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Law Firm of Lindsey Daugherty | Denver, Colorado Attorney

Helping the Homeless Could Mean Handcuffs

Two pastors and a 90-year-old man were arrested in Fort Lauderdale for feeding the homeless in public. Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old, runs a non-profit called "Love Thy Neighbor" (you can find more information about the organization here: Mr. Abbott and the two pastors had prepared 300 lunches to pass out to the homeless just outside of Stanahan Park. The three were only able to pass out 3 of those lunches before being arrested. 

The reason for their arrest was a new ordinance restricting charitable groups' ability to feed the homeless. Mr. Abbott and the pastors are the first to be charged under the new ordinance. The ordinance specifically restricts groups from being within 500 feet of residences when passing out food, the groups must obtain a permit or get permission from property owners, and must provide a portable restroom. As punishment, Mr. Abbott and the pastors could face a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. 

This ordinance is not the first of its kind in Fort Lauderdale. Previous ordinances have provided one-way bus tickets under the "Homeless Reunification Program," as well as ordinances prohibiting camping and allowing police to seize personal property and store it until they individual can pay a fee.

Mayor John P. Seiler argues that the city ordinances are all done to help the homeless and that the newest ordinance ensures that "all of our public places are accessible and can be safely enjoyed by everyone." I am sure Mr. Abbott, the pastors, and the homeless population of Fort Lauderdale have something to say about that. 

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