FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Arnold Abbott, a fierce advocate for the homeless population in South Florida, has died at the age of 94.
Abbott was a familiar presence in or near Fort Lauderdale Beach for decades as he fed the homeless despite laws that prohibited his actions.
As the director of the Love They Neighbor Fund, Abbott was arrested in 2015 by Fort Lauderdale police officers for violating the city's feeding ban. At the time, Abbott said he would go to jail before he stopped feedling the homeless.
Heavy media attention following Abbott's arrest led to massive support for his cause. However, in recent years, as his health deteriorated, Abbott's nonprofit began to struggle with donations, as well people from within who he claims had stolen from the organization.
Even as donations decreased, Abbott vowed to keep helping those who are overlooked in the community, no matter the cost.
"Well, I'll go sell my blood and whatever else I can do to keep going," Abbott said in 2017. "I'll keep doing it for as long as there's breath in my body."
Upon hearing of Abbott's death, those who worked with him to feed the homeless shared their thoughts.
"Words like 'icon' and 'hero' are often tossed about for their rhetorical power, but both titles truly suited Arnold." said Jeff Weinberger of the October 22nd Alliance to End Homelessness.
"Truly, his greatest legacy is that to move forward, the essential elements are to struggle and to never back down in the face of injustice. We need that in our world now more than ever. I'm going to miss him a lot."