Councilwoman goes against peers to feed Houston's homeless
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Rita Garcia, Reporter & Anchor
A city councilwoman broke city ordinance as organizers passed out dozens of warm meals to the homeless in Downtown Houston.
Volunteers set up camp on public property across the street from the city's library.
The problem? They didn't give the council notice nor did they receive written permission to serve food.
"We do not need permission to feed and share with our fellow people," said Nick Cooper with Food Not Bombs, the group behind Wednesday night's event.
Cooper was fully aware he could face a citation, but he said his organization feeds four days out of the week and will continue to do so, despite the revised city ordinance that went into effect July 1.
Houston City Council voted to require all organizations get written consent from the city before camping out and feeding the homeless.
Councilwoman Helena Brown was out-voted. She called the city law wrong and unconstitutional.
"For some of us to share food, this is part of our religion," Brown said.
Others, like downtown resident Hershel Donny, agree with the ordinance.
"There have to be regulations," Donny said. "Bad things happen to good people, but they have to follow the rules of the community in order to keep the community nice."
Thousands want the same thing while still feeding the homeless.
At Tuesday's city council meeting, protestors collected over 30,000 signatures from those wanting the council to place the issue on the November ballot.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker said the city secretary would have to verify all names. Given the time constraints, the issue will not make the ballot.
Since then, a number of advocates and attorneys have threatened to file suit.
Cooper said he'll continue to set up on public property and feed the homeless.