Is Helping The Hungry And Homeless A Crime?

14 Nov


Arnold Abbott: the Police and the Politics of public feeding.
Picture source: Unknown


At first glance this story appears to be just another case of politics bullying charity, but not so fast.

This story should have been written a few days ago, but it was not to be, as I was once again up in Gainesville getting my  melanomas tended to.

Now it’s back to work this morning…

If you have not heard of this man yet, you will.

His name is Arnold Abbott and he is a 90-year-old advocate for the homeless and hungry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Arnold has for many years been feeding the homeless on the beach at Ft Lauderdale.

There are many who support him in his charitable endeavors, but as usual, there are also those who are very much opposed.

There are kind generous souls in many places around Florida and the Country,  who also do this, some make the news, others do not.

When too many complain, laws get passed and ordinances are put into place, to shut those who feed in public down, not just here, but  all over the country.

In the past ten years, the warmer states in America have been inundated with the poor and hungry.

And, as the economy went South, so did the homeless.

When providing food to those with none, there is always a risk of offending those who find it unpleasant, even dangerous to themselves, their families, or their businesses.

In the past in some places throughout the state, there have been reports, or incidents of public displays of indecency, or eliminating in public.

There have also been some petty crimes associated with these public feedings.

The list is long for each side.

The point is, there are simply not enough places to provide either shelter, or food for the current abundance of homeless here in Florida, which now ranks third in America, for numbers of  homeless, after New York and California.

The desperate come from all over the country to find relief here, knowing that for one, they will not freeze to death while being homeless and that there are more than just a few places to go to find protection from the situation they find themselves in.

When the two sides collide, as they are doing right now in Fort Lauderdale, is when the public out cries begin and many outsiders, along with the press, get involved.

Many people want the hungry to be fed inside, not out in the public view.

Does it make them uncomfortable in  this tourist rich state to see the plight of those with nothing?

Florida depends heavily on the lavish spending of rich visitors and if they are appalled or turned off by the sight of the poor and hungry being fed, it may hurt this state’s bottom line.

What is that old saying about  “walking a mile in my shoes?”

It only takes ONE big negative life impact to make any one of us homeless and hungry.

Which brings us to the story of Arnold Abbott and his mission in life and to honor his wife, of feeding the homeless and hungry of Fort Lauderdale.

He also works with and teaches the homeless and tries to help find them work.

Much to the great chagrin of city leaders and some businesses, this stubborn World War II Veteran is not going to back down.

As he said today, ” I have fought in the wars, and I know how to do this, I will not stop… long as there is breath in my body”

Arnold and his helpers, have been arrested, cited and fined for  “illegal actions on behalf of the hungry in Fort Lauderdale.

The Mayor of the city, Jack Seler, is in a tough place.

He must uphold the laws, to avoid an outbreak of charity feedings citywide, but he also does not like all of the really negative publicity the city is getting.

Being the focus of this heavy heat and intense scrutiny is not new for Arnold, who has fought against the city for more than twenty years to do what he considers God’s work.

Can anyone of us know with any real certainty, that there but for the Grace of God go we?

We must ask ourselves: Is Helping The Hungry And Homeless A Crime?


Places to learn more:

Arnold’s Group: Love thy neighbor

‘Chef Arnold,’ 90, Cited Again For Feeding Homeless In Florida

90-Year-Old Arrested For Feeding Homeless Will Continue ‘As Long As There Is Breath In My Body’

Florida Finds Tricky Balance Over Feeding of the Homeless

Arresting Arnold Abbott unconstitutional. He’s won in court 3 times, won 2 appeals.

Arnold Abbott keeps feeding the homeless: Charity or crime?

Arnold Abbott Re-Arrested 

Russell Brand: $4 Billion Spent on Elections, But Feeding the Homeless is Illegal

National Coalition for the Homeless



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19 responses to “Is Helping The Hungry And Homeless A Crime?

  1. sachemspeaks

    November 14, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    Reblogged this on sachemspeaks and commented:
    Florida weather at times is both a blessing and a curse on Floridians.
    The moral of the story may lie in the fact that, if we allow and find a way to feed inside many problems may disappear?

    • Gator Woman

      November 14, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      Thank you so much for sharing this story. Your thinking is absolutely accurate!

  2. Peter Schreiner

    November 14, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    And no attempt to reach a workable, agreeable solution for all concerned? The first answer from men seems always to be, kill it. Whether an act or a life, kill it.

    • Gator Woman

      November 14, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Yes, Peter.
      Many people fear what they do not understand or have not experienced.
      For the wealthy in this and many other states, that is often abject poverty.

  3. ivonprefontaine

    November 14, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    Reblogged this on Teacher as Transformer and commented:
    This article raises many questions. The one for me is about the whether we want to hide the poverty, homelessness, and hunger behind closed doors in wealthy countries such as Canada and the US. These are real issues and more importantly real peopled. They have faces, names, and stories.

    • Gator Woman

      November 14, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      Thank you so much for sharing this story.
      There are many wealthy neighborhoods in Florida and those who live there often act as if they are embarrassed by the very existence of the poor.

      • ivonprefontaine

        November 14, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        You are welcome. It was an insightful story with many questions challenging me.

      • Gator Woman

        November 14, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        I am truly honored!

  4. Yoshiko

    November 14, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    Personally, I have no objections to help the hungry and homeless.

    • Gator Woman

      November 14, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      Thank you so much!

      • Yoshiko

        November 14, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        Most welcome

  5. Mavadelo

    November 14, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Reblogged this on Mavadelo's mindscape and commented:
    This crap is happening all over the world. Helping those in need means taking away money from the haves and give it to the not haves, the haves are not willing to share and will find any reason good enough to complain. I hope one day this will change but I am not holding my breath for it. You might know the line “what would Jesus do” … Well…he would feed them (see Matthew 25 “the sheepsand the goats” and don’t forget to read BOTH parts of the parrable)

    • Gator Woman

      November 14, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      Thank you very much for sharing this sad situation here.
      We need so many more like him to change people’s hearts and minds in the World.

  6. Dr. Rex

    November 14, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    I can’t wrap my mind around this …. how can this be a crime? Just not right!!!

    • Gator Woman

      November 14, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      Now this story is officially ” out there. ”
      Thank you so VERY much Dr. Rex for sharing it!!!!

  7. agwink1942

    November 14, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    Beautifully written. I also wonder why people object when someone tries to help the homeless and hungry. Possibly because it makes them feel guilty for not doing something themselves? If they ignore it, it will go away? There but for the next paycheck go I? I’m betting on the last one. Too much “keeping up with the Jones’s” has them only one paycheck away from homelessness themselves, and they don’t want to see what it looks like.

    • Gator Woman

      November 15, 2014 at 8:46 AM

      You are absolutely correct on all points. Thank you!!

  8. emilievardaman

    November 15, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    This one speaks to me. I worked with street people for several years and came to love many of them dearly.
    Each day I saw the horrors of homelessness including hunger. I often brought food from my garden when I came to work and it disappeared immediately – and was spread around pretty well.
    I have also served food to the homeless and hungry.
    Now I’m retired and am not participating as I sometimes think I should be. But one thing is for sure: If my state or community ever passes a law making it illegal to feed the hungry, I WILL go out into the streets and begin to pass out food. I have never been to jail and don’t really want to go, but I would do so for this.

  9. Gator Woman

    November 16, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Yes, hunger and homelessness is a Global problem with no end or quick solution in sight.
    Each of us can do something to help, even if only in a small way.


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