Friday, November 7, 2014
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.