[Hpn] Police Threaten San Francisco FNB at Teach-In on 5 May 2000

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 20 May 2000 15:03:08 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Thu, 18 May 2000     PLEASE CIRCULATE     San Francisco, CA, USA
     From: San Francisco Food Not Bombs <sffnb@iww.org>


Fellow activsts and supporters:

On May 5th, Food Not Bombs activists were harassed and threatened by
the SFPD while at a solidarity serving for the Schools Not Jails Teach-In
at the Civic Center.  The event was organized by Bay Area high school
studentsin solidarity with students and teachers demanding more money
for education.  A rally that same day was held in Sacramento (CA state
capitol) as well as a state-wide student walk-out of over 10,000 youth
to show support for the Reinvesting in California Schools Act, which
will appear on the November ballot.  This act will increase the funding
for public schools by $1000/student.  Food Not Bombs was pleased to be
invited to provide lunch in support this important event.

Food Not Bombs arrived at about 12:30, with the event well underway.  A
group of students and supportive teachers from the group Teachers 4
Change were demonstrating in front of City Hall holding placards and
walking in a circle on the sidewalk in front of the steps to City Hall,
they were accompanied by at least two police officers.

About 200 people were participating in the
Teach-In accross the street in the Civic Center.  As we unloaded our
gear, we shouted "Food Not Bombs, Schools Not Jails," and walked toward
the area where a stage and workshop booths were set up.  Immediately we
noticed that a police officer pointed over at us and spoke to a
superior, so we got ready for trouble.

Sure enough, within minutes an officer came and told us we were not
allowed to serve food here.  This was ridiculous, as we had been invited
by the organizers of this event, but the police insisted that our
organization would have to be listed on the event's permit-- a blatant
violation of the 1st amendment right to freedom of assembly.  We served
the food anyway, despite repeated angry orders to stop, as the event
organizers explained that we had indeed been invited.  Then an officer
introduced himself as the new police captain of the northern district, a
Mr. Fagan.  Fagan announced that he had signed the permits himself, and
would never have agreed to allow Food Not Bombs to serve!!!  The police
then threatened to confiscate the Food Not Bombs food, equipment and
literature and, indeed, to shut down the entire event if we did not stop
serving.  Throughout, the event organizers and those nearby came to our
support, explaining the situation to the crowd from the stage, while
much soup, salad, sandwiches and bread were distributed.  We were also
grateful for the two media activsts present who each immediately began
filming the outrageous actions of the police-- doubtlessly influencing
their behavior.

This standoff continued for a time, when we had a stroke of luck-- Tom
Ammiano, chair of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was walking by
and was asked by event organizers to speak.  Ammiano has been one of our
most unwavering and effective political
allies, most recently last fall when, during an intense election, he
offered his support to FNB during a sporadic burst of arrests at our
regular evening servings in United Nations Plaza.  We approached him,
and quickly explained the situation, asking if he would mention us as he
spoke.  He did, and a few minutes later, Captain Fagan came back and
told us that, since his wife is a teacher and he personally
supports this event, (imagine if this were a Teach-In about police
brutality!) he would "let it slide" for today, but that we must agree
that this will be the last time.  Of course, we would never agree to
such a thing(!), and when we also refused to identify how many people
from our group were present, he grew exasperated and left to consult
with a group of other officers and watch from the sidewalk near the
crosswalk to city hall.  We continued to serve until the event ended at

Many of those present were unaware of continuing police harassment of
FNB.  Some people likely have questions as to why this kind of treatment
takes place, and what it means.  The students who organized this
extraordinary Teach-In did not expect to butt heads with authorities--
all applicable permits were taken care of.  But therein lies the crux of
the issue: oppression in our society takes many forms, and all are

Consider:  California recently passed Porposition 21-- which takes
funding away from our schools to
support increased police persecution of anyone deemed "gang-members",
and undermines many of our civil rights, especially those of youth of
color.  This has occured within a context where incidents of police
brutality and systemic
racism are on the rise, and the most vulnerable of all, he homeless, are
effectively criminalized for existing at all.  Given this situation, is
it any wonder that police harassment of any who oppose he staus quo will
increase with equal severity?

Police harassment may be nothing new for the homeless, activists like Food
Not Bombs, and (sadly enough) most youth of color.  But consider this:  as
more and more of us begin to join in the protest against the
astronomical increase in spending on police, prisons, and other
instruments of social control, both public and private, (to say nothing
of the gargantuan military budget which only increases every year-- to
fund brutal wars against civilian populations)--  all of this while
cutting funding for education and social services-- we
would be niave to assume that ANY of us are immune to harassment and
intimidation by the authorities.

We of Food Not Bombs who were present can not emphasize enough our
gratitude at the support shown us by those present at the Teach-In--
especially the student organizers who made this impressive event
possible and immediatley joined the volunteers of Food Not Bombs to
decide a course of action that could be least confontational or
disruptive and that would allow the teach-in to continue and also allow
the Food Not Bombs serving and outreach to be a presence.

We reiterate our offer to excercise our right to serve free
vegetarian food at any event which is organizing for social justice and
environmental sanity. Those interested in getting involved can
contact FNB at 675-9928.

El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido!!

P.S.  Please circulate this letter, especially to anyone involved in the
May 5th Teach-In.  Unfortunately, we don't have many of their email


<sffnb@iww.org> Signature File Of Thursday 20 January 2000

Communications from this e-mail address <sffnb@iww.org> DO NOT necessarily
reflect views of the San Francisco Food Not Bombs organization, unless it
is otherwise indicated. The information content and opinions expressed in
this communication are from individual members, allies and affiliates of
San Francisco Food Not Bombs.

San Francisco Food Not Bombs
P.O. Box 40485
San Francisco, California 94140

Phone:      + 1-415-675-9928
E-Mail:     < sffnb@iww.org > and < sffnb@dojo.tao.ca >
Web Page:   < http://www.foodnotbombs.org >

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