Target: Jack Seiler, Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Goal: Dismiss criminal charges against three men for publicly feeding the hungry
A 90-year-old man in Florida is currently facing criminal charges for feeding the homeless on public property in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Arnold Abbott, along with two pastors, was arrested by police who yelled at the men to drop their plates as if they were weapons. The three men were given citations to appear in court. If found guilty, the men could face a 60-day jail sentence and a $500 fine.
Abbott is the owner of Love Thy Neighbor, Inc., a charity dedicated to helping the homeless and less fortunate in the Fort Lauderdale area. In 1999, he received similar charges, but fought them in court and won. This time, with the city’s new ordinances strictly outlining when, where, and how the homeless can be fed, Abbott stands less of a chance at winning his case. Despite the citations, the group plans to return to feeding the homeless within the week.
More cities across America are implementing unfair regulations that limit the public’s ability to share food with the less fortunate. The Fort Lauderdale government has recently outlawed sleeping downtown and begging for money at busy intersections. While the government says the laws are to help deal with a growing number of homeless people, these laws will do nothing but make the homeless less visible.
Rather than sweeping the problem out of the public eye, governments should be focusing on treating the cause of the problems, such as poverty and hunger. It is unfair to punish citizens for helping their fellows, particularly in areas where local governments have failed. Sign the petition below to demand that all charges are dropped against the three men.
Dear Mayor Jack Seiler,
An elderly man and two pastors were recently arrested for feeding the homeless on public property. They were cited to appear in court, where they could be sentenced to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500 if convicted.
Rather than helping the homeless, recent laws concerning vagrancy have only created an illusion of less homelessness by attempting to keep the less fortunate out of the public eye. These laws include a ban on sleeping downtown, a ban on begging for money at busy intersections, and more regulations on where and when charitable organizations may feed the hungry.
Where the Fort Lauderdale government has failed to address the issues at hand such as poverty and hunger, these three men have been criminally charged for attempting to fill the gaps. We, the undersigned, demand that these ridiculous and unfair charges be dropped, and that more effort is taken by the city to help the less fortunate.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ed Yourdon via Creative Commons