Fort Lauderdale, Florida – As we reported last month, the city of Fort Lauderdale has been arresting homeless advocates for the crime of providing free food to people who need it.
90-year-old Arnold Abbott has been at the center of the controversy since the beginning, because he has refused to comply with a newly imposed local ordinance against feeding the homeless.
Abbot has been a charity worker for over 20 years and has continued to feed the homeless despite multiple arrests and fines. In some cases, Abbot was back on the streets the very next day after getting arrested, only to be shut down minutes later by police.
Videos of the arrests went viral, and quickly caused outrage all over the world. Local politicians have been fighting to justify their actions, but have only made themselves look worse with their callous comments to the media.
This week, as a result of that backlash, Broward Circuit Judge Thomas Lynch suspended the ordinance.
“We’re elated the judge has entered the stay,” John David, Abbott’s attorney told reporters after the ruling.
The judge was responding to a legal challenge filed by Abbot after his arrest. However, this does not mean that the law has been abolished entirely, Lynch told the Associated Press that he wants the dispute resolved through legal mediation or trial by the end of the year. The judge did not give any indication as to which way the ruling would go.
As the case is being mediated, the suspension will prevent police from arresting people for feeding the homeless, but this temporary reprieve will last just 30 days unless the court rules in favor of Abbot.
Now it seems that even the politicians who put the ordinance into effect are backpedaling on the issue.
“We’ve been trying to find some amicable resolution. We hope that Mr. Abbott meets us half way. We’ve asked him to meet us half way in the past. We would prefer to enforce our municipal ordinances, but whether the judge was trying to take a little steam off the kettle, whether the judge was trying to give a little period of quiet during the holidays, I’m not sure what was the logic behind his decision,” Mayor Jack Seiler said in a statement.
This fight is nothing new, Abbot has been fighting against the city for years, just so he can provide this free service to his community. In 1999, Abbot was banned from feeding the homeless and successfully sued the city after a lengthy legal battle.
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he is also the owner of a successful music promotion company. In 2013, he became one of the organizers of the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.