Florida Senior Citizen Faces Jail Time for Feeding Homeless

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

In Fort Lauderdale, a city ordinance that outlaws feeding the homeless in public has come into effect. Violating this ordinance can result in up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Arnold Abbott, a 90-year old man was one of the first to be arrested and forced to stop feeding the homeless. Abbot was told to “Drop that plate immediately” as though it were a weapon, he explained. Along with the new ordinance, Fort Lauderdale has also made it illegal to sleep in public places and beg for money at major intersections.  The Florida city is just one of  many across the US that have been implementing anti-homeless laws. In a survey of 180 US cities, a third barred public “camping.”

The city has yet to realize that these “homeless people” are human too. Without efforts of good Samaritans such as Arnold Abbott, who do these people have to turn to? This brings up a huge humanitarian conflict that is forcing the local police department to infringe on helpless human beings receiving help (food, water, etc) and to arrest those assisting them. All this man wanted to do was to help others in need of basic human necessities, and is arrested as a repercussion. Commissioner Dean Trantalis explains “I think that once the full story is out and people see the entire spectrum of services and initiatives in which the city is currently engaged, I think people will have a better understanding of our role in trying to help the homeless in our community.” This statement alone contradicts arresting the people trying to aid the homeless. Although the efforts of the city may help with places such as soup kitchens or shelters, it still does not trump the act of an individual providing his own resources to help out a fellow human being.


Michelle Chen, “The City That Outlawed Free Food,” The Nation, February 2, 2015,  http://www.mediachannel.org/the-city-that-outlawed-free-food/.

Eric W. Dolan, “90 year old Florida man faces 60 days in jail for feeding the homeless,” RawStory, November 4, 2014, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/90-year-old-florida-man-faces-60-days-in-jail-for-feeding-the-homeless/.

Bob Norman, “Fort Lauderdale passes law outlawing many from feeding homeless,” Local10.com, October 31, 2014, www.local10.com/news/city-of-fort-lauderdale-passes-law-outlawing-many-from-feeding-homeless/29467552.

Student Researcher: Alexander Labossiere (Indian River State College) and Britton Gray (University of Regina)

Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College) and Patricia Elliot (University of Regina)