Arnold Abbott Defense Fund
Pastors from two local churches and the 90-year-old leader of a long-established food kitchen were arrested at a park on Sunday, two days after the law took effect, for attempting to serve meals to homeless residents. Each received a citation threatening 60 days in prison and a $500 fine.
Dwayne Black, pastor of the downtown Sanctuary Church, said he and church members would set up their regular feeding station at Fort Lauderdale beach on Wednesday in defiance of the ordinance. He said he expected to be arrested again and to spend the night in jail.
“We have been feeding the homeless for a long time. It is our calling and our duty to not let another human being go hungry. But now it’s a crime to feed a hungry person,” Black told the Guardian.
“The city says that it creates an eyesore; they are saying that human beings being fed is an eyesore. What they are doing is wrong. It lacks all compassion.”
Despite the opposition of religious groups and activists, Fort Lauderdale commissioners, led by mayor Jack Seiler, have voted through a number of new laws this year intended to clamp down on the city’s estimated 10,000 homeless people. They include restrictions on roadside panhandling, sleeping on public property and the storage of personal belongings in public places.
The latest ordinance, approved four to one in a midweek commission vote that took place at 3.30am, effectively stifles any group-feeding project within city limits. Organisers must first seek permits or the permission of property owners next to the proposed sites, which cannot be within 500ft of residential property. They must also provide portable toilets and must also comply with state imposed food safety standards.
Opponents say the rule outlawing the public sharing of food is an “atrocious and disgusting” law. “The city is choking out every avenue for the homeless to survive,” Haylee Becker of the Food Not Bombs advocacy group told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “They’re all terrible ordinances, but together they’re a death sentence.”
According to observers of anti-homeless legislation countrywide, Fort Lauderdale is following other municipalities in an increasingly popular direction. The National Coalition for the Homeless reported last month that at least 31 cities had passed bans or restrictions on food sharing, or were acting to do so.
“These laws disregard the first amendment right of religious organisations to exercise their faith and assist their less fortunate neighbours,” NCH community organiser Michael Stoops said in conclusion to a 29-page report on the criminalisation of feeding the homeless.
“Budget cuts and criminalisation efforts are misdirected, narrow in scope, and neglect to make long-term policy changes that work to eradicate homelessness.”
City officials in Fort Lauderdale, however, insist the new laws were necessary to maintain public health and safety. Mayor Seiler told reporters that anybody who defied the ordinances could expect to be arrested.
“Just because of media attention, we don’t stop enforcing the law. We enforce the laws here in Fort Lauderdale,” he said.
One of those cited by police on Sunday, Arnold Abbott, 90, a second world war veteran and founder of the interfaith Love Thy Neighbour non-profit group, said he would continue to try to feed Fort Lauderdale’s homeless and planned to file a lawsuit against the city to try to get the ordinance overturned.
“I know I will be arrested again, I’m prepared for that,” he told Fox News. “I am my brother’s keeper and what they are doing is just heartless. They are trying to sweep the poorest of the poor under the rug.”
Black, the Fort Lauderdale pastor, said he expected to arrive at the beach later on Wednesday to find police waiting for the church group. “They were already there at the park on Sunday with lights flashing. We’d handed out four or five platefuls and they demanded we put our utensils down and come with them,” he said.
Damon, your donation is now complete.
Confirmation number: 3RU08159HP549173F. An email with your donation details has been sent to you and you can print your donation receipt.
Confirmation number: 3RU08159HP549173F
Donation amount: $1,475.92 USD
Total: $1,475.92 USD
Purpose: Love Thy Neighbor Fund
Donations coordinator contact information:
Mauren A Abbott Love Thy Neighbor Fund
Thank you once again for your help in assisting Arnold Abbott and his life's work with Love Thy Neighbor. This will be the final update and should serve to close out this particular fundraiser. If any further information or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me through this website.
"We have currently stopped donations to Mr. Abbott's campaign. Refunds will be given upon request - please write into email@example.com to request those refunds. We will be withdrawing and handing all remaining donations to Mr. Abbott within the next week."
Please note, if you request a refund it will take up to 5 days to process. I will wait until the 20th of November before transferring any remaining funds to Mr. Arnold's non-profit, http://lovethyneighbor.org/about-us/mission/ via PayPal
After transfer of remaining funds, less refunds requested and gofundme charges, the total transferred will be posted here along with a copy of the digital receipt received from Mr. Arnold's non-profit.
To summarize, if you would like your donations to go to the non-profit, Love Thy Neighbor, you can leave them on this fundraiser site and the money will be transferred on 11/20/2014. If you prefer to get a refund and donate directly yourself, you can follow the instructions laid out above. Any money still in this fundraiser account as of 11/20/2014 will not be refunded and will be transferred to Love Thy Neighbor.
Thanks again for helping!
"I am not requesting any funds in regards to our fight with the city of Fort Lauderdale. Those who feel compelled to participate in the financial process can only send contributions to Love Thy Neighbor.org or to our LTN pay pal account. In this manner the proper documentation can be maintained and you can receive a tax deduction."
As such I am ending the fundraiser I had started when this situation first hit the news service. My concern as an accountant was that Arnold and others who were cited would not be able to draw money from the non-profit in order to pay for legal fees and fines since their actions were taken knowingly in violation of the law (an unjust one certainly). Since Arnold has evidently received some assurances that this is not an issue, or has made other arrangements to pay these fines/fees I certainly do not want to continue fundraising for a purpose that is in contradiction to his wishes. Please ensure that your future donations make it directly to where Arnold has requested, that being the url at: http://lovethyneighbor.org/about-us/mission/
I am not requesting any funds in regards to our fight with the city of Fort Lauderdale. Those who feel compelled to participate in the financial process can only send contributions to Love Thy Neighbor.org or to our LTN pay pal account. In this manner the proper documentation can be maintained and you can receive a tax deduction.
Thank you so much for helping my friend and mentor Arnold. We appreciate you and look forward to meeting you on the beach.
Damon Wells, Simply put, Thank You.
Dear Damon Wells. So glad there are some people who try to at least alleviate the consequences of the ruling madness. Thank you. Wish this fund raiser to be successful soon. Best wishes. Peace.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE TO MR. ARNOLD ABBOTT'S ORGANIZATION "LOVE THY NEIGHBOR" YOU CAN DO SO DIRECTLY THROUGH THIS LINK TO HELP HIM WITH THE RESOURCES HE NEEDS TO CONTINUE FEEDING THE HOMELESS http://lovethyneighbor.org/how-to-help/