TEMPE, Ariz. - A small non-profit called AZ Hugs is still serving Sunday meals to the homeless, even after the city of Tempe told them to stop. FOX 10's cameras were there at January 21's picnic at Papago Park, and so were the police.
You can find Austin Davis with AZ Hugs feeding the homeless at the park every Sunday afternoon. Even after two city citations and police officers telling him to get a permit, which the city turned down.
"People still need to eat, people still need safe spaces, and there are very few safe spaces where people can take a breath or relax.. if only for a few hours once a week, so we can keep hosting our picnics," said Davis.
But not everyone is crazy about the gatherings, like another small non-profit, called Clean Up Papago. Their team cleans the parks and does some planting, but say they also find items like needles and condoms left behind.
"We're gonna be left with no natural spaces for our future generations to be in. Imagine that. Imagine not being able to come out here and enjoy some fresh air and get away from everything."
But Davis isn't backing down, even after two tickets, a thumbs down from the city, and the real risk of an imminent arrest.
"So what we found is by creating a safe space where people feel comfortable, they can eat, relax, take a breath..," he said. "And really just think for a second, what are my next actual steps forward, what do I want to do next?"