Don't feed the poor--in public

After a litany of bad news, sometimes a fella just needs to shop around a little on the good old internet for some happy news to restore his faith in humanity. If that's your aim this morning than you should skip the story trending today about Fort Lauderdale homeless advocates, two pastors and a 90-year-old man, arrested for committing one of the corporal works of mercy in public, on the street and all, where everyone, including children, could see them. Seems the wise town fathers had recently passed an ordinance aimed at curtailing the unsavory public feeding of the poor as a hazard to civic sensibilities. (Coudn't they have merely required that such feeding take place in three star restaurants?)

Here's a taste from a local news report on the incident:

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Police arrested homeless advocate Arnold Abbot and ministers Dwayne Black and Mark Sims on Sunday as they handed out food to homeless people in a Fort Lauderdale park. The city ordinance took effect Friday.

"One of the police officers said, 'Drop that plate right now,' as if I were carrying a weapon," Abbott told South Florida television station WPLG. "It's man's inhumanity to man is all it is."

All three face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine...The city believes the sight of the homeless is affecting tourism, nearby businesses and tarnishing the city's image...

I'm thinking if they were worried about anything really tarnishing the city's image, they would have spent a few more minutes pondering the likely public relations fallout from the arrest of a 90-year-old homeless helper. Were the hopes of city fathers for a "Where the boys are" remake dashed by the sight of breadlines on the boardwalk (full disclosure: I don't actually know if they have boardwalks in FTL, but they do in Rockaway which is also a beach so ...)

I've seen such before. The anti-hunger direct service group Food not Bombs has had some run-ins with the law in various cities in recent years because of its efforts to feed people on the streets where they live, and it has had some success turning the tables on such uncivil meddling with the corporal works. Perhaps FNB could consider dispatching a squad to Ft. Lauderdale?

 
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Tim O'Leary
3 years 9 months ago
No mention in this report that the mayor John P. "Jack" Seiler is a Catholic Democrat. I wonder if the party affiliation would have been omitted, if he were a Protestant Republican.

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