By now you’ve probably heard the story of Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old Florida man who was arrested Sunday along with an Episcopal priest and another clergy man for violating a For Lauderdale ordinance that restricts feeding programs for the homeless.
If not, here’s the story and an excerpt from the Sun Sentinel:
Arnold Abbott, who heads the group Love Thy Neighbor, said he had served only three or four of about 300 meals he had prepared when police ordered him to stop.
Abbott, the Rev. Mark Sims, of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, and the Rev. Dwayne Black, pastor of The Sanctuary Church in Fort Lauderdale, were each cited for willfully violating a city ordinance. Police issued them notices to appear in court, where they could be asked to explain their actions.
The ordinance, approved by the city commission Oct. 22, is one of several recent efforts by officials to crack down on the city’s burgeoning downtown homeless population. … The latest law, which took effect Friday, limits where outdoor feeding sites can be located, requires the permission of property owners and says the groups have to provide portable toilets.
Abbott was arrested again yesterday. This time police, who let him and his colleagues serve only three or four meals on Sunday allowed him to feed people for 45 minutes before stepping in.
Mike Clary of the Sun Sentinel writes:
As the line of homeless began to dwindle, Abbott insisted that several volunteers put down their serving spoons and move away from the food table in hopes that they would not be arrested or cited along with him. They were not.
“They were very gentle,” Abbott said of the officers. “I think they feel a little guilty doing their job.”
If convicted of violating the city ordinance, Abbott could be sentenced to 60 days in jail or be fined $500. He said he was prepared to go to jail, although he wouldn’t like it.
Here’s Slate’s take on the story: “Fort Lauderdale police are finally cracking down on the city’s notoriously destructive ministers and charitable volunteers.”
What’s your take?