A PRIEST in the Episcopal Church in the United States is to
appear in court after defying tough new regulations in the state of
Florida, restricting where and how food can be given out to
Canon Mark Sims, Rector of St Mary Magdalene's, Fort Lauderdale,
was detained alongside two others - one a 90-year-old man - for
giving out food to homeless people in a city park. Under the new
regulations he could face a fine or a 60-day prison sentence. The
regulations, passed last month, restrict where and how food can be
distributed to homeless people. Fort Lauderdale is the 13th city in
the US to pass such restrictions.
Canon Sims was detained alongside the pastor of the Sanctuary
Church, the Revd Dwayne Black, and Arnold Abbott, aged 90, who runs
the charity Love Thy Neighbour.
A fund has been set up to help Canon Sims to pay for his court
case. He has said that he will sue the city for the right to keep
feeding the homeless.
He said: "If I get sentenced to jail, I'm going to jail. But I
am determined to allow people to be able to compassionately feed
the homeless and hungry on the streets of Florida. I don't see how
we can pass an ordinance that restricts human decency."
City officials have said that they want feeding programmes moved
indoors, but Canon Sims and others say that there are simply not
enough locations to accommodate the growing numbers of homeless in