Arnold Abbott made good on his promise to continue to defy the city of Fort Lauderdale’s ordinance against feeding the homeless.
Abbott, 90, held another feeding of the homeless on Fort Lauderdale Beach Wednesday just hours after protesters took the fight to Mayor Jack Seiler’s home.
After the feeding was over, Captain John Labandera actually apologized as he told Abbott he’d be getting another summons in the mail. Abbott replied by asking the captain if he’d like a plate of food as well.
“No thank you sir, I appreciate the offer,” Labandera replied. “If you were to go to the aquatics center and serve me, I would take it right there.”
Abbott’s Wednesday feeding was attended by dozens of people and about as many media members covering the story that has gone viral. Abbott’s already been cited multiple times for feeding the homeless outdoors and he was issued another citation during his Wednesday feeding.
Mayor Seiler has said previously the ordinance is for sanitary and security reasons. Seiler made an offer Tuesday of the city’s aquatic complex across the street from the beach as an alternate feeding site for Abbot.
“When he did not take us up on the offer yesterday to use the aquatic center, you begin to wonder is the issue about feeding the homeless or is there some other agenda here?” Mayor Seiler said.
The city of Fort Lauderdale issued a release Wednesday saying not only had they offered the aquatic complex, but had also offered the Church by the Sea at 2700 Mayan Drive to Abbott and the group “Love Thy Neighbor.” The group rejected both offers.
Abbott’s group is fighting back in court. Earlier Wednesday the group filed a motion asking a judge to enforce an injunction from 14 years ago that allowed him to conduct his feedings at the beach, which are now banned by the new ordinance.
“It’s just wrong to try to keep someone like Mr. Abbott from doing what he thinks is his life’s calling, which is to feed people who are hungry,” said supporter Jim Lewis.
“I’m not interested in playing games,” Abbott said. “The homeless have the same right to the beauty and placidity of our beach as anyone who comes here from Sweden and Zambia. Anybody can use the beach except for one group, the homeless, and that’s what I’m fighting for.”