Fort Lauderdale, FL has long been one of the hardest places to be homeless in America. The new tight restrictions over processes to share food with those who are hungry or homeless are just the latest in a long series of cruel anti-homeless laws trying to force the homeless population out of sight.
I am ninety years old and have happily prepared food to distribute on the beach and in the park every week since 1990. Since Fort Lauderdale began enforcing its tight restrictions over my work at the beginning of November, I have been arrested and continue to receive citations ordering me to stop my work. I now face jail time or a $500 fine for each offense, simply for practicing my rights to help my neighbors.
As long as there is breath in my body, I will continue to serve my brothers in the areas where they can be found. I’m not afraid of jail; I spent two and a half years in war. I am afraid of allowing a law like this to stand when each time they issue me summons they are in violation of their own state law (Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998 – HB-3201). I am trying to allow homeless people to have the same rights as everyone else. There is no rug big enough to sweep them under.
Perhaps the most important perspective to consider is that of someone who has experienced homelessness and generosity of this sort, such as Randy Mcquade, a Pensacola, FL resident who was once homeless himself. My co-author says, “As Americans, we should be free to feed, assist or take care of anyone we please with OUR food, bought with OUR money and distributed on OUR public land. Please sign this petition and let the Fort Lauderdale city leaders know that we, the American public, will not tolerate such laws that so disregard our freedoms and basic human decency.”
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