back to article Florida man faces trial for feeding homeless

A Florida man who deliberately defied an Orlando ordinance which prohibits feeding the city's homeless will become the first person to face trial for the offence when he's hauled before a judge and jury. According to wftv.com, 22-year-old Eric Montanez was in April this year caught on video camera providing nourishment to a …

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  1. Rick Byers

    They make me laugh

    If Jesus was handing out loaves and fishes in this bit of Florid he would be breaking the law as well!!

    Sometimes US law make me wonder where it all went wrong!!

  2. Steve ten Have

    Amazing

    How is it that such a law even got past in the first place? Astoundingly narrow and unsurprisingly American.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    let's hope it was just eggs and toast

    Imagine the city's wrath if he was distributing bread and fish. Simply unacceptable in this modern age.

  4. Niall

    What would Jesus Do?

    Probably a five year streach in Gitmo.

  5. Ralph B
    IT Angle

    The RIAA Angle?

    I'm just waiting for Orlowski to tell us that the RIAA should arrest Limp Bizkit and Radiohead for giving away music to the unwashed masses.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Welcome to America

    Nuff Said.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Food/money?

    This is insane!

    I, for one, am glad to see someone giving food rather than money to the homeless.

    Food can't be spent on drugs. (Not that i'm saying that all homeless people are crack/smack heads, just that that seems to be the case in Nottingham where i live)

    There are even posters around the city saying not to give money directly to the homeless, but to donate it to a charity that helps

  8. Gabor Laszlo

    "Don not feed the humans"

    Cute. Next thing you know, being homeless will be punishable with prison. While that would solve their housing and food problem, it seems like the wrong solution.

  9. Alex Barlow

    Something Wrong

    It just makes me feel like there is something wrong with the world when I see headlines like 'Man Faces Trial for Feeding Homeless'. If the state is unwilling or unable to provide for everyone then they shouldn't be stopping people from helping them of their own volition.

    I guess this is just another example of the haves trying to purge the have-nots from their vicinity.

  10. Anonymous John
    Coat

    I think it's my turn...

    .. to ask about the Paris Hilton connection.

  11. Chad H.
    Joke

    He's lucky it wasnt texas

    He'd already be in the electric chair if it was...

  12. Dam
    Thumb Down

    TERRORIST ANTI AMERICAN HOMELESS FEEDER

    Enough said.

    PS: Ah well, at least you guys are giving us a fucking laugh in Europe...

  13. Chris Hawkins

    Land of the Free and In God we trust!

    As I have observed for the past twenty years, since visiting the U.S. for the first time, that nation is populated in large part by hypocrites (many of whom are so-called Christians) and who make a complete mockery of the Constitution, their Founding Fathers intent, and the phrases:

    "Land of the Free"

    "In God we trust!"

    "Give me your huddled masses"

    Jesus would be locked up today in the USA.

    This incident is just another example of countless like it over the years.

    May its citizens be forgiven for the injustices it perpetrates in the name of the "Management Upstairs"

  14. Aitor

    Jail

    Some years ago it was illegal to be homeless in Spain.

    There was a law, that roughly translated to English was called "Law of Vagrants and Crooks".

    If you could not prove that you have enough resources to live, they sent you to jail....

    That law was passed 74 years ago, and went out of practice, I thought this was a thing of the past...

  15. leslie

    Good ol US of A

    Anyone wonder america is so hated by every country except america? (politicians excluded....)

  16. gareth
    Joke

    this law could be the answer to their prayers

    the charity gets homeless people to feed other homeless people they get arressted and get jail time so they get a roof over their head get some rehabilitation training in jail (like welding skills bricklaying etc) this makes them employable when you get a job (when an application form says do you have a criminal record you answer yes then it says what was the nature of the offense no soane person is going to take feeding homeless people as a crime) then the parol board can set them up with accomodation all of a sudden the homeless problem is solved and its all paid for by the prision service

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    About time...

    The question shouldn't be how the Americans passed the law, it's about how do we bring it over here. Being made to feel guilty simply because we get up every morning and go to work makes a mockery of the working class, top that with then having to put up with the abuse if we don't is absolutely shocking.

    I give money to registered charities monthly, it's my way of contributing where I can, however this money goes to help with real issues, last I checked laziness wasn't a disease!

