Activist Arnold Abbott, 90, has been serving meals to the homeless on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for 23 years, but after the wealthy tourist town recently passed an ordinance restricting his efforts, Abbott has been arrested on numerous occasions.
Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd spoke with Arnold Abbott and we heard from Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler on his views on the issue.
Interview Highlights: Arnold Abbot and Jack Seiler
Arnold Abbot on the ordinance
“It’s totally exaggerated, this is a city with 1.2 million persons and it’s a very wealthy area. We have about 10,000 homeless of which they have shelters that can take care of about 600 and they want the rest to disappear. It’s preposterous to start with and to ask other feeding groups to bring port-o-potties which is totally ridiculous…we serve beautiful meals to them so we don’t have that problem. On the beach we serve right next to the only restroom they have in the city which happens to be right near where we feed, so that’s not a problem there. The rest of the ordinance is what gives you trouble because you have to have a permit. When we sued them fifteen years ago, it took a year and half for them to come back and tell us they had no machinery to give you a permit. They had no way of writing permits, they don’t do it.”
Jack Seiler on the ordinance
“There’s no attempt at all to sweep anybody under the rug, I think simply suggesting that feedings be done indoors at houses of worship or indoors at places that have sinks and bathroom facilities and things of that nature to provide a dignified a setting for feeding, I don’t believe that it’s unreasonable.”
This segment aired on December 15, 2014.
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