(Orlando Sentinel) - 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.