FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Around 5:15 on Friday afternoon several Fort Lauderdale Police officers walked into a gazebo at Stranahan Park where the group Food Not Bombs was feeding the homeless. The officers made it known that the feeding would have to stop.
“You need a permit from the city to conduct something like this and go ahead and cease the feeding,” said one of the officers.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler said several of the volunteers from Food Not Bombs refused to provide their ID or obstructed justice. One was arrested and two others were given citations.
“The fact I’m being arrested right now is showing how ridiculous this is,” said volunteer Nikki Rye, while handcuffed.
“I think people are going to bed hungry because of these people right here,” said volunteer Damien Gabriel, also in handcuffs.
Volunteers carted away the food and shut down the feeding. Volunteer James Dunson showed CBS 4 News his citation for City Food Distribution.
“It’s going to take more than jail or the threat of jail to stop us from being kind to people in need,” Dunson said.
It’s a scene that’s been repeated in Fort Lauderdale this week as 90 year old Chef Arnold Abbott was also cited for feeding the homeless in the city.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler says Food Not Bombs could have set up their feeding according to the new law but chose not to.
“What surprises me is obviously they could feed legally just a few blocks away from there,” Seiler said. “They could feed legally in numerous locations in downtown Fort Lauderdale. So, it’s clear that their intent was just simply to violate the ordinance.”
Seiler says he’s proud of the work the city has done for the homeless in terms of police outreach, housing and providing social services but he says the feedings belong inside and there are numerous houses of worship doing so.
“Feedings should be indoor,” Seiler said. “Feedings should be in a safe, sanitary, secure setting. Feedings ought to be done in an area where there are facilities available for those that want to eat.”
The members of Food Not Bombs told CBS 4 News they will continue feeding the homeless at the park. At least one person from the group told me she is on a hunger strike until this ordinance is repealed or relaxed.
But the city’s Mayor said they plansto press on with enforcing the new ordinance outlawing public feedings.
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