    It's only a shame our winters aren't colder; would at least sort out some of the problem. Where are these snap-winters that global warming is meant to be bringing?

    Flame away!

  18. Jason Harvey
    Coat

    hah... too bad it wasn't texas...

    there would have been even more people come out for the great BBQ and casseroles... lots of good Baptists around here... gatherings always have lots of food and they don't mind sharing with much of anyone (the food or the gospel).

    as for the old fogies in Florida... looks like they care more about putting up a nice yard than dealing with reality. Feeding the homeless helps. Giving them booze/drug money doesn't.

    or maybe they're wanting to provide more booze/drug money to the homeless to kill them off to help ease the tax burden on their own medicare... those greedy old retired people! (isn't that all that's in florida anyway?)

  19. Lloyd

    Hmmmm

    So, presumably mass feeding of any kind in a public park would provoke the same response? Does this mean that that a company picnic in a park with the company paying for the food would be illegal? It might be worth trying it out, make all your employees dress scruffily (the age old stereotype of the homeless person) and go down to the park at lunchtime to partake of some cheesy convestibules provided by "the management".

  20. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    Well, it IS Orlando, after all...

    ...tacky theme-park-family-vacation capital of the world. Letting reality intrude would hurt the fantasy trade.

    Of course, being that this IS the South, I hope that his defence in court involves quoting Matthew 25:34-46... give the Bible-thumpers a taste of their own medicine!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    Sounds like they'd have Jesus himself in the dock, were he here today, feeding the thousands with a few loaves & fishes.

    Still he can think himself lucky he didn't get a harmless tazering while they were at it.

  22. Doug Jenkins

    the only way to stomache this...

    Sent a "thank you" to the Orlando city mayor (buddy.dyer@cityoforlando.net) for their "property (or appearance) before people" stance.

    What a country we live in!

    God Bless

    Doug

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So quick to judge

    As usual, a whole pile of people are looking at the consequences of a law without looking at its history. Did the author of this fanciful article bother to do any research into why the law is there?

    Anyone who says this is wrong without knowing anything more than just what a one-sided and closed-minded article says is more guilty of stupidity than even the most misguided American politician.

  24. Charles Manning

    Jesus

    He didn't exactly get off with a warning did he? Maybe Judas ratted him out for feeding the homeless.

  25. Alex Barlow

    @About time...

    I don't know if you were joking but I must say that completely overlooks the little minor part of the situation where some people aren't on the street because they are lazy!

    If everyone took your stance and gave money to homeless charities then it wouldn't be an issue, but until then...

  26. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Florida justice

    Have they started clamping the homeless yet?

  27. JRallo
    Coat

    I live..

    Not to far from this city...

    http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=20070208110119210

    Gives the full view of the 'issue' at hand.

    I guess I'll have to quit washing my clothes in the urinal using the free soap they give out. Fido will be quite upset he can't be walked in the park on account I may have to take an illegal snooze in the flower bed around mid day.

    They even went so far as to set hours Panhandlers could work:

    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/2007/09/nighttime-panha.html

    I was out of a second job over night :-|

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Americans no better than the Corrupt African states

    And what I mean is not that every African Regime is Corrupt (allthough the vast majority are, and yes I have lived there, and yes, I know plenty of corrupt African politicians personally!)

    But to make it illegal, to feed homeless, and/or poor people, is just completely wild!!!

    There is no justification for this!!!

    Also the fact that tax payers money is being wasted like this, just shows the utter arrogance of these people!

    there would be justification to have it under a bit more control or require a check-up from the authorities, but this is just completely nuts!

    And for those who are wondering,: Yes, I am in a rage, and it is more an more understandable why people are starting to use unconventional methods of going against the US Government!!!

    Why don't they just let who ever created this law or bill or what ever it was live on the streets for say four weeks!!! ideally in a "foreign town" where they don't know anyone!!!

    Screw these arrogant bastards who think they are above the law and don't seem to have an iota of humanity.

  29. Mr Smin

    @Mike Richards

    No, they only clamp homeless people on The Strand - it's a different legal system, you see.

