Free At Last: Couple Who was Fined for Feeding Homeless Have Charges Cleared

Daytona Beach police dismissed Wednesday more than $2,000 in fines levied against a Florida couple – and four of their friends – for feeding homeless people at a park, local authorities confirmed to NBC News.

“They’ve dropped all the charges. But we’re not going to stop feeding people around here. We’ve been doing that all along,” said Debbie Jimenez, who, with her husband, Chico, was ticketed for trespassing and violating a local law that bars individuals from sharing food with homeless people in public places.

The Jimenezes met Wednesday with Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood and a city attorney, who agreed to waive the citations and accompanying fines, and urged the couple to apply for a city permit if they seek to continue publicly providing food to homeless people, Debbie Jimenez said.

The couple was warned, they said, that if they re-launch their Wednesday food-sharing sessions at Manatee Island Park in Daytona Beach, they will again face criminal charges – and more.

“It’s jail time if we get caught,” said Chico Jimenez, 60, a retired construction manager who, with his wife, a retired auto parts store manager, operates a New Smyrna Beach-based ministry called “Spreading the Word Without Saying a Word.” Since receiving the citations, the couple has been lugging boxes of food to impoverished families who have homes, and to people living in camps in wooded areas within the community, they said.

Chitwood confirmed in an email to NBC News that the fines and tickets were dismissed.

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