(CNN) — Arnold Abbott handed out four plates of food to homeless people in a South Florida park. Then police stopped the 90-year-old from serving up another bite.
“An officer said, ‘Drop that plate right now — like I had a weapon,'” Abbott said.
Abbott and two pastors in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were charged for feeding the homeless in public on Sunday, under a new ordinance banning public food sharing.
Now they face possible jail time and a $500 fine.
“Just because of media attention we don’t stop enforcing the law. We enforce the laws here in Fort Lauderdale,” Mayor Jack Seiler said.
He defended the law in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
“I’m not satisfied with having a cycle of homeless in the city of Fort Lauderdale,” Seiler said. “Providing them with a meal and keeping them in that cycle on the street is not productive.”
“These are the poorest of the poor. They have nothing. They don’t have a roof over their head,” Abbott said. “Who can turn them away?”
It’s a battle Abbott has fought before. In 1999 he sued the city for banning him from feeding homeless people on the beach — and won.
He said the threat of charges won’t stop him from doing it again.
“I’m not afraid of jail. I’m not looking to go, but if I have to, I will,” he said.
On Wednesday, Abbott said he’ll be at Fort Lauderdale Beach, ready to serve another meal.
▶ Officer: 'Drop That PLATE, Right Now' – recalled 90-year-old Man Arrested for Feeding Homeless – YouTube.