  30. James O'Brien

    I love America

    Being that Im American as well I absolutely love the stupidity of lawmakers over here. How is it that they believe criminalizing being homeless or helping the homeless is going to prevent it? Having been close to that state myself and volunteering in shelters years ago I know that alot of these people really are down and out. I vote we all email the city of Orlando telling them to pound salt up their ash and let people be.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What - The - Fuck?

    Title says it all...

  32. Matt
    Thumb Up

    You're not homeless in America unless you want to be.

    There are more then enough social programs and funding to eliminate street people -- and it's an important difference to differentiate between "homeless" (which includes people the vast majority of "homeless" who living full time in shelters, welfare-paid hotel rooms, and transitional housing) and "street people." The media and liberals love to not differentiate between the two, because calling people in a with a roof over their heads, hot meals, and a warm bed "homeless" makes the problem seem much worse then it is.

    The Street People are there because they choose to be -- the make choices not to become and/or stay sober or live by other rules of society.

    Mentally ill? Perhaps -- but not so ill as to have their freedoms taken away and be involuntarily committed. So when they are placed in treatment programs, they decide it's crimping their style and check themselves out.

    Today's street population is directly responsible to two trends in the 1970s that met: Liberals whining about "mental illness is not a crime" and how people should be free to check themselves out of pyschiatric hospitals, and fiscal conservatives quite happy to oblige in reducing the size of said hospitals.

    They are by and large the ones mentally ill and/or addicted who at the same time don't represent an immediate threat to others or themselves sufficient to justify the denial of their freedom.

    Unless you support criminalization of mental illness and/or addiction, you will never make a dent on the current street people populations. They chose this life as their preference, and most will continue to do so unless kept locked up.

    Keep giving them opportunities to decide to take advantage of programs and let them become sober, but don't have sympathy for their self-imposed exile from normal society. Programs like Orlandos are aimed at those who enable their street life.

  33. duncan parkertron

    homeless

    Maybe some kind of compromise could be reached. I mean nobody wants to encourage homelessness really.

    How about food in exchange for sterilisation?

  34. Marco

    Re: So quick to judge

    "As usual, a whole pile of people are looking at the consequences of a law without looking at its history. Did the author of this fanciful article bother to do any research into why the law is there?"

    It doesn't matter why the law was put into place; what matters is what's done with it.

    If it can be applied in this way, something's wrong with it and that is all.

  35. JC

    Taste of their own medicine

    I'd like to see those responsible for passing this law, corralled for a few days without food, and a plate full of ham sandwiches just out of reach. Every time someone comes up to nudge the sandwiches closer, they're cuffed and taken away at the last moment, and those in the corral are cited, for inciting criminal activity. After about a week, give them a sandwich in a giant block of ice and let them lick their way down to the food.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Makes sense

    when you realize this happened in the same state that elected George Bush's brother as their governor. TWICE.

  37. Niels

    Why not?

    Its 'The War On The Poor' (TWOTP) - I hope it works as well as the other wars they started. TWOTP is the solution to the WOTH (war on the homeless) My favourite was WTF (War Thriving Fools) - talk about patriotic!

    Remember that war on something solves everything.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many of them were pissed up on booze...

    So far I've spoken to Kim Wilde.

    "Clamping? The homeless? That's barbaric!"

    I was going to try to post something sensible here, but I am so utterly outraged it would be the plural of that rather short c word.

  39. O

    I thought this was illegal in most US states?

    The reason for the law is that the authorities don't want large groups of vagrants (who may well have anti-establishment or left-field views) gathering in the same place at one time. It's very much like the curbs on freedom of speech / association / meeting that used to exist in the USSR. Most Americans live in a dreamworld .... it's one of the least 'free' developed countries in the world.

  40. Steve Browne

    Not all homelessness is deliberate

    I was ordered from my home and the landlord ordered to assign the tenancy of the flat to my (now ex) wife. I was given 3 days to get out. In that time I had to find somewhere to live, grab what I could and go. The local authority suggested the night shelter. I lost the rest of my possessions when the decree became absolute. I ended up living in a single room, too small to turn around in, in a place so bad even the asylum seekers left.

    So, please, when you start criticising the homeless, there but for a county court judge, a decree nisi and a vicious and vindictive woman with a teenage daughter go you ! Had it been the reverse, the local authority would have been obliged to house her. Got a live in girl friend, dangerous. (And it doesn't matter if you own the home either, you still have to go).

