Criminalizing feeding the homeless should be a felony

Friday, November 7, 2014

Good morning:

That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

To the rhythm of protesters chanting, “Hey, Jack, what do you say? How many homeless did you starve today?” the Fort Lauderdale city commissioners passed an ordinance at 3:30 am on October 22, 2014 criminalizing feeding the homeless on public property. ‘Jack’ is Jack Seiler, the mayor who is determined to drive the homeless out his city by criminalizing charitable efforts to feed them.

The ordinance requires groups feeding the homeless to be at least 500 feet away from residential properties and 500 feet away from each other. In case there is a city block more than 500 feet long, the ordinance prohibits more than one group feeding the homeless per city block. Those who feed the homeless also are required to obtain permission to do so from the nearby property owners and, last but not least, they are required to provide porta-potties for the homeless.

Arnold Abbott, 90, a second world war veteran and founder of the interfaith Love Thy Neighbour non-profit group, has been operating a kitchen in the Sanctuary Church and feeding the homeless for more than 20 years. Abott and Duane Black, the pastor of the Sanctuary Church, and another pastor from a local church were arrested by police for violating the law on a Sunday two days after it went into effect. Police stopped the feed just after it started thereby forcing the homeless to go without.

Undeterred by the threat of fines and a jail sentence, Abbott and Pastor Black vowed to continue the street feeds.

“We have been feeding the homeless for a long time. It is our calling and our duty to not let another human being go hungry. But now it’s a crime to feed a hungry person,” Black told the Guardian.

“The city says that it creates an eyesore; they are saying that human beings being fed is an eyesore. What they are doing is wrong. It lacks all compassion.”

They were arrested a second time on Wednesday and plan to continue what they are doing in defiance of the law, no matter what happens.

Mayor Seiler opposes feeding the homeless because he says it encourages people to remain homeless, which is like saying people who are paralyzed shouldn’t have wheelchairs because it would encourage them to remain paralyzed.

Now Anonymous has announced its support for feeding the homeless.

This song is for you, Mayor Seiler.

25 Responses to Criminalizing feeding the homeless should be a felony

  1. Kelly Payne says:

    such morals and christian values,just wonderful.

  2. Trained Observer says:

    LET THE WHINERS CHEW on this message from Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler:

    Innovative Leadership Key to Addressing Homelessness
    Let’s set the record straight.

    Contrary to reports, the City of Fort Lauderdale is not banning groups from feeding the homeless. We have established an outdoor food distribution ordinance to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our community. The ordinance does not prohibit feeding the homeless; it regulates the activity in order to ensure it is carried out in an appropriate, organized, clean and healthy manner.

    While the ordinance regulates outdoor food distribution, it permits indoor food distribution to take place at houses of worship throughout the City. By allowing houses of worship to conduct this activity, the City is actually increasing the number of locations where the homeless can properly receive this service.

    At recent outdoor food distributions, citations were rightly issued for non-compliance with the process enacted to ensure public health and safety. Contrary to what was reported in the media, no one was taken into custody. Had these activities taken place indoors, at a house of worship, they would have been in full compliance with the ordinance.

    Experts agree, however, that homeless individuals need more than just food. The homeless need shelter, clothing, and comprehensive medical and social services in order to help them get back on their feet.

    Few cities have done more for the homeless than Fort Lauderdale. We are taking a comprehensive approach by working with numerous agencies, non-profit, charitable and faith-based organizations that, like us, are dedicated to effectively addressing this complex and important issue. Our overarching goal is to provide a long-term comprehensive solution for the homeless population. While aiming for that goal, we are concurrently working to protect public safety and maintain quality of life for our neighbors, businesses and visitors.

    Our efforts include:

    Fort Lauderdale was the first City in South Florida to establish a dedicated Homeless Outreach Unit as part of its Police Department. This Unit makes approximately 8,000 referrals a year working with the homeless to provide them with access to housing, critical medical care and social services. The award-winning initiative stands as a model that has been replicated by local, state, and national police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country.

    Fort Lauderdale is home to the only full service comprehensive Homeless Assistance Center in Broward County. The Center has been operating here since 1999. Recently, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission unanimously passed an ordinance allowing the Homeless Assistance Center to expand its size and scope of operations to accommodate more beds and serve more homeless.
    The City maintains an active partnership with Mission United, a program dedicated to providing housing and social services to homeless Veterans.

    In addition to Mission United, the City maintains partnerships, provides resources and support to Broward County, the Broward Partnership for the Homeless, Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale, Salvation Army of Broward County, United Way of Broward County, Hope South Florida, and the Task Force for Ending Homelessness. These partnerships represent an outstanding example of how homelessness needs to be addressed – by bringing together a variety of agencies and organizations to collaborate, share resources, and leverage strengths in a unified effort to comprehensively impact homelessness through the coordination and delivery of essential programs and services.
    Fort Lauderdale is the only city in South Florida and one of 235 communities in the United States taking part in the 100,000 Homes Campaign, a national effort to move disabled, chronically homeless people from the street to a place of their own. Using the motto “Housing First,” the campaign reverses the traditional approach that required the homeless to go through addiction counseling and job training before earning a roof over their heads.

