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Homeless Feeding Battle Continues In Fort Lauderdale

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) –  Amid the battle over feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, the city has offered a 90-year old man who's been feeding the homeless another option.

City officials made Abbott an offer Tuesday allowing him the use of the city's Aquatic Complex to conduct his feeding this week but Abbott's board members said they plan to be at the regular spot on the beach Wednesday.

Abbot was cited twice for feeding the homeless outdoors in violation of the city rules that feedings need to have running water, bathrooms and should be conducted indoors at a house of worship.

A photo sent to CBS4 by a local pastor where it may appear to some that Mr. Arnold Abbott is cuffed after his first encounter with police over the feeding law;however, late Tuesday the chief of police said Mr. Abbott was never put in cuffs, only cited.

Witness said Abbott was not cuffed yet  Fort Lauderdale's Mayor Mayor Jack Seiler said misinformation has persisted that Abbott was arrested.

"He was never taken into custody, that's issue one. Issue two is…we certainly did not ban feeding the homeless in the city of Fort Lauderdale," said Seiler.

On Tuesday, homeless people lined up in front of Fort Lauderdale City Hall for another day of public feedings along with another day of citations.

It's a violation of a new ordinance that restricts where the homeless can be fed.

"These laws are so ridiculously stupid, that we feel that attention has to be brought on to it. If elected officials are going to make policy like this, everyone should know, their grandchildren should know 10 years from now, he tried to take food out of a starving person's mouth," said Sean Cononie, founder of the organization Homeless Voice.

Click here to watch Carey Codd's report. 

Cononie is defying the law and even urging Seiler to suspend the ordinance for 90 days to come up with a new plan. He had set a deadline of 2:00 p.m.

"No one has contacted us. I don't think the city has any interest in trying to resolve these issues, other than they're looking for a lawsuit," said Cononie.

That deadline came and went and the ordinance is still in place with Seiler questioning why the Homeless Voice and Cononie are even involved in this.

"To have somebody come in from out of town and now say, 'hey, wait a minute, we want you to revisit an ordinance that we chose not to participate in the process.' That's not right," said Seiler.

Cononie's Homeless Voice operation is based in Hollywood. He's been fighting with the city there for years.

Last month, Hollywood agreed to pay him more than $4 million to buy his homeless shelter with an agreement that Cononie will leave and not return.

Fort Lauderdale's homeless feeding debate burst into the international spotlight more than a week ago.

Seiler said feeding the homeless is alive and well in Fort Lauderdale, with even more churches and charities passing out food, following the rules, like not setting up in a public park, providing bathrooms and following food safety guidelines.

"This was not just an ordinance thrown together and passed. This was a comprehensive homeless reform that was done in conjunction with so many community partners," said Seiler.

Click here to read Fort Lauderdale's homeless feeding ordinance.


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