    Anyway, I think it is disgraceful that a "christian" country should perpetrate such a law on its citizens. Giving food to someone who is hungry should never be a crime.

  41. Rick Brasche
    Thumb Down

    dumb-@sses and their sociopathy

    it's a *law*. Instead of breaking it, change it. But this guy, who's obviously already got some sort of political agenda (having "supporters" isn't a normal thing) is drumming up free publicity.

    i don't give a rat's arse if you "don't like" a law. I don't care if it's feeding the homeless, speed limits, or credit card fraud or murder, if you're going to be all hippy-dippy Thoreau-ian, breaking laws, expect consequences.

    Real courage isn't being a selfish sociopath who thinks their own personal values trump everything and everyone around them. real courage is *knowing* you're going to have a serious penalty for breaking the law, and having the conviction that the penalty is worth it. It's not "protesting" during a convenient hour in nice weather where the cops are protecting *you* from your own stupidity-nor is it merely taking a chance that there will be problems. It's expecting the consequences, knowing there will be a great cost, and still going forth. It's knowing *you* will be the one to die when the bullets fly, *you* that will end up imprisoned and penniless. Not some "supporters".

    Nor is it crying and whining when you do get busted. The goal is supposed to be the act-if it was so important to feed the "homeless", then it was "worth it". But this was really about breaking laws and getting press, not real and decent objectives.

    too many self aggrandizing "protestors" and selfish whiners in disguise looking for drama. In this case, if it was about "homelessness" then he could gather "supporters" and actually DO something about it. But following the system is boring, slow, unglamorous and un-cool. which is why he and too many of his ilk don't effect real change.

  42. Daniel

    @Rick Brasche: Legal lesson of the day

    Would you bother to learn how the legal system works before you spout your uninformed opinions? I guess it's easier to sit in your sanctimonious smugness than to actually research and LEARN anything, isn't it? You, sir, demonstrate one of the very worst types of people I run into in daily life - the self righteous ignoramus. Well, here is a civics lesson.

    Ok, a quick and rough legal lesson, in plain American English. There are essentially two ways to change a law in this country - through your elected representatives (legislatively) or through a challenge in the courts (judicially). Now, it's pretty obvious that the first option wasn't going to happen anytime soon - it was the elected representatives who passed the law. HOWEVER, that still doesn't mean the law was a legal law. It's entirely possible that the law is forbidden by a higher jurisdiction - in this case, state law, federal law, or constitutional law.

    The only way to determine whether or not a law is in violation of a higher authority is to ask the courts. HOWEVER, the courts REALLY don't like to interfere with laws before they are actually enforced, and will usually only do so if the consequences of failing to do so are seen as catastrophic. So, in most cases, someone must make themselves a test case, purposely break the law in a way which is very publicly obvious, and then go to court to challenge the resulting attempt to have it enforced.

    DO YOU UNDERSTAND YET, YOU PEA-BRAINED IDIOT? THIS IS THE WAY THE LEGAL SYSTEM WORKS. NOTHING HERE IS UNUSUAL. WHETHER YOU AGREE WITH HIS POSITION OR NOT, THE ACTUAL PROCESS HE IS GOING THROUGH IS PERFECTLY NORMAL.

    Thank you, and good night.

    -daniel

  43. Andy Bright
    Jobs Horns

    Free=Socialist=Communist=Terrorist

    About, I don't know, a couple hundred years after the Europeans invented the USA an odd group of people gained control.

    They choose to forget they were the sons and daughters of immigrants, who more often than not were dirt poor and had to live off the charity of their more established neighbours.. and started getting all these odd notions about providing to the community.

    Basically a few of the more extreme and very successful right wing media personalities have managed to convince a strangely large number of working class Americans that anything either government sponsored or given away for free = communism.

    They victimise the homeless in particular, because the homeless are a reminder that things like hospitals sending $100,000 medical bills, mortgage companies being allowed to charge store card interest rates and having 2 year limits on socially protective programs like welfare payments are examples of a greedy society gone mad.

    The idea that their tax dollars should be spent on protecting the weak instead of fattening the wallets of corporate government contractors (read: rich boys club handouts) is somehow synonymous with communist Russia.

