Despite being charged with violating a new law by feeding the homeless in Florida, Arnold Abbott, 90, said he’s not deterred and even went back out to serve more food at a public park, reports the Associated Press. The faceoff in Fort Lauderdale over anordinance restricting public feeding of the homeless has pitted those with compassionate aims against residents and businesses trying to protect their neighborhoods. Abbott, known as “Chef Arnold,” and two ministers were charged last weekend as they handed out food. the maximum penalty is 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
“One of the police officers said, ‘Drop that plate right now,’ as if I were carrying a weapon,” Abbott said. Last night, Abbott and others served a four-course meal by the beach as police filmed from a distance and a crowd of nearly 100 mostly homeless and volunteers cheered. Fort Lauderdale is the latest U.S. city to pass restrictions on feeding homeless people in public places. Advocates for the homeless say the cities are fighting to control increasing homeless populations but that passing ordinances doesn’t work because they don’t address the root causes. In the past two years, more than 30 cities have tried to introduce laws similar to Fort Lauderdale’s, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless.