FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami)– The City of Fort Lauderdale’s new homeless ordinance went before a judge Tuesday morning–granting a temporary win for a homeless feeding group.
Arnold Abbot, 90, took the city to court saying that the city was in violation of a previous court order which allowed him to feed the homeless on Fort Lauderdale beach.
“I’m going to order that the enforcement of the ordinance is stayed for 30-days. No arrests whatsoever for 30-days,” said Broward Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lynch.
It’s a temporary win for Abbot and his group Love Thy Neighbor meaning Abbot, for the next month, can feed the poor in any public place without fear of police citation.
“My plans haven’t changed in 23 years,” said Abbott. “We’re preparing for this Wednesday, tomorrow and Sunday’s feeding.”
The judge did not rule on Abbott’s issue, instead he ordered both sides had to sit down with a mediator to hash it out.
“They didn’t want any mediation,” said Abbott. “The mayor announced last night that nothing’s going to change. Well several hours later it has changed, hasn’t it?”
Abbott is not too optimistic that talks will go well with Mayor Jack Seiler. “You reap what you plant and he planted all the seeds. He started this and he’s going to have to live with it until it goes back to court,” said Abbott.
Abbott and the others who feed the homeless, said they do it for religious reasons.
“The acts of charity in the feeding of the poor under the religious tenants is not an option. It’s a command,” said William Scherer, attorney for Reverend Mark Sims.
That temporary reprieve comes a day after the group Anonymous threatened to shut down the city’s website if it does not lift the ban.
In a preemptive move, the city shut down its own site Monday—a move noted by Fort Lauderdale’s attorney in court.
“It was going to be filed yesterday, but unfortunately our internet was down yesterday because we were attacked,” said the city’s attorney.
If the issue can’t be resolved through mediation, then it will go through court later this month.
CBS 4’s Ted Scouten tried speaking to Mayor Seiler about Tuesday’s court order, but he was unavailable due to regularly scheduled city meetings and court hearings.
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