Elderly man continues feeding homeless in Fort Lauderdale
Chef Arnold Abbott issued another citation for violating city ordinance
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Under the threat of another citation, Chef Arnold Abbott went about serving warm plates of food for the homeless who gathered Wednesday on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
The 90-year-old even tried to break bread with the officers who were there to stop him.
"Would you like some food?" Abbot asked the officer.
"No, thank you, sir. I appreciate the offer, though," Capt. John Labandera said.
And with that, officers stepped aside and allowed Abbott to get back to the work he's done for the less fortunate for years. He was told he would receive a citation by mail.
"What does this meal means to you?" Local 10 News reporter Carlos Suarez asked Deborah Fusano, one person receiving food from Abbot.
"It means thank you God that my stomach (has) something to eat because we've been on the street for too long and it's someplace you know he's going to be to eat,"
"It means a lot," she said. "I'm diabetic and I need to keep my food up so my sugar is under control. Every time I eat here I feel good."
Abbott was also reminded of two nearby locations where the city said he could feed the homeless and not break the law -- two sites including a church that agreed the feeding could take place, but just once.
"My feeling is that the police do not want to do what they're asked to do," Abbott said. "They're instructed to do (it). I think they feel, actually, embarrassed by having to keep giving citations."
Earlier in the day, protestors gathered outside the home of Mayor Jack Seiler, who supports the existing ordinance that prohibits the feeding of the homeless outdoors. It's a stand-off city leaders admit isn't going away unless an agreement is reached between both sides.
"It behooves us now to try to work not just with Mr. Abbott, but all the organizations that feed the homeless, to try to work together to find a solution," said Commissioner Dean Trantalis.
Until that happens, Abbott said he'll be back every week to feed the needy no matter what stands in his way.
"I'm not interested in playing games," Abbott said. "I'm here because the homeless have the same rights to the beauty and placidity of the beach."
Abbott brought food as well as a court filing, saying the city is violating a court ruling made back in 2000 that allowed the feeding to take place.
With motion in hand, the table was set and dinner was served.
Abbott made it clear Wednesday he will be back next week.
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