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Church group members threatened with arrest for handing biscuits, coffee to homeless

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Courtesy ABC News

A North Carolina church group said they were prevented from handing out food to the homeless after police threatened them with arrest, according to their website.

For the past six years, volunteers from Love Wins Ministries frequented Moore Square in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturdays and Sundays to give out hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich to those in need, according to the church group's website.

But when volunteers went down to their usual weekend spot to dole out the 100 sausage biscuits and the gallons of coffee they had brought to feed the crowds who had gathered Saturday morning, they were also greeted by officers with the Raleigh Police Department, according to a statement on the church group's website.

"An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested," the Rev. Hugh Hollowell wrote on the group's website. "We asked the officers for permission to disperse the biscuits to the over 70 people who had lined up, waiting to eat. They said no. I had to face those who were waiting and tell them that I could not feed them, or I would be arrested."

The Raleigh police were there to enforce a city ordinance that bans the distribution of food in any of the city's parks, ABC Raleigh, N.C., station WTVD-TV reported.

While the group said it was aware they could not use the park itself, they had set up on the sidewalk for the past six years without issue, their website said.

"No representative from the Raleigh Police Department was willing to tell us which ordinance we were breaking, or why, after six years and countless friendly and cooperative encounters with the Department, they are now preventing us from feeding hungry people," Hollowell wrote.

In addition, the group learned it would need to apply for a permit to use the park, which costs $800 a day, their website said.

No arrests were made in connection with the food distribution, Raleigh Police Department spokesman Jim Sughrue told WTVD-TV.

"People were simply informed the ordinance prohibits the kinds of actions some groups have been engaged in at the park," he said.

Despite the off-putting encounter, Hollowell wrote that the group plans to find a venue in downtown Raleigh to carry out their mission.

In the meantime, they are seeking out owners of private buildings or parking lots to allow them to continue to bring biscuits to the hungry, the website said.

Love Wins Ministries did not immediately return ABC News' requests for comment.

Read on ABC News

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