Fort Lauderdale passes law outlawing many from feeding homeless

Law comes with penalty of up to 60 days in jail

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The city of Fort Lauderdale last week passed an ordinance that effectively outlaws several humanitarian groups from feeding the homeless in public with a penalty of up to 60 days in jail. The law kicked in Friday, setting up a potential showdown between those groups and police.

Micah Harris is co-founder of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Project, which feeds the homeless of Fort Lauderdale.

"When you go out there almost every day you have 72 meals and you keep these down to a dollar," said Local 10's Bob Norman.

"A dollar a meal -- a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, water, pretzels and a banana," said Harris.

Along with Harris' wife, donations, volunteers and son, Jackson, the project has not only fed countless homeless but he said also helped get 36 people off the street.

"Literally, they are literally starving on the streets," said Harris.

But the city of Fort Lauderdale recently placed restrictions on feeding the homeless in public that is effectively outlawing Harris from feeding the hungry, and that law kicked in Friday.

"If you want to arrest me for feeding a hungry person then arrest me for feeding a hungry person," said Harris.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler said that is exactly what his city will do.

"Just because of media attention we don't stop enforcing the law," said Seiler. "We enforce the laws here in Fort Lauderdale."

"So it's fair to say if they break the law this weekend they will be arrested?" asked Norman.

"If they break the law and it's observed by one of our law enforcement officers they are subject to arrest," Seiler said.

"I'm sorry that he's going to tell his police force to do that," Harris said.

"Are you going to stop doing what you're doing?" asked Norman.

"Nope," said Harris. "For lack of a better term it's atrocious, it's disgusting."

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