“I fully believe that I am my brother’s keeper.” That’s 90-year-old Arnold Abbott, a homeless-rights activist from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who’s now facing jail time for the crime of feeding the city’s homeless.
A new ordinance in the city effectively bans groups from feeding the homeless in public areas and on Sunday, police charged two ministers and Abbott under it. They could face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for the “crime.”
“One of the police officers came over and said, ‘Drop that plate right now,’ as if I was carrying a weapon,” Abbott told Ft. Lauderdale CNN affiliate WPLG.
In 1999, Abbott sued the city for banning him from feeding the homeless on the area’s beach – and won. “I’m going to have to go to court again to sue the city of Fort Lauderdale,” said Abbott, who serves hundreds of meals for the homeless in the local Sanctuary Church kitchen every week. “These are the poorest of the poor,” he continued. “They have nothing. Don’t have a roof over their head[s], and who could turn them away?”
Mayor Jack Seiler warned that the city wouldn’t relent: “We enforce the laws here in Fort Lauderdale.”
In Abbott’s words: “It’s man’s inhumanity to man.”
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