It is no longer illegal to feed the homeless in Fort Lauderdale. For now, anyway.
On Tuesday, a Florida circuit court judge temporarily halted a controversial ordinance that restricts charities from feeding the homeless in public. The announcement arrived several days after the most recent arrest of Arnold Abbott, a 90-year-old World War II veteran who has for years run a nonprofit devoted to feeding the city’s homeless population. Abbott’s first citation occurred in a local park on Nov. 2 after police ordered him to “Drop that plate right now,” Abbot continued to violate the feeding ban. racking up four more citations, each carrying a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail. A court hearing for the initial infraction was scheduled for today.
On Monday, the group Anonymous brought down the city’s Webs ite and e-mail on Monday and interfered with several other sites associated with city government using a denial-of-service attack. In a video posted online before the attack, the group gave Mayor Jack Seiler 24 hours to lift the ordinance.
Though the judge’s decision comes as a blow to the mayor’s office, different elements of the city’s government may find relief in the law’s temporary prohibition. Nicki Grossman, president of the Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, urged city officials to do something about the wave of negative press, the Sentinel reported.
“It is not pleasant getting e-mails from people saying we’re not coming to your city because you have no heart,” she told the paper.