Reading bits about terror attacks, disease and sexual assaults in today’s news was already unbearable. And then my eyes caught this.
A 90-year old humanitarian got arrested for feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I re-read everything because I thought maybe it was some sickening fiction. No I had struck luck. This was atrocious non-fiction at its best.
Homeless activist, Arnold Abbot, the founder of the NGO Love Thy Neighbour Inc. was told to “drop that plate right now” by a police officer and then arrested. Who would’ve thought, Miranda rights for culinary crimes? Abbot has been feeding the homeless for over twenty years and despite the risk he is still adamant. Huffington post reported Abbot’s simple reasoning as, “These are the poorest of the poor. They have nothing. They don’t have a roof over their heads. How do you turn them away?”
The horrifying fact is that it is not just Florida, but a lot of other states in the US are also implementing this bizarre law. I already have a problem with laws against feeding birds in many parts of the globe. But this is an all new level of the ludicrous. The mayor of Fort Lauderdale Jack Seiler thinks that prohibiting feeding of the homeless is going to help eradicate homelessness. Sure, ‘starved’ people will eventually be ‘dead’ people. That’s one way to go about it. Mr. Seiler, while you’re at it, why don’t you set up laws against pain medication for chronic diseases like cancer and HIV? After all scientists are working to find their cures. Why waste so much time and money on making pain killers then? Please do something tangible for the less fortunate like increasing employment opportunities and education for them. In the meanwhile, let Mr. Abbot do his job.
I know almost everyone reading this will show disgust and shock. Yet what’s frightening is the fact that even though a majority of the population raises fingers, it is eventually a handful of people who have the final say. Economic downfall is one thing but a society where stray animals have more rights than humans is something else.
Back home, I can go out in the streets and give food to anyone I want. A dog, a cat or a human. You’d expect more from a super power such as the US wouldn’t you?
I am participating in the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) – November 2014. This is an awesome venture of Blogher.com. In their own words:
“Every November, thousands of bloggers commit to posting daily. But it’s about much more than getting that post up—it’s about community and connection. It’s also about honing your craft, challenging yourself, and taking your blog to the next level.”
I will write every day of November. This is my sixth post.
#NaBloPoMo – Day 6
Thank you for writing this and calling attention to the, in my opinion, deteriorating way the homeless and low-income people are treated in the US. I work with the homeless, and I live around St. Louis (I have a client who lives in #Ferguson, where the riots were in August). Some of the crap that is done about the homeless is absurd. I have a guy who gets harassed by the police: One night, he was picked up and driven about 40 miles away from the city, which had the shelter he slept in. (Not many shelters outside of downtown.) He walked all night long to get back to my agency for a meeting he had with me. I was stunned.
Wow then you have a lot to share on this front then! Have you written about this? I’d love to read. This is relatively new for me, because my lack of knowledge made me believe that such unfortunate people had more rights in places like the US. This really shocks me.
I haven’t written a lot about this on the blog. I tried to make it something a little different from my job, which absorbs a lot of *me,* if you know what I mean. I do mention work or my clients casually – try looking under the tags “homeless, homelessness, or justice.” I advocate for those of our clients who have misdemeanor charges in the city – we have a special court docket for them to try to connect them with services.
I’ll surely check out those posts. You are in an amazing line of work! Keep it up:)
There sometimes does not seem to be much “Humanity” in Humans. Gobsmacked at this, but unfortunately not totally surprised that it could happen. 😦
I know what you mean by “not being surprised at this.” I often feel that about most of the things I come across. I sometimes feel guilty that maybe I have become indifferent or numb.
Yes, me too. sad indictment of our times I think.
Yes, the usual banality is that “many would expect more from a super power such as the US” but the reality is fast changing and its really sad to see that a great humanitarian’s work is being affected. USA’s human rights record is quite appaling and to have this added to it, is really disturbing.
It all boils down to capitalism and commercialism, the economic crunch is making mist establishments behave in such sad manners, having said that, the harsh thought that someone is going to go without a decent meal tonight is not settling well inside my weak heart
You summed it up wonderfully. At the end of the day it is about MONEY. As cliche’d as that sounds, this is our doom.
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Did you see this? http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/11/90-year-old-charged-again-for-feeding-homeless.html?mid=facebook_nymag
This undoubtedly is going to be more disheartening for the already broken homeless people, who are deprived of their basic needs of life and are being looked down upon. Morality should stem from humanity; the sustenance of the human race should be of prime importance. It is hard to comprehend these law enforcing people with such blurred thought processes.
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My opinion is slightly different, but not less human. Police uphold the law and in this case no permit was obtained to serve food, he had been previously warned and ignored those warnings. Food service is taken very seriously, there are health issues involved that require inspection and approval in advance and he did not take care of those issues in advance so he got arrested, he knew he would.
That being said the police should have either stopped him as he was setting up in the morning OR waited until the food was served and arrested him then, there was no need to create a scene. The bottom line is that even well meaning 90 year olds are not above the law, lets hope he gets a permit next time. If money is an issue I have no doubt someone would pay his way if he can’t. Uphold the law, always!