    Through the Housing First program, Fort Lauderdale is providing the most vulnerable homeless individuals with housing, medical, and social services. The program is funded by a $441,000 federal grant that the City of Fort Lauderdale secured from HUD. It is currently providing permanent supportive housing for 22 chronically homeless people.

    The City is proud to report that our initiative was recently re-funded by HUD. During the current year, we will have an additional $455,000 to continue to operate and expand this effort to serve even more chronic and vulnerable homeless in our City.
    As part of our comprehensive strategy, the City has passed new ordinances that aim to reduce the public safety hazards and inappropriate nuisance activities that are negatively impacting our community. As a City, we have a responsibility to ensure that all of our public spaces are accessible and can be safely enjoyed by everyone – families, children, residents and visitors.

    Our quality of life in Fort Lauderdale and our economic viability are directly linked to our stewardship of public spaces. The City continues to provide leadership in the implementation of innovative ideas to protect our quality of life while ensuring continued funding for programs and initiatives that address humanitarian needs.

    The City, our neighbors, and our businesses have a long and distinguished history of compassion toward those in need.

    We encourage those groups that are feeding the homeless to partner with agencies and organizations that, like Fort Lauderdale, are taking a comprehensive approach to this issue so that we can begin to make real progress – instead of enabling the downward cycle of homelessness to continue.

    If you would like to make a contribution to local non-profit agencies that help fund homeless assistance, substance abuse, and community support services in Fort Lauderdale, please visit: http://www.fortlauderdale.gov/give

    Again, thank you for your interest in this important humanitarian issue.

    Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler
    City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  3. Trained Observer says:

    Several years ago, Fort Lauderdale taxpayers passed a bond issue to build a huge homeless shelter just north of dowtow with a men’s section, a women’s section, and a family section where social services agencies are on hand to help line up aid. It operates well, and to this day accommodates those who are truly in need … who agree to eschew alcohol, drugs, and other unsavory behavior.

    The 90-year-old WWII vet, while sincere with his desire to feed the hungry, is being used as a frontman by a coalition of obnoxious self-appointed organizers of mostly white trash bums, freeloaders, sex offenders and other misfits.

    We had three homeless people severely beaten with baseball bats a few years ago by some local teenage boys. Had they been in the city homeless shelter or over at the Salvation Army, which also has a well-run shelter, this wouldn’t have happened. The teens were convicted, and are now behind bars.

    Public safety is important in this city, heavily dependent on tourism.

    The do-gooder groups conducting the feedings in public parks don’t clean up after their “clients,” many who come down from NYC when it gets cold. The “clients” themselves dump their Styrofoam plates, cups, etc. on lawns even with a trash can is a half yard away.

    Public urination, defecation, vomiting, spitting, and shooting up are rampant, as is panhandlig and d.

    The entire city, black and white, is united on the fact that these mostly white transients uninterested in civilized behavior need to move on. Pronto.

    BTW, Fort Lauderdale’s police chief is black, and the city is no Ferguson. .

  4. JJ says:

    OFF TOPIC: George Zimmerman update.
    Federal grand jury meets in Orlando to review evidence about Zimmerman’s motives in the Trayvon Martin shooting. So far, no one sited any witnesses for the case. Frank Taraffe has been directed to appear.

    “A Department of Justice civil rights attorney from Washington, D.C., Mark Blumberg, subpoenaed at least one person to appear at 9 a.m. Wednesday in that case: Frank Taaffe, Zimmerman’s former neighbor and until a few months ago, his defender.”

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/trayvon-martin-george-zimmerman/os-george-zimmerman-federal-grand-jury-20141105-story.html

    • SearchingMind says:

      What a news, JJ! At the very least it is quite encouraging that someone ‘in-the-know’ saw enough ground to constitute a federal grand jury (I did not know any grand jury existed in this case)). The wheels of justice might actually have started rolling again. Let’s hope they keep on rolling.

  5. MDX says:

    That mayor and those who made this law could use some religion:

    One great thing about Jamaica is being up in the hills and listening to choir practice vent its sweet music out of some humble church to dance across the verdant land.

  6. bettykath says:

    If the mayor thinks that the homeless are an eyesore, perhaps the city should provide homes for them. There are cities that are doing this. Shelters frequently become havens for predators.

