Florida Police Threaten Arrest Under New ‘Homeless Hate Law’

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feeding

Florida police handed out citations and threatened to arrest two priests and a 90-year-old veteran volunteer for feeding the homeless. A recently passed city ordinance makes sharing food a citable offense.

Fort Lauderdale police removed at least three volunteers, as well as the Sunday lunch they were serving to several dozen homeless people, citing a controversial new ordinance that prohibits food sharing. Passed in October, the measure was created to try to cut down the growing population of homeless people in Fort Lauderdale.

In video footage from Sunday, three police officers arrive and interrupt the feeding program by removing 90-year-old Arnold Abbott, the Rev. Canon Mark Sims of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Dwayne Black of the Sanctuary Church. A chorus of protest erupts from the crowd and follows the officers as they take the men to their patrol cards – “Shame on you, arresting an elderly man!” someone in the crowd says. “The whole world is watching!” says another.

Then, a police officer explains to the men: “Basically you are going to be cited for serving to the community without proper accommodations. Everything is explained in here. This is a citation. If you guys continue to come out here you will face arrest.”

The ban on sharing food is part of city officials’ recent efforts to cut down on the burgeoning downtown homeless population. The most recent law – passed by a 4-1 vote – limits where outdoor feeding can be located. It can’t be situated near another feeding site; it has to be at least 500 feet from residential property; and feed program organizers must seek permission from property owners for sites in front of their buildings.

Officials describe the new laws as “public health and safety measures,” but opponents have labeled them “homeless hate laws,” according to The Sun-Sentinel.

“We are simply trying to feed people who are hungry,” Sims told The Sun Sentinel. “To criminalize that is contrary to everything that I stand for as a priest and as a person of faith.”

The program is run by Love Thy Neighbor. Its founder, 90 year-old Abbott, is a World War II veteran and has served food to homeless people for 20 years.

The latest ordinance follows others in Fort Lauderdale that banned the homeless from soliciting at the city’s busiest intersections, outlawed sleeping on public property downtown, toughened laws against defecating in public, and made it illegal for people to store personal belongings on public property.

“I’m not satisfied with having a cycle of homeless in city of Fort Lauderdale,” Mayor Jack Seiler told the Sun-Sentinal, defending the law and its intent. “Providing them with a meal and keeping them in that cycle on the street is not productive.”

City officials say they are working to assist the homeless by providing housing to 22 people identified as chronically homeless, creating an outreach program run through the police department. Also included in the city’s new budget is $25,000 to give people a one-way bus ticket to reunite with their families.

However, homelessness and those who volunteer to help them is being criminalized in towns and cities across America. A report released by the National Coalition for the Homeless last month found that 21 cities have restricted sharing food with the homeless, and 10 other cities are in the process of doing so.

Back in February, officials in Columbia, South Carolina, began requiring any group of 25 people or more to pay for and obtain a permit 15 days in advance if they wished to use the city’s parks for an event. This requirement was extended to non-profit groups and charities, though their fees would be smaller. Those fees – as much as $120 per week – could not be met by some food programs such as Food Not Bombs, which has been sharing meals for 12 years.

Last December, a church group in Olympia, Washington, launched a battle against a City Council proposal that would stop an outreach mission that feeds hundreds of homeless residents every week. Although the City Council passed the proposal, the group still continues to carry on its activities.

The trend is to threaten citations and arrest to those who are trying to help.

“No sane, civilized country would do that. That would be as crazy as punishing doctors and nurses who are brave enough to fight Ebola,” said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York Coalition Against Hunger, to RT. “I think we’ve lost our collective minds. We’re arresting people who should be lauded and lauding people on Wall Street and elsewhere who should be arrested.”

“Look, there are public safety concerns, there are food safety concerns, and there are ways to deal with that, and do I think going into a park is the best way to deal with homelessness and hunger? Absolutely not,” Berg added. “We need living wage jobs and a social safety net. That being said, arresting people who are volunteering to feed their neighbors – if this wasn’t actually true you’d think this was the cruelest joke ever out of The Onion.”

