Homeless Advocates Call for Support of Arnold Abbott, 90-Year-Old Cited for Feeding the Homeless in Fort Lauderdale
Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old homeless advocate who was cited earlier this week for feeding the homeless, and could be facing jail time, is planning on returning to his old spot in Fort Lauderdale to continue breaking the law by feeding the hungry.
Abbott, along with three others, was cited Sunday by Fort Lauderdale Police for violating a new city ordinance that restricts groups from feeding the homeless in public areas.
Abbott, who has been feeding the city's homeless since 1991, made news as the face of the first person to be cited for violating the ordinance, which was passed in late October.
But this isn't the first time Abbott has had a run-in with the law preventing him from helping the helpless, and he's already made it clear he plans to keep to his weekly routine of feeding the homeless on Wednesdays on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Another homeless advocate, Matheau Moore, has taken to Facebook to encourage others to begin pooling funds for Abbott's eventual second arrest Wednesday evening.
"I would like to encourage other sharing groups to begin preparations to organize legal fund collections for Mr. Abbott who, if he is arrested again this evening when he has declared his intention to show up on the beach to distribute food, will face 4 months in jail and a $1,000 fine," Moore wrote on his Facebook page.
Moore also says he spoke to Abbott and posted this update as well:
"I know that I will be arrested again, and I am prepared for that," Abbott said by phone from his office at Love Thy Neighbor Inc., a nonprofit he established in honor of his wife, Maureen, after her death in a car accident 23 years ago. "I am my brother's keeper, and what they are doing is just heartless."
Moore is hoping to spread the word of Abbott's intentions of feeding the homeless Wednesday in light of eight members of the homeless advocate group Food Not Bombs also being arrested.
On Tuesday, the eight were taken by police after they refused to leave the office of Chris Wren, executive director of Fort Lauderdale's Downtown Development Authority.
The group claim that they were told they could wait for Wren to show up and meet with them. But after someone called police, they were arrested.
For his part, Wren claims that one of the member of the group threatened his assistant.
"God bless" the protesters, and "America was founded on" protest, Wren told New Times on Tuesday. But, he added, the protesters "took it a little to the extreme" and they "threatened my staff; they were freaked out and said, 'We've got to lock the door.'"
As for Abbott showing up to his weekly 5:30 feeding of the homeless, Food Not Bombs' Jeff Weinberger -- who reported on Abbott's arrest for New Times -- says he's not sure if the 90-year-old will keep to his schedule but encourages people to show their support anyway.
"I'm not certain that Arnold Abbott plans on doing his regular Wednesday-night sharing tonight across from Bahia Mar on Fort Lauderdale Beach at 5:30 p.m.," he says. "But show up to support and bear witness and you'll find out. In other words, BE THERE!"
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.