More homeless-feeding arrests in Ft. Lauderdale amid national backlash

Police break up homeless feeding at Stranahan Park

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It was another round of citations and arrests from Fort Lauderdale police who broke up a homeless feeding at Stranahan Park.

A 17-year-old, 25-year old Nikki Rye and a third person were among those with "Food Not Bombs" in trouble with authorities.

"I was laughing. I thought you know this is a sick joke," said the 17-year-old minor who was cuffed and taken away. "They can't stop us from feeding people."

Rye walked out of jail with a notice to appear. She said the corrections and police officers inside were also upset about her arrest and sent her off with the notice.

Officials said the group violated Fort Lauderdale's new city ordinance that places strict restrictions on where and how groups can feed the homeless.

Before these young people though, 90-year-old humanitarian and longtime volunteer Arnold Abbott made national headlines after he was cited twice for feeding.

The whole situation made network news and was even mocked on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report."

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler stood by the ordinance, saying it does not stop the feedings altogether, just makes them cleaner and safer for everyone.

The city released a written explanation which reads in-part:

Innovative Leadership Key to Addressing Homelessness

Let's set the record straight.

Contrary to reports, the city of Fort Lauderdale is not banning groups from feeding the homeless. We have established an outdoor food distribution ordinance to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our community. The ordinance does not prohibit feeding the homeless; it regulates the activity in order to ensure it is carried out in an appropriate, organized, clean and healthy manner.

While the ordinance regulates outdoor food distribution, it permits indoor food distribution to take place at houses of worship throughout the city. By allowing houses of worship to conduct this activity, the city is actually increasing the number of locations where the homeless can properly receive this service.

Volunteers and protestors said they will continue to feed despite the ordinance.

About the Author:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.