Ft. Lauderdale might have bitten off more than it can chew in its effort to stop charity groups — especially the man heading Love Thy Neighbor — from feeding the homeless in public places. On Tuesday, Broward County Judge Thomas Lynch ordered the city to stop issuing citations and making arrests for the ‘crime.’ Instead, all sides must enter mediation.
International attention was riveted on Ft. Lauderdale’s new anti-homeless ordinances when 90-year-old World War II veteran Arnold Abbott was arrested multiple times in November — not for being homeless, but for feeding the homeless. Abbott has done so for 23 years as head of the Love Thy Neighbor organization.
Ft. Lauderdale is getting an embarrassing amount of attention.
Mayor Jack Seiler expressed relief at the judge’s decision, saying:
We’ve been trying to find some amicable resolution. We hope that Mr. Abbott meets us half way. We’ve asked him to meet us half way in the past.
Much of Seiler’s relief is probably due to a couple of additional factors. First is the overwhelming amount of negative publicity Ft. Lauderdale has received. Second is Monday’s announcement by hacker activists that the mayor would be the target of ‘Op Lift The Bans’. The group of hackers has criticized other new laws by the city that target the homeless, such as a ban on panhandling as well as on sleeping and storing possessions on public property.
As for Abbott’s take on the situation, he expressed himself succinctly in November, telling the local news:
It’s man’s inhumanity to man is all it is.
90-year-old Arnold Abbott took Ft. Lauderdale to court in 1999 over the same issue.
The activist has been down this road before. He sued Ft. Lauderdale back in 1999 over the same thing — the city tried to keep him from feeding the homeless on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. Abbot won. After his November arrests, he said:
I’m going to have to go back to court again and sue the city of Fort Lauderdale – a beautiful city. These are the poorest of the poor. They have nothing. They don’t have a roof over their heads. How do you turn them away?
On Wednesday morning, Abbott showed up in court to defend himself against the city’s ‘criminal’ charges. However, prosecutors wisely decided to delay filing formal charges in view of Judge Lynch’s order.
Perhaps a solution will be mediated — but Arnold Abbott is certainly not down for the count.
Featured photo: whotv.com