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  • Maddog

    Have any of you taken a look around your communities? Have you wondered what happened to all the homeless? Believe it or not there are still homeless. The socialist, communist and liberals that have taken over many areas of the country have NOT solved homelessness they simply have made it illegal. Many have been jailed or placed in camps. Others are living in Obamavilles around the country.

  • sharonsj

    The Florida Legislature is dominated by Republicans in both houses and the governor is Republican. I don’t think you can blame Obama for laws these Republicans passed. Unless maddog below thinks all these Republicans are really socialist, communist and liberals….

    • Smarty

      Once you, Maddog, and the rest of our society finally figure out that there really are not two “different parties”, then we’ll be on our way to fixing this shit. The two party scam is designed to keep the sheep fighting amongst themselves….and sadly….it’s working quite well……
      There currently is only ONE party, and it should be called the “criminal/treasonous party”……

      • James Michael

        You nailed that one and Florida is a perfect example of that….I know I was born and raised there and left because the courts and cops are so treasonous and psychopathic…but then again, it is basically, to one degree or another, across the country with the standing Army of badged and armed fascist, ignoramuses, among us…

    • Maddog

      I didn’t say anything about repubicans or demoncats. I believe libtards and conservaturds are one in the same. Apparently you are the one making a distinction. I personally believe the whole system is corrupt including and especially the media. Unfortunately the only solution the clowns running things and the brain dead sheeple are leaving is an all out civil war. Don’t believe me just wait a little bit longer. Next time I’ll try to make it critical thinking proof ok.

    • Wayne Downey

      I am still trying to figure out how the legislature has anything to do with city ordinances. Do you even know how the governemnt works. As corrupt as it is, the state or fed levels have nothing to do with a city ordinance. And while your denouncing rebublicants, that stance projects your just another dumbocrat. Just another sheeple in the ranks. Sharon, might I suggest you do a little research, OFF the mainstream media adgenda, and learn a little something before condemming anything. We all know the political system sux a huge one and your just part of that problem.

      • NickRepublic

        Well said.

    • NickRepublic

      Really? From my research the Fort Lauderdale CITY COMMISSION (you know the ones who passed these city ordinances) ARE libtard DEMOCRATS, you know the compassionate ones! Do a little research next time before you spew your brain vomit.

      • James Michael

        Ordinances are rules for city employees on duty, were any of these people city employees on duty? No, well then, they had no authority to armed rob and kidnap them …No standing in the charges, or ordinances…Cities have ZERO law making authority….

        • NickRepublic

          So city police can’t arrest you for violating city ordinances? Your logic is a bogus as your assertion. City ordinances have the same force as law within a city. Ever heard of noise ordinances?

  • Justin OB

    This is another example of why governments need to be kept as small as possible. This citys government is totally out of control

  • TRUTH BE TOLD

    While there may be only one party many in those party’s have no idea of this….. Rep’s might hold the offices in florida this is a city issue.

    our homeless went missing couple years back….

  • Ken, Megapolis

    This is one of the few times I support gun ownership so Preachers of the Bible may defend themselves from evil people. The homeless may die in a cold winter without positive Christian Aid. And we are in the run up to Xmas. Other religions just want Jihad against non believers never Zakat which is 1 of the 5 Pillars of Islam.
    Theres your solution:- disguise yourself as Islamic Aid and the pigs will just walk on by.
    I am serious.

  • http://www.ecenglish.com/ Luciano Borg

    SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!
    If I was a Police Officer I would rather RESIGN than ARREST PEOPLE FOR BEING GENEROUS!
    Problem: UNFORTUNATELY homeless people exist, they are hungry, and they need to eat to survive!
    Solution: Feed the homeless, give them dignity and hope!
    Political Disruption: People not allowed to feed homeless people!
    Result: Homeless people STILL need to be fed, so they have to find a way to eat, any way possible!
    Conclusion: Homeless people will be “pushed” to crime!
    SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!