Arnold Abbott, a 90-year-old advocate for the homeless, could face jail time for simply helping those in need. Abbott and two local pastors in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were charged with violating a newly-passed ordinance that effectively outlaws groups from sharing food with the hungry. They face 60 days in jail and a $500 fine if convicted.
Why is giving food out to the homeless effectively banned? The Washington Post explains:
It's the fifth ordinance passed in Fort Lauderdale in the past six months that sets restrictions on the city's homeless. In enacting the laws, Fort Lauderdale commissioners have cited "public health and safety," saying the feeding restriction will protect the homeless population from potential illnesses. [...]
The new ordinance states that indoor food sites cannot be within 500 feet or on the same block as one another. Outdoor stations cannot be within 500 feet of residences, and organizers must obtain a permit or get permission from the property owners as well as provide portable bathrooms on site. [The Washington Post]
Abbott says he is prepared to go to jail in the name of his cause. "These are the poorest of the poor," Abbott said. "They have nothing. Don't have a roof over their head, and how could you turn them away?" --Samantha Rollins