Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old who was issued a citation earlier this week for feeding the homeless without adhering to new rules that would require him to obtain a permit and provide portable toilets, was cited again Wednesday night for the same reason.
Abbott since 1991 has made it a weekly habit to feed the hungry every Wednesday by the beach with his group, Love Thy Neighbor. Following his
arrest being cited Sunday, Abbott made his intentions clear that he wouldn't stop helping the helpless. He says he expected to be stopped by police again, and he was.
arrest run-in with police drew massive attention to the new city ordinance that makes it unlawful for groups to feed the homeless in public areas unless they provide hand washing and toilet facilities, get permits and feed only in certain locations. The ordinance was passed in October. Homeless advocates say this effectively outlaws the food sharing, because churches and nonprofit groups could not reasonably bear the associated costs.
For nearly 25 years, Abbott has been feeding the hungry through the organization he named after his deceased wife, the Maureen A. Abbott Love Thy Neighbor Fund. In the 1990s he sued Fort Lauderdale after he was ordered to stop feedings on the beach. A judge ruled that he could continue until an alternate site was found, and he's done so ever since. The city, meanwhile, has struggled to to help business owners who complain that homeless people drive away business.
On Wednesday, Abbott drew a large crowd of supporters and news cameras as he went about serving those in need in his usual spot on Fort Lauderdale Beach, behind Bahia Mar.
But soon enough, four police officers approached Abbott to lead him away. As they ushered him through the crowd, chants broke out calling out his name. Others yelled out "Shame!"
The Fort Lauderdale officers watched the group feed the homeless for a good 45 minutes before doing anything. But when Abbott began doing an interview with a Channel 10 news crew, the officers moved in and escorted Abbott away from the cameras and issued the citation and took his fingerprints.