Broward News

Fort Lauderdale Will Allow People to Feed the Homeless Over the Holidays

The City of Fort Lauderdale has decided to not look like the meanest people in the world by ticketing people for feeding the homeless on Christmas with a decision to not enforce its own outdoor feeding ban for 45 days.

As challenges to the controversial law move through the courts during that time, city attorney Michael Burke says the city is willing to informally negotiate a deal with parties suing the city over the ban, reports the Sun Sentinel.

Meanwhile, activists who have made headlines around the country for defying the ban by feeding Fort Lauderdale's plentiful homeless population aren't exactly celebrating the temporary relief from the ban.

Nathan Pim, organizer for Food Not Bomb's South Florida chapter, wrote in a blog post Monday that the city's decision to not enforce the ordinance for 45 days "begs the further, obvious question, which is that if the sharing ban is too crass and odious to enforce through Christmastime, how is the rest of the year any different? It certainly won't be any less fair, nor are homeless people somehow less needy the other 11 months of the year."

And Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old do-gooder who has been feeding the needy for more than 20 years, says the city's move is just delaying the inevitable.

"I do resent the stalling motion by the city," Abbott tells the Sentinel. "They know they're in the wrong. They know they're not going to win."

The 45-day decision was announced amid court proceedings Monday. Broward Circuit Judge Thomas Lynch issued a stay on the ordinance last week as more parties joined Abbott in a bid to sue the city. But city attorneys appealed the stay, meaning Lynch's stay would be lifted.

As Pim noted in his blog: "While Mayor [Jack Seiler]'s heart has probably not grown noticeably, his ability to understand the nuance of selective enforcement seems to have developed somewhat."