Judge issues temporary ban on Fort Lauderdale arrests for feeding homeless in public

For 30 days, police are not allowed to arrest or issue citations to people feeding homeless in Fort Lauderdale

By Ben Kennedy - Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Broward County judge issued an order Tuesday that temporarily bans turning people feeding the homeless outdoors in Fort Lauderdale into lawbreakers.

Judge Thomas Lynch ruled that there were to be no arrests or citations for 30 days for violating the new city ordinance, which has been banning feeding the homeless in public places since Oct. 31st.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler was the target of hackers activism Monday when they announced "Op Lift The Bans." The hackers -- who engage in worldwide activism -- have also been critical of rules that target the homeless by banning panhandling and sleeping in public property.

Under the Fort Lauderdale ordinance, feeding sites cannot be within 500 feet of each other and have to be at least 500 feet away from residential property. Groups also have to provide portable toilets. Violators could face up to 60 days in jail and fines of up to $500.

The ordinance was also ridiculed on Comedy Central's "Colbert Report" for targeting 90-year-old World War II veteran Arnold Abbott for feeding the homeless in public, as he has for decades with his organization Love Thy Neighbor.

In support of Abbott's effort, there was also a hunger strike and several protests.

Rev. Mark Sims, of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, Pastor Sam Green, of Church of God Temple, and other religious leaders and homeless advocates from groups like Food Not Bombs and Peanut Butter & Jelly Project have been vocal about their support of Abbott.

Seiler has said that the city supports indoor homeless feeding programs for safety reasons. Abbott said he has a court order that allows him to feed the homeless on the beach.

Abbot was not in court Tuesday. He is scheduled to be in court on Wednesday for his criminal case. In the meantime, Lynch asked that both sides enter into mediation to try and resolve the civil case.

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