Fort Lauderdale Man Arrested Feeding The Homeless, Debate Ensues

Last November, 91-year-old Floridian Arnold Abbott made headlines when he was arrested for feeding homeless people. Once this happened, activists filed a suit against Fort Lauderdale for “unconstitutional ordinance,” which includes fines, court appearances, and the arrests that took place in November.

At one time, according to Counter Current News, the city made it impossible to distribute food unless it included areas that they already approved.

According to the Daily Mail, the grassroots organization Food Not Bombs immediately gathered against the city and said that Fort Lauderdale officials crossed a line. Abbott told reporters, “I love the city. I live here, it’s a beautiful place and I’d like to keep it beautiful, but you cannot sweep the homeless under a rug. There is no rug large enough for that.”

He continued to explain how detrimental this regulation is to the homeless in Fort Lauderdale. “What the city is doing by cutting out feeding is very simple — they are forcing homeless people to go dumpster-diving all over again. They will steal. That’s what the mayor is forcing the homeless to do.”

The lawsuit that was filed against the city stated the following.

“The Park Rule requires ‘written agreement’ to share food, but lacks any process to obtain it or standards to guide decisions about whether to grant or deny permission and under what conditions. Revealing the lack of even any rational basis for this regulation, the same park rules allow picnics to take place without City permission.”

Lawyer Kirsten Clanton told the Nation that Food Not Bombs had the right to express their political interest and spread their message for feeding the homeless.

“Food Not Bombs protest are political actions: They believe that our society can end hunger and poverty if our resources are directed from the military and war towards meeting basic human needs, like food… they share food with anyone who is hungry, as an expression of that political message. And the city has now said that is now a crime.”

In December, Judge Thomas Lynch ordered the police to stop arresting activists for feeding the homeless for thirty days. Ninety-one-year-old Arnold Abbott was not charged, and avoided up to four months of jail and a $500 fine.

[Image via Agnes Kantaruk / Shutterstock]