Crackdown on Feeding Homeless Gets More People Arrested

Florida city cracking down on aid to the homeless.

ByABC News
November 9, 2014, 6:03 PM

— -- Police arrested three more people in Florida for attempting to feed the homeless in a public place.

Nikki Rye, 25, a 17-year-old minor, and an unidentified third person were arrested by Fort Lauderdale police for violating a new city ordinance that restricts groups from feeding the homeless in outdoor spaces.

"I was laughing. I thought, you know, this is a sick joke," the 17-year-old minor said. "They can't stop us from feeding people."

Fort Lauderdale police arrested a 90-year-old man, Arnold Abbott, for feeding the homeless on a public beach on Wednesday.

The City of Fort Lauderdale Commission passed an ordinance on Oct. 21 that banned public food sharing. Under the ordinance, which went into effect last week, organizations distributing food outdoors would have to provide portable toilets for use by workers and those being fed.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler has defended the ordinance.

"The ordinance does not prohibit feeding the homeless," the city has said in a statement released to ABC News' Fort Lauderdale affiliate WPLG. "It regulates the activity in order to ensure it is carried out in an appropriate, organized, clean and healthy manner."

Although Abbott has been cited twice in less than a week, he has no plans to stop feeding the homeless, telling ABC News last week from his non-profit organization, Love Thy Neighbor, that the only alternative he has is to go to court.

Abbott sued the City of Fort Lauderdale in 1999 after they tried to stop him from feeding the homeless on a public beach. Abbott won the case three times in circuit court and twice in the court of appeals.