Target: Judge Thomas Lynch, Broward County Court
Goal: Praise moratorium on overly restrictive food sharing laws
A ban on feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale’s public areas has been temporarily lifted by a Florida judge. The judge ordered the Fort Lauderdale Police Department to cease all citations and arrests against those who break excessively restrictive food sharing laws until it can be determined whether or not the laws are constitutional. These strict laws mandate public toilets to be available where all food is served, and that feeding sites be at least 500 feet away from residential property. These restrictions effectively ban a large percentage of food sharing operations in the city.
When two pastors and an elderly man were arrested for feeding the hungry, the food sharing restrictions gained national attention. While there is a temporary halt on arrests, the charges against the three have not been dropped. They are set to appear in court while the ban is lifted, which may help their case. If found guilty, however, the men could face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Banning public food sharing is not the only measure that the city of Fort Lauderdale has implemented against the homeless. Panhandling at busy intersections has been banned, as has sleeping in downtown areas. Rather than working to reduce poverty and homelessness, these regulations only serve to sweep the problems out of the public eye.
Public food sharing programs operated by churches and charities are the only opportunity for some of Fort Lauderdale’s less fortunate to obtain a hot and hearty meal. Sign the petition below to praise Judge Thomas Lynch for striking down a ban on public feeding operations.
Dear Judge Thomas Lynch,
A 30-day moratorium on all arrests and citations against those feeding the homeless was recently implemented to counter excessive restrictions on public food sharing operations. Under a new Fort Lauderdale law, those sharing food must provide on-site washrooms and stay far away from any residential neighborhoods.
The food sharing restrictions are one of many measures taken by the city of Fort Lauderdale to make the homeless population less visible. Other measures include a ban on sleeping anywhere in the downtown area as well as a ban on panhandling on busy streets.
Food sharing restrictions place undue responsibility on those who want to lend a hand to the less fortunate. We, the undersigned, applaud your efforts to ensure that Fort Lauderdale treats its homeless population with fairness and respect.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Carstor via Creative Commons