Fort Lauderdale

Protesters Rally to Oppose Fort Lauderdale Homeless Feeding Ordinance

Nearly 100 demonstrators gathered outside Fort Lauderdale's Federal courthouse Saturday, demanding the right to feed the homeless in any public area.

"The reason we’re not going to back down is because it’s so unjust to put people in jail for helping other people," said Rabbi Barry Silver, one of the demonstrators.

The feedings defy the city's ordinance, which restricts the conditions in which people or organizations can feed the homeless. Some have been arrested for violating the law, while others like 90-year-old Arnold Abbott have been cited.

Abbott addressed the crowd, saying, "I go for arraignment on Wednesday morning, and I have no fear whatsoever."

Demonstrators marched several blocks, at times stopping traffic, then served pizza to the homeless in an unauthorized location.

Fort Lauderdale mayor Jack Seiler disagrees with the demonstrators who say the ordinance is unfair.

"Our ordinance expands the number of locations where feedings can take place, and ensures they are carried out under safe, sanitary and healthy conditions," Seiler said.

Seiler said the city has partnered with several organizations to develop a homeless assistance strategy, which includes providing social services and housing.

But Silver says Seiler bypassed those like Abbott who have been feeding the homeless for years.

"It is true he’s making certain steps," Silver said. "But what he should have done is gone to Arnold Abbott and work with us."

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