Earlier this week, ninety-year-old activist Arnold Abbott was issued a citation for distributing food to the homeless in violation of strict new rules in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He warned that the law wouldn't stop him, and yesterday, he was busted for filling bellies yet again.
The New Times Broward-Palm Beach reports that local police apprehended Abbott abut 45 minutes into a meal he was serving on the beach, leading him away and issuing the citation. The cops reportedly swooped in only after Abbott—who has been feeding the homeless since 1991—began giving an interview to a local TV station.
The rule under which Abbot was cited was passed last week, and prohibits distributing food in public without obtaining a permit and providing port-a-potties and hand-washing stations. According to the New Times, church groups and other organizations believe the rule effectively outlaws feeding the homeless, because they can't afford the fees required to meet its demands.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler defended the ordnance in a letter sent to constituents:
We have established an outdoor food distribution ordinance to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our community. The ordinance does not prohibit feeding the homeless; it regulates the activity in order to ensure it is carried out in an appropriate, organized, clean and healthy manner. At a recent outdoor food distribution, citations were rightly issued for non-compliance with the process enacted to ensure public health and safety.
Abbott faces up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail under the law. Abbott successfully sued the city in 1999 after it banned him from holding meals on the beach, and after his first citation, he said he might file another lawsuit: "I'm going to have to go to court again to sue the city of Fort Lauderdale, the beautiful city. These are the poorest of the poor. They have nothing. They don't have a roof over their head. Who could turn them away?"