    • SearchingMind says:

      Betty, in my opinion, the true homeless (i.e. the one philosophically/ideologically driven) is intrinsically a nomad; he abhors the idea of being caged/homed inside a four-cornered brick wall (called house) as a form of enslavement and immoral. The true homeless is the ultimate rebel who has freed himself from all the worries, hassles and tribulations of (daily) life; unlike the “normal” person, he worries not about anything except being alive, free and at peace with himself. The true homeless is a libertarian to the core; he detests any form of allegiance to any government and he feels himself not bound by any that imposes itself on him. The true homeless feels no need to contribute to society, he neither pays no taxes nor does he otherwise contribute to the collective fund, etc. but yet feels entitled to free access to most of the amenities and infrastructure made possible by taxes and other goodies society has to offer. The true homeless is homeless not because he couldn’t afford a home, but because he chose to be homeless in order to enjoy his G-d given freedom to the fullest. The true homeless folks are freer than birds of the air. I am jealous of them, but can’t figure out exactly how to become one of them. When it comes to where they should feed, I think they need to at least take some responsibility too – or should society allow herself to be guilt-tripped into surrender and accept all the dictates of the homeless?

    • Trained Observer says:

      Bettykath — The city has such a shelter, and a nice one, too. See post below.

  7. SearchingMind says:

    OT

    Prof., I have decided to forgive Prez Obama all the sins he has committed as POTUS for this developing story of a humble lady who might end up becoming the next USAG:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loretta_Lynch

    (I am always torched when the humble works very hard and rises out of nowhere above those who were born with a golden spoon in their mouth).

  8. Disappointed says:

    So they are saying homeless people are eye sores. Basically that’s it in a nut shell? Could you imagine the eye sore and stench if the homeless started dying of starvation. When did our country start turning their backs on their fellow man in need? Crazy. I did not think Florida could get any worse. Proved me wrong again.

    • SearchingMind says:

      Oh no, Disappointed, don’t be sad. I think the good Professor did not entirely do justice to this topic. My understanding is that feeding the homeless is NOT forbidden, but doing so in PUBLIC is. I think there is an issue of public order and hygiene at play here which is meant not only to protect the public, but also the homeless folks themselves. There are several homeless shelters in the city of Fort Lauderdale which are (largely) being financed by the local government there.

      • Actually, I specifically mentioned public feedings. Churches can still do indoor feedings, but there is a legitimate concern about getting to the churches. That’s why the public feeds in the park at the beach are so important.

        • Trained Observer says:

          Public feeds at the beach were stopped years ago, and not a moment too soon. Taxpaying residents are now demanding clean-ups of parks. (The churches, which pay no property tax, apparently aren’t willing to allow these low-lifes inside their structures for inside feeding.)

          The city has a large homeless shelter for men, women and families, with on-site social services aid at the ready.

          The low-lifes inundating this city in winter want no part of a regulated homeless shelter.

          The Anonymous message is beyond ignorant.

          Citrix is among the largest corporate entities and it’s well away from downtown. Fort Lauderdale residents are demanding that these transient troublemakers who come south in winter and are getting increasingly aggressive with park-goers, pedestrians and motorists be made as unwelcome as possible. They are a menace to locals and tourists alike.

          Communities along the Palm Beaches are busily passing similar ordinances.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      Unfortunately this abuise of the homeless goes on all over the country but doesn’t always get publicized. Even if cities run homeless shelters they turn people away and not all homeless can reach that location. That other groups are helping should be a good thing.

    • Trained Observer says:

      Fort Lauderdale has not turned its back on it homeless families. A modern homeless shelter was built near downtown within the past decade, financed by a voter-approved bond issue.

      Transients (many criminals with warrants out) are once again inunadating the city, and the feeds are creating messes in public parks and neighborhoods.

      Fort Lauderdale residents aren’t happy with unregistered sex offenders breezing into town either.

      There’s not much racial strife in this city, but if there’s one glorious thing that’s uniting all colors, it’s a desire to get rid of the mostly white trash intent on pickpocketing, pissing, and shitting all over town. .

      • There’s not much racial strife in this city, but if there’s one glorious thing that’s uniting all colors, it’s a desire to get rid of the mostly white trash intent on pickpocketing, pissing, and shitting all over town. .

        Your all-encompassing statement exposes a mean-spirited and unforgiving prejudice against the homeless that I find offensive.

        In Fort Lauderdale, Jesus Would Have Been Arrested for Feeding the Homeless

        • Trained Observer says:

          Read my post from Mayor Jack Seiler on what Fort Lauderdale has done to assist the homeless. That doesn’t count what Broward County’s homeless aid program. Plus there are 30 other municipalities, many with shelters for the homeless.

          Fort Lauderdale also has Women in Distress, which provides secret housing, legal aid/protection, clothing for job interviews, etc., to help battered victims escape their oppressors and make new lives for themselves.

          What Fort Lauderdale is no longer willing to tolerate is the wave of carpetbagger scum that comes washing down each winter. Since this contingent can’t take the heat, most disappear up north in summers. Don’t criticize if you haven’t seen it.

          One concern with the current publicity is that Fogen, in his zeal for attention, may show up to defend one side or the other, much as he did at the gun shop. Hopefully not, but if he does, this city is where he might meet his Waterloo.

          • Two sides to a story says:

            Still offensive. And the homeless do move around with seasonal changes. Understandable to not want criminal elements, but simply running people off isn’t the way to handle it, unless you;re ready to be run off when it;s your turn to _____ (fill in the blank).

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