Posts Tagged ‘criminalization of homelessness’

After a lengthy judicial process, Orlando Food Not Bombs has had their right to serve free food and literature restricted to twice a year per park. This outrageous classist court ruling is now spreading to other places in Florida. Attacks on Food Not Bombs in Orlando are attacks on Food Not Bombs everywhere. It is vital that people around the world take action in support of Orlando and other Food Not Bombs groups.

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There is a Food Not Bombs gathering in Florida this coming weekend. For folks who can’t make it to that gathering, please come to Monroe Park Food Not Bombs to talk about how Richmonders can support Floridians. We will hopefully be receiving specific information from Florida Food Not Bombs groups between now and then regarding what they would find useful in terms of support and solidarity. Come to help cook from 12:30 to 3:45 at 2005 Barton Avenue, or come to talk about what we can do during the meal at 4pm in Monroe Park at the Corner of Main and Belvidere.

This court ruling and the situation in Florida is particularly important in a City like Richmond, where the park where we have been serving a meal for over 17 years is being threatened with a gentrification renovation plan and homelessness is constantly harassed and criminalized.  This could be us. So lets stand up now, with Florida to fight unjust, classist, and oppressive laws.

Anyone who wants to get involved can email rvafoodnotbombs@gmail.com and find out more information about helping with Richmond Food Not Bombs meals at http://www.richmondfoodnotbombs.wordpress.com

More information from Keith McHenry and Florida Groups:

Please participate in this important effort to defend our right to share food and information by reclaiming public space in Florida.

The Eleventh Circuit Federal Court of Appeal ruled against Food Not Bombs on April 12, 2011 claiming that the city of Orlando had the right to limit Food Not Bombs to the sharing of food with its literature to twice a year per park. Other cities in Florida are now passing laws limiting Food Not Bombs to twice a year as a result of the Orlando ruling.

Food Not Bombs volunteers from all over Florida are coming to Orlando to resist this unjust law.  A number of strategies are proposed in regards to opposition to the Orlando law. Some community groups are flooding City Hall with requests for permits while Food Not Bombs groups are defying the law and sharing food regardless of the Eleventh Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruling since the Orlando case has such dire implications for Food Not Bombs groups all across the United States. Successful resistance in Orlando this May can have an impact across the state and the country.  Food Not Bombs groups from all across the world have announced solidarity actions this week!

Everyone is welcome to attend. Please let everyone know about this important event.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 – NONVIOLENCE WORKSHOP 6:00 PM Lake Eola Park Orlando, Florida – Based on the Nonviolence Trainings before Food Not Bombs actions in San Francisco this workshop will include role playing and discussion of tactics and strategies of nonviolent resistance to the disruption of the sharing of food.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Orlando Food Not Bombs City Hall Action – Risk arrest sharing vegan meals and literature under the banner Food Not Bombs at 400 South Orange Avenue and the corner of South Street in downtown Orlando, Florida (more…)

This article was published on our friend’s website- http://www.richmondspark.wordpress.com

One of the main issues of the Monroe Park Occupation (www.monroeparkoccupation.wordpress.com) was the policy of the Richmond Police Department of destroying homeless camps and all of the belongings of homeless people with no notice. This policy has been an ongoing reality for people who are homeless in Richmond. In recent months, many camps have been destroyed by the Richmond police and by people doing court forced “community service” for the 4th precinct. Anyone interested in working on this issue should get in touch with the Wingnut Anarchist Collective. Destroying homeless camps and homeless people’s belongings is nothing short of class war, inhumane treatment, robbery, property destruction, and in many cases, attempted murder.

Here is the article:

ACLU Files FOIA Request Regarding VDOT Policies on Homeless, Litigation a Possibility

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the VA Department of Transportation (VDOT). The ACLU wants information regarding the policies of handling and destroying the possessions of homeless people who live on the land owned by VDOT.

Last month a company contracted by the Virginia Department of Transportation demolished a homeless encampment near Interstate 81 at Exit 315 near Winchester. At least four homeless men were using the property for months when the contracted company destroyed their camp and belongings.

The men lost tents, sleeping bags, clothes, food, medication, and other camping gear. One of the homeless men lost his wallet which contained his Social Security Card and birth certificate. No advance notice about the removal of their possessions was given. (more…)

From http://www.monroeparkoccupation.wordpress.com

After nearly a month, the nine occupiers who were detained on the night of March 17th, during the upheaval of the Monroe Park Occupation, appeared in Richmond-Manchester Court before judge D.E. Cheek.
Arriving early, only one person chose to maintain their pro-bono lawyer, while six others eagerly fired their bewildered public defenders. Shortly into the morning’s docket, one of the two occupiers charged solely with trespassing was tried, and plead guilty, for a fine of $25.

After nearly two hours of anticipation, and five of the eight remaining persons being singled out and removed from the courtroom for the most innocuous behavior – nodding, gesturing, changing seats – all were called up to the stand for a trial which was not only entirely laughable, but most certainly emphatic of the people’s power to represent themselves.

Armed with legal precedent, and other vital evidence of the farcical nature of the charges levied against the defendents, the group (while representing only themselves as individuals) moved for dismissal of all charges. The charge of obstruction of justice was soon addressed, and Jones v. Commonwealth, as well as Atkins v. Commonwealth were cited in a most succinct and successful manner, under the argument that no individual actually physically impeded the process of arrest, but only made the arresting officers’ task more difficult by reserving their 5th Amendment right. Already, the youthful commowealth attorney was clearly fazed by the actions of a seemingly motley crew of contemptuous dregs. While the CA attempted to stammer out more inaccuracy and untruth to argue forth that charge, the judge bemusedly rejected his claims after the defendants briefly clarified that the obstruction of justice summons was issued prior to convening with the magistrate, therefore containing the circumstances to the same of the cited precedents.

Moving on to the trespassing charges, the defendants proposed the unconstitutional nature of the statute defining park hours and use of the park accordingly. The clause contained within said statute explained the possibility of use of the park outside of regular hours by obtaining a permit from the mayor’s office, but did not clearly define the requirements or discretion used for acquiring this permit. The judge did not choose to fully recognize this claim, but also did not have the power to rule the statute unconstitutional outright. The defense next proposed that since all conventional and advised forms of action (i.e., contacting city council) had been exhausted, direct action was necessary, as was the presence of the occupation at night to successfully express the dire nature of the concerns being raised. Therefore, it was most simply an exercise of free speech. Also, questions were raised as to the conclusions left to be drawn from the most curious police behavior experienced during the occupation.
The state having very little to say in their favor, and having had much of that belittled by the judge, it was not long before the court settled on the dismissal of obstruction charges, and a $25 dollar fine for all but one trespassing charge, which was dropped due to its own false nature. The remaining seven who were fined are appealing the charge.