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ORLANDO, Fla. -- A man was thrown in jail for trying to help the homeless and, he said, he's willing to do it again. Eric Montanez bonded out of jail, Thursday.
Montanez was charged with violating Orlando's new city ordinance that bans feeding homeless people gathered in a large group. The arrested activist told Eyewitness News he'll keep fighting.
Police said Montanez, 21, with the group Food Not Bombs, broke the law by feeding more than 25 people, as Orlando's ordinance allows, inside Lake Eola's park on Wednesday. But Montanez is insistent he did nothing wrong.
"It is not against the law to feed people as much as they want to criminalize the help of the homelessness," he told Eyewitness News.
Undercover officers worked surveillance and counted how many people Montanez fed, 30. Police even took some stew served, as evidence.
Montanez said the city reversed its position after saying it wouldn't try to enforce the ordinance until the ACLU lawsuit worked its way through the courts.
An affidavit said Montanez was only arrested because he attempted to conceal his identity and threw his ID.
"I had it in my hand. They cuffed me and they dragged me off. I can't hold onto things with handcuffs on my hands," he said.
"There are a lot better things for law enforcement to be doing in this town. This was an outrage," said George Crossley, Central Florida ACLU.
The mayor's office did not respond to calls from Eyewitness News on Thursday. Orlando police said they are simply enforcing the laws. But the ACLU claims it's just another example of the harassment it endures, as its group and several others try to help those in need.
The ACLU believes the ordinance itself is unconstitutional. Homeless supporters had gotten around the law by having several groups present, with each not feeding more than 25 people.
Montanez said he won't be scared off.
"You'll see me out there," he said.
Montanez faces a misdemeanor charge for feeding a large group in a city-owned park. According to police, no organization had obtained the required permit for Wednesday's group feeding.
I didnt get to read the full article. Did they happen to mention what the proper way to feed people would be?
Should it be known that if you are homeless and hungry, come here and you will be fed, the place would be overrun. So much for use by all.
On a different note, if this guy really wants to help out, instead of breaking the law, he could simply invite everyone to his house and feed them there.