90-year-old among first charged under Fort Lauderdale’s strict rules against feeding homeless
Fort Lauderdale police say Arnold Abbott violated a new city law, but the 90-year-old homeless advocate says his only crime was to “love thy neighbor.”
Abbott was charged Sunday along with two local pastors with violating the city’s new ordinance that effectively bans giving out food in public. He faces 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, and he intends to get cited again Wednesday night, when he sets out to feed some of the Florida city’s estimated 10,000 homeless on a public beach.
“I know that I will be arrested again, and I am prepared for that,” Abbott said by phone from his office at Love Thy Neighbor, Inc., a nonprofit he established in honor of his wife, Maureen, after her death in a car accident 23 years ago. “I am my brother’s keeper, and what they are doing is just heartless.”
Fort Lauderdale passed an ordinance late last month that included a slate of new regulations on where and how groups can provide food to homeless people. The vote made the city the 13th in the nation since 2012 to pass restrictions on where people can feed the homeless, according to a report by the National Coalition for the Homeless.
The regulations enacted in Fort Lauderdale state that no two indoor feeding sites can be within 500 feet of one another or on the same block; outdoor feeding programs require a permit or permission of the property owner and must provide portable toilets; and outdoor stations cannot be within 500 feet of residential properties.
God bless you Mr Abbott.