Broward Judge Thomas Lynch has issued a temporary ban on arrests or citations for violating the controversial Fort Lauderdale ordinance that essentially banned feeding the homeless in public.
The ordinance, which was passed in October, made 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. Homeless advocates have argued that this effectively outlaws food sharing, because churches and nonprofit groups could not reasonably bear the associated costs.
Violators were facing up to 60 days in jail and fines of up to $500.
See also: Hacktivist Group Anonymous Attacks Fort Lauderdale Websites Over Homeless Laws
The City of Fort Lauderdale and Mayor Jack Seiler have been on the receiving end of bad PR from activists and the public over the ordinance, which saw 90-year-old chef and homeless advocate Arnold Abbott cited several times for feeding the homeless on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Since the ordinance has made headlines, Seiler has received angry letters and has had protesters gather outside his home. Recently the hacktivist group Anonymous hacked into Fort Lauderdale's website in an online protest dubbed "Operation Lift the Bans." The bans Anonymous referred to are the new ordinance as well as the city's ban on panhandling and sleeping on public property.
Seiler has said he wants to work with Abbott and other advocates to find a suitable place for them to feed the homeless, but so far no agreement has been reached.
Abbott, who is also a World War II veteran, has been feeding the homeless every week since 1991 with his group Love Thy Neighbor. Despite being cited several times and facing possible jail time, Abbott made his intentions clear that he wouldn't stop helping the helpless.
And this is not the first time Abbott has had a run-in with the city.