Orthodox priest to test Orlando, FL ban on feeding homeless
- Pensacola priest to protest Orlando's homeless-feeding rule
An Orthodox priest from Pensacola is coming to Orlando to lead a
demonstration in support of a group that has faced legal trouble for feeding
the homeless in Orlando's Lake Eola Park.
"The criminalization of public service to the poor is to criminalize poverty
itself," said the Rev. Nathan Monk. "The continued efforts of the City of
Orlando to prevent distribution of food to the poor is a violation of the
constitution at its highest form. To prevent one human from reaching out to
help another human in need is contrary to the decency we have all been
taught from our youth."
Monk, of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, has scheduled the protest for
Saturday, July 9 at 4 p.m. at Lake Eola Park. He also plans to distribute a
hot meal of bread loaves and fish to the people present at the event.
Monk, a homeless rights activist known to many as "Father Nathan," has set
up a Facebook page for the event and expects a crowd of about 300 people. He
once protested an ordinance than banned panhandling in Escambia County by
holding a sign bearing the words "Feed the Poor" in the areas where homeless
people had formerly gathered.
Several members of the group Orlando Food Not Bombs have been arrested for
violating a city rule that prohibits providing food to large groups of
people in the city's downtown parks without a permit.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has called the group's members "food terrorists."
Monk said he supports Food Not Bombs.
"We stand alongside Food Not Bombs and any person that wishes to distribute
free food to those who are in need," Monk said. "Beyond this, we are
standing up for those who are hungry and forgotten, as it is them who are
suffering at the hands of this unjust policy."
'Anonymous,' a computer hacking group, has also hacked three Orlando-related
websites - including the site of the city's Chamber of Commerce - as a
protest against the ordinance.