by Patrick Devlin

A 90 year old man was arrested in Ft. Lauderdale for violating the city’s new public safety ordinance as he attempted to bring safety to disenfranchised members of the public.

Arnold Abbott, a longtime Ft. Lauderdale philanthropist who created the Love Thy Neighbor charity in memory of his wife who passed two decades ago, was arrested (but not handcuffed, according to police officials) along with two local pastors, Dwayne Black and Mark Sims, for threatening public health and safety by ministering to threatened members of the public by providing them with food stuffs needed to keep them safe and healthy.

In sunny Ft. Lauderdale, the town supervisors established a series of regulations that people of compassion must abide by should they be moved to disrupt the public space with brazen and unrepentant acts of charity. The rules stipulate that if you want to give sustenance to the hungry you have to have a port-a-potty on hand and must keep the depraved act of charity from happening within 500 feet of a citizen’s home.

The rules were passed in a volatile commissioner’s meeting in late October where advocates for the homeless including Abbott petitioned the commissioners to allow them to continue thier unsafe practice of feeding and sheltering those in need. Abbott himself, in an act of civil disobedience, protested the commission’s safety-rule imposition by performing a “mass solidarity food sharing” – the public safety threatening charitable outburst was staged, shockingly, at the doorstep of Ft. Lauderdale’s city hall. Advocates for the homeless say that the regulations are less about public safety concerns and more about discouraging the homeless from choosing Ft. Lauderdale as their hometown.

Ft. Lauderdale has joined with other cities across America that are moving to stealthily criminalize the act of being impoverished in public by creating “public safety ordinances” that aim to characterize homelessness as loitering and acts of compassion as crimes that endanger the public. A trend that has been followed by the National Coallition for the Homeless who report that cities across America have established compassion criminalizing ordinances. These city rules that criminalize homelessness are in addition to the municipalities that buy products from the growing number of companies that supply “specially designed” public fixtures, such as park benches, that are built to frustrate the homeless poor in the US.

Ft. Lauderdillian Cal Deal, an anti-homeless-person activist who videotapes the city’s homeless to capture them as they threaten the sanitary sanctity of the towns streets, arguing for the institution of criminal penalties for feeding the homeless, stated that charity givers “are enablers” of the dispossessed. Deal said that these leasts of our brothers, “need more help than simply food.” In addition to providing meals to Ft. Lauderdale’s homeless, Abbott’s charity has given culinary training to 400 jobless citizens.

Police spokesperson Detective DeAnne Greenlaw told the press that self-styled ‘humanitarians’ can continue to distribute loaves and fishes to the hungry so long as they abide by the city’s new regulations. Greenlaw advised that ministers and clergy can distribute food to Ft. Lauderdale’s homeless citizens “at their establishment…if the proper facilities, as listed in the ordinance, are in place.”

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Arnold Abbott, defiant and undeterred after being arrested on Sunday, November 2, again attempted to provide food to Ft. Lauderdale’s homeless population on November 5 and was thwarted by local police, although this time he was not arrested but instead received a citation. Abbott told the press after his second run in with public safety protecting police, “I believe in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, and we should be allowed to feed our fellow man.”