On 10-31-2014, the city of Fort Lauderdale put into effect new ordinances that ban sleeping or having property in public spaces, panhandling and sharing. Since then, police have arrested people for sharing food and wanting to meet with public officials. 8 were arrested today, Nov 4th, for peacefully trying to meet with Chris Wren the Executive Director of the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Board to urge him to renounce the new homeless hate laws. At least two food sharings were disrupted on Sunday, November 2nd next to Stranahan Park. One street ministry was prevented from sharing food and later Love Thy Neighbor managed to share about 4 plates of food before being taken aside and given "Notice to Appear" tickets under the new sharing ban regulations. At least 4 people were giving tickets over the weekend including 2 clergy and 90 year old homeless advocate Arnold Abbott.
Jillian Pim, a resident of Dania, FL, and volunteer with Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs, will begun a hunger strike on 11/2/14 to protest the Fort Lauderdale City Commission's approval of the "Amendment to unified land development regulations," which bans the sharing of food in public spaces. The law was passed on October 22, 2014, and was part of a series of laws targeting the homeless which have been heavily opposed by local churches and homeless advocacy groups, including Food Not Bombs, Peanut Butter and Jelly Project, Love Bags, Project Downtown, and Love Thy Neighbor.
Donations will go to food sharing equipment (forks, spoons, tables plates, etc if they get confiscated) tickets, fines, bail, legal and medical support for Jillian.
Since this May, Fort Lauderdale has passed ordinances restricting panhandling, the storage of belongings in public areas, camping in public, and now the sharing of food. Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs has been campaigning for and sharing food with the homeless since 2006, and has recently been opposing what they refer to as “Homeless Hate Laws” through public food sharing, demonstrations, marches, street theater, and direct opposition to the laws at City Commission meetings.
“The criminalization of food sharing with homeless people is a fundamental violation of basic humanity and morality,” says Jillian Pim, a member of Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs who begins her hunger strike today. “I choose to go on hunger strike until this law is repealed or enforcement of it is stopped. I call on the people of Fort Lauderdale and everywhere else to demand that the Mayor, City Commission, Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Development Authority, and all other supporters of these homeless hate laws abondon the criminalization of poverty.”
There are now an estimated 3.5 million homeless Americans, but since January 2013, thirty-one U.S. cities have introduced or passed legislation to restrict food sharing programs. "It is appalling that basic human kindness is an arrestable offense," says Pim.