    So no encouraging the homeless to gather in one place because it makes the nice people uncomfortable seeing that dirty, addicted or just down right miserable people exist. Much better to ban feeding them so we can safely sweep them under the carpet and pretend we all live in Disneyland.

  44. Cambrasa

    Homeless people may look cute...

    ..but they are vermin. They lay eggs up to 8 times a year, carry many diseases, and crap all over the place. If you feed them their number doubles in a matter of weeks.

  45. Finn

    Distance of Justice

    Distance between tyranny and any goverment is inversely proportional to the distance of laws of the government and justice.

  46. Steve

    Before those of here in the UK

    climb too far up the moral high ground let's be aware that the Vagarncy Act of 1864 is still on the statute books. This act, argueably, criminalises the homeless in the UK. Homeless link

    http://www.homeless.org.uk/db/20030313230517

    are, among others, campaigning for it to be scrapped. OK, we aren't tossing people in clink for feeding the homeless but we aren't saints either.

    And can we drop these stupid thumbnails which aren't emoticons ffs.

    Steve

  47. Fee
    Coat

    Makes you think..

    ...Food for thought....

    Think that's my taxi outside.

  48. dave butler

    Found not guilty yesterday

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/orl-montanez0907oct09,0,2813179.story

  49. Charley

    Eat the homeless

    That would achieve two things.

    1. Less hungry homeless

    2. Less homeless.

    Then we could move on to eating criminals. Once we've eaten all of them we'd have all these big empty prisons where we could house all of the hom... Hang on, let me think about this a bit more.

    I'll get back to you.

  50. Bytus

    At this speed...

    ...they'll be rounding up and shooting the homeless by 2008, same thing for > 70 year olds by 2010 and non-re-educated (i.e. brainwashed) regime followers by 2015.

    Geez and they keep bashing nazi-cruelties. They're moving the same direction at an alarming rate. Fascism at its best!

  51. Bytus

    @ "Eat the homeless"

    Soilent green is homeless people!!!

  52. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Anonymous Coward

    Incentives

    I have regretfully concluded that it is my duty as a citizen of the US and an inhabitant of the planet to vote for the meanest bastards that can make their way onto the ballot; failure to do so would deprive substantial numbers of UK residents of their assurance of moral superiority, and probably lead to widespread depression among El Reg's readership.

  53. Steve

    @anonymous coward

    see my post about our Vagrancy Act. Too many smug gits round these parts.

    Steve

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    guess you missed

    whole towns being destroyed earlier this year those weren't replaced or anything Florida where you can lose your home to the weather and be jailed for feeding the homeless what a crappy place.

  55. Gabor Laszlo
    Thumb Up

    Followup

    The guy's been acquitted and praised by the judge for the “important” volunteer work he does feeding the homeless.

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orange/orl-bk-montanez10092007,0,4192156.story?coll=orl-bucs

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Homelessness used to be illegal in many places in the US...

    It was called having "no visible means of support". The implication was that if you couldn't demonstrate that you had some income, or money, you were presumed to be using illegal means to survive. This sort of law was eventually found to be illegal, but it does hint at the intolerance many people in the US have towards the unfortunate, the mentally ill, the addict, and others who are homeless.

    As for the law against feeding people - it seems that the part objected to was the *mass* feeding, not so much just handing food to someone. I suppose they might argue that doing that (mass feeding) was somehow a danger, creating crowds that could become unruly, blah, blah... That wouldn't hold up if challenged.

    There are many other laws in other towns that try to force the homeless out of the area, one way or another. All these laws are illegal, but it requires someone with legal connections to challenge them; an ordinary homeless person would just be arrested, put into jail, or run out of town (that, too, is illegal, and common).

  57. Jason
    Flame

    Here lies Common Sense. It's rotting corpse on public display for all to see.

    "This country was built on Equal Rights. Some people are just more equal than others."

    -Unknown credit for this quote (Heard it on the news).

    I want to know why the court system even bothered to let this law pass?

    Is this because the US education system is top notch? Maybe our health insurance system is the best in the world? Wait I know, our country's leader has united the middle east in an everylasting peace and the world is rejoicing.

    (That was sarcasm for those that can't read between the lines)

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