The City of Ft. Lauderdale officials are threatening to imprison a 90-year old for feeding the homeless on a public beach.
Ninety-year old Arnold Abbott, who runs the non-profit Love Thy Neighbor charity has fed the homeless on a public beach in Ft. Lauderdale for the past 23 years.
He’s been battling the town fathers since 1999. He has gone to court three times and he has won three times.
Last month, the City of Ft. Lauderdale Commission passed an ordinance banning public food sharing.
The ordinance requires outdoor food distributors to provide portable toilets on the beach. Yikes!
“We hope he feeds [sic]. He has a very valuable role in the community,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler. “All we’re saying is he can feed the next block over. He can feed at the church. We want them to be in safe secure settings. We wanted them to be in a sanitary matter. We [sic] them to have facilities available before and after.”
Less than two weeks after the ordinance passed, on November 2nd, Mr. Abbott was given a citation.
Feeding hungry people can’t compete with the porta-potty rule.
“One of the police officers said, ‘Drop that plate right now,’ as if I were carrying a weapon,” Abbott told ABC affiliate WPLG.
“God bless you, Arnold!” some in the crowd shouted.
“Thank God for Chef Arnold. I haven’t eaten all day. He feeds a lot of people from the heart,” said 56-year-old Eddie Hidalgo, who described himself as living on the streets since losing his job two years ago.
Good news though – they can lock up the 90-year old for 60 days and fine him if he doesn’t comply. I feel safer already.
To be fair, the homeless population are problematic and people want the homeless situation handled.
The ordinance is a tough call but putting a charitable 90-year old in jail can’t be an option. That’s nuts!