Florida is known for being an … interest place. Fort Lauderdale lived up to this reputation when it passed five ordinances in 2014 to crack down on homelessness. According to the Broward Palm Beach New Times, one of those ordinances restricted sharing food at outdoor sites.
This led to multiple arrests, including the arrest of a 90-year-old homeless advocate and several members of Food Not Bombs, a group that recovers food from stores and restaurants that would otherwise be thrown out and distributes it to those in need.
Food Not Bombs decided to take action. They continued to feed the homeless, and they sued Fort Lauderdale.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to take the sensible, decent approach and ruled that feeding the homeless is “expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment,” according to Forbes.
Homelessness is a complex issue. Blanket laws that punish the homeless do nothing to address the underlying issues which cause homelessness in the first place. Maybe Fort Lauderdale could take the money it spends on arresting people for feeding the homeless and set up transitional housing instead? Just a thought.