Authorities in Daytona Beach have waived $2000 in fines that were levied against a Christian outreach group for feeding homeless people in a public park.
NBC reports that Chico and Debbie Jimenez, who made national headlines earlier this month, met with Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood and a city attorney on Wednesday, May 21. The city representatives agreed to dismiss the citations and waive the fines levied at the Jimenezes and their ministry, Spreading The Word Without Saying A Word. The Jimenezes, along with four other people, had been charged with violating a city ordinance prohibiting people from sharing food with homeless people in public spaces.
“They’ve dropped all the charges,” Debbie Jimenez said. “But we’re not going to stop feeding people around here. We’ve been doing that all along.” Since their banishment from Manatee Park, the Jimenezes have spent their time feeding impoverished families who are not homeless, as well as “people living in camps in wooded areas within the community.”
During their meeting, the couple was informed that, should they return to feeding homeless people in Manatee Park, they would face stiffer penalties, including criminal charges. Chico Jimenez confirmed the warning, saying “It’s jail time if we get caught.” The officials also requested that the Jimenezes apply for a permit should they wish to continue feeding the homeless. Though he said that he planned to return on Thursday to apply for the permit, Chico Jimenez held little hope that it would be issued:
“I still want to be able to feed at Manatee Park because we’ve been feeding people there for a year. I’m more than positive that they’re not going to allow me to do that. And when they turn me down, my lawyer will file a lawsuit against the city for violating our civil rights.”
Prior to being cited, the Jimenezes fed hundreds of homeless people every week, as previously reported by The Inquisitr. Police Chief Mike Chitwood said that some local residents had lodged complaints about homeless people disturbing the grounds, or showing up drunk. According to AlterNet, Chitwood also claimed the ordinance stood for a reason:
“There is a segment of the homeless population that is homeless by choice. I don’t want to impugn them all. But some are homeless because they are sex offenders, substance abusers and bank robbers. That’s why we ask (Good Samaritans) to coordinate with our social service agencies, because they know who needs to be served.”
The Jimenezes, not surprisingly, disagree. “This time, the police said we are creating more homeless people by feeding them in the park, that we are enabling them by giving them one meal in a week,” Chico said. “Does that make sense to you? It’s so crazy.”
While the future may be uncertain for them, the Jimenezes are sure their efforts will continue, saying that feeding the homeless is their “calling in life.”
[Image via NBC]