A new law in Fort Lauderdale, Florida prohibits any private entity to from handing out food to anyone. Under this law, two church pastors and a 90 years old philanthropist got charged recently. The minimum threat to these people is of a charge while they may also face some time in prison, and these men have openly declared that the law will not stop them from feeding the needy.
The 90 year old activist Arnold Abbot and the pastors of Sanctuary Church and Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church – Dwayne Black and Mark Sims – were first found giving out free meals at a park just 2 days after Fort Lauderdale’s new law was passed on Friday. The police on the spot warned the three men that they can face a $500 fine each or 60 days in prison.
Mr. Black believes that the government should instead encourage such acts instead of punishing. He emphasized that he would carry out with his plans to feed the needy later that day in an interview to NBC.
The actual law that Fort Lauderdale has passed is that groups that will feed the poor are supposed to be at least 500 feet away from residential areas. Since the law is to be strictly followed, the three men are trapped in nothing but a complication of the law.
Abbot currently runs an NPO called Feed Thy Neighbor and they had plans to hand out free food on Wednesday evening. His organization’s name is inspired from the Christian following “feed thy sheep”.
When interviewed, the police told NBC that they have faced Abbott and his accomplices before too; they had been told about the new ordinance before too.
Abbott is known around his area for being a very generous and selfless man who has dedicated his life to community service. Black went as far as to call him “Mother Teresa” of homeless people. He sued the city government in 1999 for stopping him and succeeded, and he would do that again if need be.
Black ended his interview with a thoughtful question that who is going to feed these poor people if the city is going to prevent people from doing so.
Apparently, the court has not given any date to the three men yet, which makes it more controversial. However, the city law such that of Fort Lauderdale has been implemented in more than 32 cities across the US on the basis that it wastes the government’s effort for the homeless if private parties are allowed to benefit them. Technically it might be a valid point but emotionally, it is definitely not.