Support the Café

Search our Site

90-year-old Florida man arrested a second time for feeding homeless

90-year-old Florida man arrested a second time for feeding homeless

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?


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chris Arnold

Paul Bucklaw, you actually asked all religions and hierarchy?

Paul Bucklaw

I think it stinks. All religions and hierarchy should stand with him but they won’t.

I asked.


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.”

Tell me they’re being facetious! :-X

JC Fisher

Bob McCloskey

This has an all too familiar ring. In the 1990’s when I was rector of St. Stephen’s Parish, Coconut Grove, Miami the Miami City Commission issued an edict banning feeding of the homeless by churches, without a special license. The illogic was that if we stopped feeding them they would move away. One of my parishioners questioned whether that included Holy Communion.

We held an interfaith Vigil at the church [the closest church to City Hall] and then several hundred of us marched in a candlelight procession to City Hall to protest, which was a media event.[The then mayor and personal friend, encouraged us in our effort.]

The special licensing was rescinded and eventually the Homeless Coalition bore fruit and created a state of the art Homeless Center in downtown Miami and later one in Homestead, which many of us were involved with. Over the years hundreds if not thousands of homeless persons and families, have not only been fed, had their children schooled and offered an onsite medical center, but restored to homes and livelihoods of their own. I do not know the current situation in Ft.Lauderdale but the powers that be might spare themselves some earned outrage by examining what happened in Miami. Bravo for those leading the efforts to feed their poor. In the end they shall be vindicated.

Gregory Orloff

“If you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of threats…. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!” (1 Peter 3:13-17)

What a crying shame that the very voices that boastfully trumpet “America is a Christian nation!” are the ones that legislate against Christ Jesus in the guise of the poor and the sick (Matthew 25:31-46) and put roadblocks in the way of obeying his gospel commands to love neighbor and treat others the same way we want to be treated.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café