Two ministers, 90-year-old man arrested for feeding the homeless

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Arrested for feeding the homeless
A 90-year-old man could face up to 60-days in jail for feeding the homeless

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (KABC) -- Two ministers and a 90-year-old man face up to 60 days in jail for feeding the homeless, WPLG-TV reports.

A new ordinance in the City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, doesn't make it a crime to feed the homeless, but it does limit where outdoor feeding sites can be located, The Sun-Sentinel reports. It also requires a permit from the city, permission of property owners and states the groups have to provide portable toilets.

Arnold Abbott was one of the first to be arrested under the new law when he tried to feed hundreds of homeless people outside his church.

"One of the police officers came over and said 'Drop that plate right now,' as if I was carrying a weapon," Abbott said.

Police also arrested and charged two ministers at the event. All three face a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail for sharing food with the hungry.

The city's mayor stands by the law saying its an effective way to combat Fort Lauderdale's growing homeless population.

"I'm not satisfied with having a cycle of homeless in city of Fort Lauderdale," Seiler told the Sun-Sentinel. "Providing them with a meal and keeping them in that cycle on the street is not productive."

"These are the poorest of the poor. They have nothing. Don't have a roof over their head, and who could turn them away?" Abbott argues.

Abbott plans to fight the law. He's done so in the past and won. In 1999, Abbott sued the city and won when it banned him from feeding homeless people on the beach.