Two church pastors and a 90-year-old man were charged for feeding homeless people in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, under a strict new city ordinance that virtually bans private groups from handing out food.
Yes, you read that right. In the Bible loins (below the Bible belt) it is very difficult to help the homeless off your own bat.
Despite a looming court date and the threat of being fined or jailed for violating the ordinance, the men said they plan to feed more needy later Wednesday.
Homeless activist Arnold Abbott, 90, and Christian ministers Dwayne Black of the Sanctuary Church in Fort Lauderdale and Mark Sims of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs were handing out meals in a park on Sunday, two days after Fort Lauderdale’s ordinance took effect, when police approached them with their sirens flashing, Black said. The three were issued citations and face a $500 fine or 60 days in jail.
The ordinance — the fourth one that Fort Lauderdale has passed this year concerning the homeless — requires groups handing out food to homeless to be at least 500 feet away from residential properties. It limits feeding sites for homeless to one in any given city block, and prevent feeding sites from being within 500 feet of each other.
Ah, property prices! The Golden Calf of our generation. A clear example of wishing the homeless, the destitute and generally undesirable away from the shining citadels. There is of course another reason which I shall get to later.
Black said the threat of police charging them again won’t stop him and Abbott, who runs a non-profit organization called Feed Thy Neighbor, from handing out meals on a public beach Wednesday evening.
“As a Christian, it’s pretty clear,” he said. “Feed thy sheep. Take care of them.”
Fort Lauderdale police said they were aware of Black and Abbott’s plans, and said they had clashed with Abbott before.
Don’t they have murderers, rapists, burglars and such to deal with without nicking a 90 year old man and a couple of pastors for trying to help the interstitial?
Legislative action criminalizing the distribution of food to homeless people is picking up speed across the U.S. More than 30 cities have passed or are considering such bans, with advocates arguing that allowing ministries and others to hand out meals aggravates homelessness by luring homeless people away from city-run programs.
See what I mean by “interstitial”? These are folks who walk between the raindrops of government provision. Mr Abbott and his friends are doing an unalloyed good. What the authorities hate more than anything is singular acts of kindness that aren’t regulated and controlled by them. The fact that people are acting directly to help the utterly potless matters not a jot to them. I mean for the sake of God himself how the fuck can giving food to the poorest of the poor off one’s own bat be a crime? Of course it is if it shows up the dismal state provision for the sham it is and if it depresses house prices* for those who can afford a house. Talk about “I’m alright Jack” and pulling up the last ladder on the Zeppelin and twirling your mustache and cackling.
For myself I am disgusted that this is happening in a state I know well (from Panhandle to Key West) which I always found friendly and quite Christian. There is nothing Christian about this law. Surely, by any stretch of the imagination on a public beach giving away food isn’t wrong. It may be illegal now but legality is not the same as right or wrong. A naive person like me would regard a public place as somewhere you can do what you want (within reasonable law) but you decide to commit an act of charity there you find out who really owns it and it ain’t the people is it?
This is a fundamental libertarian issue. It is a marriage made in Hell between the house price fetishists and the statists – or modern politics as it’s otherwise known. It is hideous.
It is wrong. When charity can no longer be spontaneous we have lost something too precious to be measured.
All quotes from NBC but it’s been all over the ‘net.
*I seem to recall one of the major causes of the Great Depression of the ’30s being kicked off by a Florida housing bubble.