FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Dean Trantalis held a town hall meeting on Monday to give people a chance to speak out about their city’s controversial homeless feeding law. Trantalis, who voted against the ordinance, quickly set the tone.READ MORE: Attorney For Key Ally Of Venezuela Leader's Nicolas Maduro Called His Extradition To The US Illegal
“We’re not here to fight hungry people,” Trantalis said. “We’re here to fight hunger.”
Then Trantalis, who has tried to get his fellow commissioners to stop enforcing the law that restricts homeless feedings outdoors in favor of indoor feedings, got an earful from homeless advocates.
“The sharing of the food is a stepping stone,” said Jillian Pim.
“We’re telling them they can’t eat, sleep, ask for money, go to the bathroom,” said Frank Pontillo. “They go to jail for one of those things.”
90-year-old Arnold Abbott, who’s been cited multiple times for violating the law against feeding the homeless in public, said the law violates one of the core themes all the world’s religions.READ MORE: Haiti Gang With Past Abductions Blamed For Kidnapping Missionaries
“I don’t know of one that doesn’t say right off the top — feed the poor,” he said.
Trantalis said the city is doing a lot for the homeless but can do more and he believes the commissioners who voted for the new law acted hastily.
“Should the commission have waited until there was a feeding place every night before passing this law?,” asked a reporter.
Trantalis replied, “That would have been a good idea. But we’re here now and I do think we should suspend the enforcement of it until we’re able to make sure that there is a place for every hungry person to have a place to eat every day of the week.”
One benefit of the law, homeless advocates say, is that it did create an opening for discussion on ways to truly help those less fortunate.
“It brings about conversation,” said Perry “Now we’ve got to make it healthy conversation. Now we’ve got to sit down and put down everybody’s personal agendas and say what do we do best for the homeless.”MORE NEWS: Miami Police Investigate Bomb Threat
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