted policy of Raleigh City Law has left charity organizers scrambling for a new location to continue their work of giving to those in need. I’m sure that some organization, property owner, or a kind person will extend an act of benevolence to the church, and authorize such charitable acts of kindness to continue on private property that will shield organizers from police harassment. Yet, we are left with bitterness and anger over what appears to be nothing short of cruel, unjustified, and an obvious abuse of authority by city officials who have literally failed the most impoverished within their constituency. There simply is no rationalization that city officials can offer to explain why charity in the form of food for poor people is no longer legal for civic groups like LWM to offer its citizens in need, and even if for some unseen provocation the city’ actions are justified, the manner in which their enforcement of a newly adopted policy was carried out lacks decency , tack, and diplomacy. People following this story argue that town officials could have contacted church organizers well in advance before shutting them down entirely, and served noticed that their efforts would no longer be permitted at their traditional location. Perhaps an even better approach could have been adopted, while avoiding the appearance of officials being looked upon as careless tyrants, and shutting down their charity campaign without warning after having permitted such community service for so long. Many say the city could have partnered with the church in an effort to find more suitable facilities for the church to give back to the community. It seems that the brash and careless manner the city went about the entire matter was to send a message that there is opposition toward feeding homeless people in Raleigh, even if the source of such kindness derived from local churches. Organizers hinted that they were aware that the current site was only temporary while explaining that Raleigh had plans for property development in the area, but the church said they believed they had more time before such an acquisition would actually transpire. Even if the sudden change in town policy on the issue of homelessness has sparked over the required $800 dollar permit fee for events in the city, it’s unconscionable to think that officials would hinder aid to the poor over such a small monetary figure, considering the significance of how charity efforts by LWM has impacted struggling people within the community. We have encountered sickening human interest stories like this before in America, where the powers that be who are charged with representing the interest of the people, have used that exact sacred trust to suffocate the spirit of human dignity impacting those mostly in need of a helping hand during such hard economic times in this country. Such deplorable actions are not only unjust, but it’s ungodly, and similar to the city having exporated sputum directly into the face of town clergy and it’s congregation who apparently are resolved to aid the poor in Raleigh. However, just like Christ, organizers plead for the community not to foster anger and hatred for the actions of city leaders, and have simply began to look for other venue to continue their work. LWM says they will continue to pray for God’s guidance, and even pray for those who have stopped them from helping poor people. Their efforts are truly the embodiment of the teachings of Jesus Christ and should be commended. Although this story is extremely moving and heartbreaking, the people must not be defined by the ineptness of public officials who just don’t get the concept of charity, support, and helping the people they are commissioned to do. I find it ironic that many of those who were there in need of food come from the black community, and while the church has never addressed such a coincidence, it’s clear that such heartless actions were more than likely driven by the seeds of racist hate in Raleigh, North Carolina. So, I urge all God-fearing people to rebuke these people who hinder righteousness, charity, and the spirit of humanity by contacting Raleigh public officials and voice complete outrage regarding this senseless matter. If your ever in Raleigh, North Carolina, don’t drink the water because it comes from a place without soul, dignity, and compassion.
The People’s Champion I’m David Adams