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Ministers facing criminal charges for feeding homeless

The primary focus of many criminal defense strategies in Florida is to prove to a judge or jury that the individual charged with a crime is innocent. However, there are certain instances in which guilt is not only admitted by the accused, but the resulting criminal charges are held forth as a badge of honor. These individuals take many forms; some are protestors, others practice more intense forms of civil disobedience in order to make a statement against that which they believe to be unjust. What they all share in common is the deeply held belief that there are times at which the law is in direct opposition to what is fundamentally right and good.

Such is the case for a Florida minister who is facing criminal charges. His crime is simple: the 90-year-old man, along with two other area ministers, is steadfast in his mission to help feed the homeless. This is at odds with a Fort Lauderdale city ordinance that prohibits public handouts of food. As a result, the men face charges that could bring as many as 60 days behind bars, as well as fines nearing $500.

Several days after being charged, the elderly pastor was back out, serving a four-course dinner to a group of homeless people. A crowd gathered to support the effort, as police officers filmed the happenings from a short distance away. The pastor told reporters that he has been feeding the homeless for over two decades, and that the has multiple other programs in place to help homeless individuals learn skills and better their circumstances.

As this case heads to court, a spotlight will be placed on Florida's growing homeless problem. Many will watch to see how the city of Fort Lauderdale will respond to the efforts that these men and others like them are making to help those who are in need. As for those accused of breaking the law to do what they believe is right, the outcome of these criminal charges may bring even more attention to the issue, an outcome that may be worth any punitive measures that are taken.

Source: Fox News, "Florida man continues to feed homeless despite looming criminal charges", Nov. 6, 2014

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