STATE ATTORNEY DISMISSES TRESPASSING CHARGES AGAINST FOOD NOT BOMBS VOLUNTEERS
|FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONTACT || |
|Rena Frazier || |
|Chief of Policy and Communication || |
|813-274-1920 || |
|Frazier_R@SAO13th.com || |
Tampa, FL – Andrew Warren, the newly-elected State Attorney for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County, will not prosecute volunteers from Tampa Food Not Bombs who were arrested for trespassing for feeding the homeless earlier this year. On January 7, 2017, seven volunteers were arrested for trespass for distributing food to the homeless in Lykes Gaslight Square Park, a Tampa-owned park, without the required city permit. The seven volunteers were issued notices to appear in court before a judge, at which time the case was referred to the State Attorney’s Office for prosecution. The first volunteer’s appearance was scheduled for January 18, 2017. Today, the State Attorney’s Office filed a Notice of Nolle Prosequi for the first of the trespassing arrests, which serves as a dismissal of the case. The State Attorney’s Office will dismiss the cases for the remaining six defendants after those appearances are scheduled.
Regarding his decision not to prosecute, Warren said, “My mission is to make our community safer while promoting justice and fairness for everyone. Prosecuting people for charitable work does not further that mission and is an inefficient use of government resources. Furthermore, our goal is to view each case not as a person to be prosecuted but as a problem to be solved. That is why we have spoken with the Tampa Police Department, members of Tampa City Council, the Mayor’s office, and the attorney for Tampa Food Not Bombs in order to facilitate a resolution, and we commend them for working together to find a sensible solution. We will not prosecute the trespassing charges so long as the Tampa Food Not Bombs organization willingly participates in reaching a resolution to this matter and remains non-violent.”