A judge has issued an order that temporarily bars people from being arrested in Fort Lauderdale for feeding the homeless.
90-year-old World War II veteran Arnold Abbott captured global attention last month when he defied a city ordinance passed in October that prohibited feeding homeless people in the city without permits and toilet facilities, effectively making the process illegal.
Police repeatedly issued Abbott with citations and video recorded his group’s feeding sessions, prompting a public relations backlash. Abbott, who has been feeding the homeless for 23 years, previously won a lawsuit in 2000 which overturned a ban on feeding homeless people on the beach, an outcome authorities claim is superseded by a new city ordinance which prohibits the sharing of food.
With the matter heading for mediation, Broward Judge Thomas Lynch ruled today that there could be no arrests or citations for violating the ordinance for a 30 day period. Abbott and others are facing a $500 fine and 60 days in jail if the city chooses to pursue charges.
The ruling comes one day after hacktivist group Anonymous took down the city’s website in protest against the treatment of Abbott and his organization, Love Thy Neighbor.
Other Pastors who have took part in feeding the homeless say that they are prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Abbott’s story has garnered global attention as it exemplifies the tendency on behalf of authorities to clamp down on any real sense of community that could help the more unfortunate in society become less dependent on government.
While governments are perfectly content to oversee a vast welfare state that keeps people below the poverty line or worse, the notion of fellow citizens helping each other out cannot be tolerated.
Authorities in Fort Lauderdale have said that the homeless can be fed, but only at locations pre-approved by city officials, proving that the issue has little to do with the violation of an ordinance and everything to do with making Abbott, his organization, and anyone who would dare defy government know who is boss.