FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (PIX11) — A community is backing 90-year-old Arnold Abbot after he was cited a second time for feeding the homeless in a public park.
Last weekend, Abbot along with ministers Dwayne Black and Mark Sims were arrested for serving food to the homeless in a public park in South Florida.
According to The Huffington Post, the three good-doers face up to 60 days in jail as well as a $500 fine.
“One of the police officers said, ‘Drop that plate right now,’ as if I were carrying a weapon,” Abbott, who has been cooking gourmet-style meals for the homeless for 20 years, recalled.
On Wednesday night, the three served food again while police stood by, video taping the event. Over 100 homeless people and some volunteers showed up.
Police spokeswoman DeAnna Greenlaw late told The Associated Press by email that Abbott was then issued a citation for breaking the ordinance. She said no one else was cited and police had no further comment.
“I’m grateful that they allowed us to feed the people before they gave us the citation,” Abbott said afterward. He has said feeding the homeless is his life’s mission.
Thirty other cities have passed similar laws to Fort Lauderdale’s in light of increasing homeless populations moving south for warm weather.
For example, groups need written consent to feed the homeless in Houston or pay a $2,000 fine. In Columbia, South Carolina, groups must pay $150 to feed the homeless in city parks.
Fort Lauderdale’s Mayor insists they must charge anyone who disobeys the ban, even Abbott. The Mayor says they passed the ordinance to ensure public spaces are open to everyone.
The city’s laws also include bans on people from leaving their belongings unattended, panhandling at medians according to Michael Stoops, director of community organizing for the National Coalition for the Homeless.
Homeless advocates say passing all these ordinances won’t help increasing homeless populations.