Charity begins at…someplace other than Fort Lauderdale, Florida

On behalf of Eisenmenger, Robinson & Peters, P.A. posted in Criminal Law on Monday, February 16, 2015.

In the New Testament Jesus says to sell your possessions and give to charity. In Proverbs it says, “He who has pity on the poor gives to the Lord.” In Buddhism charity is the first of the ten “perfections.” In the Koran it says, “Whatever wealth you give away, goes to your own benefit.” I think it’s safe to say most if not all atheists believe in charity too. Snake-handlers? I don’t know much about them, but the smart money is they believe in the virtues of charity as well.

So who could possibly be “anti-charity?” The answer is (insert drum roll): the City of Fort Lauderdale. The Fort Lauderdale City Council recently passed an ordinance making it a second-degree misdemeanor (which carries penalties of up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail) for someone to feed homeless people in certain parts of town. Recently, a 90-year-old man was arrested for violating the ordinance.

Early in December, Broward Circuit Judge Thomas Lynch ordered a 30-day injunction against enforcing the law and directed both sides sit down and mediate the issue to see if they can reach some common ground. At present, the City is not only unwilling to repeal the ordinance but is actually interested in expanding the zone where charity is criminalized!

People who write for a living are trained to end with a strong commentary on issues like this. They are told to write something that attempts to “capture the zeitgeist.” Sometimes, however, we are just left speechless in the face of a despicable abuse of governmental power. “No good deed goes unpunished.” In this case, the City of Fort Lauderdale means that literally.