ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Arresting someone for feeding hungry people sounds crazy - but it happened.
The man was arrested by APD sued and now the city is having to pay up.
"Sharing food with someone because they're hungry - it's elemental to our Christian traditions," Albuquerque resident Alfonso Hernandez said. "And for the city government coming down and telling us we need their permission - it's totally wrong."
Hernandez was feeding the hungry on the Fourth Street Mall when APD officers arrested him in 2010 for serving food without a permit, disobeying a police officer and trespassing.
A Metro Court judge dismissed the charge of operating without a permit because there's no law that says you need a permit to feed the hungry if it's not for profit.
A district court judge eventually dismissed the other two charges.
He says the city had a pattern of trying to get certain groups that feed the hungry to stop their operations.
"I decided to bury my heels simply because, when is this going to stop," he said. "We need to teach government to guarantee our rights."
The suit points to an email obtained through public records in which an APD sergeant tells officers of a new "intelligence gathering mission."
Hernandez's group, as well as the Albuquerque Rescue Mission, are mentioned specifically.
"Do they have a business permit?" the email says. "Who gave them permission to feed the homeless at all?"
It goes on to order officers to arrest individuals if needed.
In the end, city officials decided it wasn't worth the fight. On Tuesday, the city settled for $45,000.
Hernandez still feeds the hungry every Sunday out on the Fourth Street Mall.
"I continue to do it," he said. "I haven't stopped despite their intimidations and their threats."
He wants the payout to send a message - that the city should not hassle groups that feed the hungry.
Another couple was arrested during the same homeless outreach event.
They also settled with the city for $40,000.
The city called the payouts "economic decisions" based on the potential costs of litigation.
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