Facebook posts indicate Little Rock police have cracked down on the homeless feeding program at the From His Throne ministry at 1101 W. Markham Street (across the street from Doe’s restaurant).

This was posted last night on the page of Reach Out, a nonprofit that volunteers help for the homeless.

I have just had a very disturbing phone call that Little Rock Police have started harassing homeless who are at From His Throne Ministry for an evening meal. Co-Pastor Melody Malat received a call this afternoon from Officer Watson, was told that the homeless there were an eyesore, that the homeless should just be bussed out to Jericho Way or the Compassion Center, and that they want Pastor Joe and Melody to meet with them next week. Later this evening when Joe and Melody opened the church for the evening meal, police cars were there harassing anyone standing outside the church, telling Melody and Joe that they had to remove people from the sidewalk, and pulling into the church parking lot in back to tell one of the guys that he could not be there in his car. Even after the meal when people were just there cleaning up, they went outside to smoke, and police informed them they could not be outside. To top this off, Melody said that there is now a police camera installed across the street pointed at the From His Throne church. THIS IS HARASSMENT! This is the city that is voting to join the International Compassionate City program! This is not acceptable! Looks like the compassionate city has a new initiative started. Aaron Reddin have you heard about this?

Malat’s storefront church has been providing meals to the homeless since volunteers who’d provided food in a parking lot behind City Hall were forced elsewhere by Broadway Bridge construction. The city doesn’t want them back when the bridge work is done. City officials first proposed an essential ban of homeless feeding in city parks (meaning the parking lot by Riverfront Park) to keep them out. Then another volunteer effort arose to round up the homeless in vans to truck them out to the city’s day shelter operated by Jericho Way in far southeast Little Rock for outdoor evening feeding. (That program had not started yet.) Few of the groups that had participated in the Broadway Bridge feeding have agreed to go along with the move, seeing it as part of a long-running and concerted city effort to get the homeless out of downtown. Malat was quoted on Reach Out about events Friday night:

“They had set up a police camera mounted on the telephone pole on the corner of Ringo and Markham pointed directly towards our front doors, and at-least 6 patrol cars came by tonight running people off of the sidewalk directly in front of our front doors for loitering in the middle of us feeding. They said that they were told by the police Lt. to start cracking down. Anybody that is hanging out in front of Salvation Army or us will be arrested or issued citations for loitering.”

Reach Out commented:

Why are our city leaders so fixated on meal location when we have had 39 homicides, when we are having gang shoot outs all over the city, at a time our city is experiencing so much violence, (NOT by homeless people) when citizens of Little Rock are being told there is such a shortage of officers? Why are 6 patrol cars and a police camera being used to harass and threaten a church serving an evening meal to homeless people?

I’ve sent notes to the police chief, the police information officer, the city manager and the city attorney and the mayor about the police action Friday night. I’ll update should anyone respond. UPDATE: Mayor Stodola said he had not been told about the police action and was inquiring.

Further comments on Facebook: