Phoenix police shut down barbecue for homeless event, say organizers were trespassing

An attempt to help the homeless on July 3 was halted after police told organizers to leave the area.

An organization called Hearts For The Homeless AZ was holding its second annual “Barbecue For The Homeless” near 7th Avenue and Jefferson Street, and about an hour into the event, Phoenix police arrived and officers told the organizations that they were in violation and that they had to leave.

Before the end of the event, volunteers provided food, water, clothing and other items to people in need.

The organization’s founder, Gerrie Hanke, says the situation downtown is the worst she has ever seen.

“There are a lot of different reasons why people are on the streets,” Hanke said. “Not necessarily what people think. A lot of housing drives them here.”

“A lot of people are dying of heat, and especially right now. There are so many old people, and I see more and more families on the streets every week,” said Michele Tallberg of Backpacks 4 Kids AZ. “If we all try to make a difference one day, and, you know, believe in people and show them that people care and they can do it, people will.”

It is not known why the event was closed by the police. Organizers say they have held similar events on the property in the past with no issues.

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Joseph K. Bennett