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December 25, 1988
Fed up with Christmas

Grand Central cops bust man with meals

by Paul Meskil
The ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge could be heard bah-humbugging in Grand Central Terminal as a Metro-North police lieutenant arrested one of Santa's helpers for attempting to feed the homeless there.

The Dickensian tale unfolded at 9 p.m. Friday -- when the Christmas spirit should have been in full swing -- as a van from the Homeless Coalition pulled up at the terminal's Vanderbilt Ave. entrance.

A dozen volunteers began unloading bags containing meals for 200 homeless men and women in the station.

But when the volunteers tried to bring the bags inside, they were stopped by four cops. What happened next was described later by volunteer George McDonald, an advocate for the homeless.

"We told the cops that if they had any problems with what we were doing they should call up the coalition office during the day but they shouldn't deny homeless people a meal just before Christmas," he said.

Calls his superior
"One of the cops called his lieutenant (Metro-North Lt. R. Steele) on a walkie-talkie radio and said I insisted on entering the terminal. The cop asked what he should do. 'Arrest him,' the lieutenant replied.

"'What's the charge?' the puzzled cop asked. The lieutenant said: 'Disorderly conduct.'"

McDonald was given a summons and must appear in Criminal Court.

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