To Arnold Abbott, feeding the homeless in a public park in South Florida was an act of charity. To the city of Fort Lauderdale, the 90-year-old man in white chef’s apron serving up gourmet-styled meals was committing a crime.
Arnold Abbott prepares hundreds of meals each week for the homeless in the kitchen of the Sanctuary Church.
“I fully believe that I am my brother’s keeper. Love they neighbor as thy self,” he says.
But Abbott’s work now has him in trouble with the law.
He faces possible jail time and a $500 fine for feeding the homeless after he was charged Sunday with violating a new ordinance that virtually outlaws groups from sharing food with the hungry in the city.
Abbott recalls, “One of police officers came over and said ‘Drop that plate right now,’ as if I was carrying a weapon. ”
Also charged was a minister from Coral Springs and Sanctuary Church pastor, Wayne Black.
Pastor Black says, “We believe very strongly that Jesus taught us that we are to feed his sheep.”
Mayor Jack Seiler warned arrests were coming, “We enforce the laws here in Fort Lauderdale.”
Back in 1999 Abbott sued the city for banning him from feeding homeless on beach, a lawsuit he won.
Abbott says, “I’m going to have to go to court again to sue the city of Fort Lauderdale, the beautiful city. These are the poorest of the poor. They have nothing. Don’t have a roof over their head, and who could turn them away?”
Abbott plans on firing up his stoves again on Wednesday when he has another food sharing plan for the beach. He says he doesn’t want to be arrested but he’s prepared for the possibility.