Back in March and into May, Fort Lauderdale was considering a new ordinance granting powers to police officers to take the property of homeless folks after a 24-hour notice as well as ban groups from sharing food with the homeless.
The ordinance even had tricky language that would have allowed officers to disregard the 24-hour notice rule if the personal property caused public harm or if it merely smelled bad.
Advocacy groups called the measures "homeless hate laws."
After two readings in Fort Lauderdale's City Hall, the ordinance was passed May 6, but it's unclear if there have been any reported incidents.
Nathan Pim, an activist with the Fort Lauderdale chapter of Food Not Bombs, says he hasn't heard of any cases himself.
"I haven't followed up about the ordinance and called any city attorneys, but I have been following up with homeless people in the streets, and so far I haven't heard of anyone being cited since it passed," he tells New Times. "To be honest, though, our position on these kinds of laws is generally that we're against them, but police officers do this stuff all the time -- they take the belongings of homeless people constantly -- and this is just legal covering-up after the fact."
However, a call to a spokeswoman from Fort Lauderdale Police led to some confusion. Detective DeAnna Greenlaw couldn't confirm whether any incidents had been reported and said the law was currently being looked at by lawyers.
"I am being told by our legal advisor that this ordinance has not taken effect yet," Greenlaw said in a follow-up email to New Times. "I recalled hearing our legal advisor inform police command that the ordinance was being revised and therefore not in effect, thus officers could not enforce the ordinance... it is being dealt with by the attorneys in the Legal Department within our City Hall."
"At this point," says Chaz Adams, the city's public affairs manager, "we have no further information on the status of the ordinance; however, we will be happy to provide you with an update if/when we hear anything from the City Attorney's Office."
New Times followed up and asked Adams whether the ordinance had ever been in effect in the first place. He didn't respond.
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