LAPD arrests 7 activists - Food Not Bombs was feeding homeless

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 28 Dec 1999 11:20:41 -0800 (PST)


***********************************************************
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S VIEWS, News, Alerts, Actions & Research
7,000+ ONLINE POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn
INFO & to join/leave list - Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net>
***********************************************************

"CONTACT iccanarchist@aol.com
ORGANIZE AGAINST POLICE OPPRESSION!
SUPPORT FOOD NOT BOMBS SUNDAY JANUARY 2ND
AT PERSHING SQUARE!

We need to get as many people as we possibly can to our next serving this
Sunday so get the word out any way you can.  Make flyers, call your friends
and family, and pass this email arround.  We need your help so please
come>out and show your support.

ASSEMBLE AT 4:45 P.M INSIDE THE PARK NEAR THE CORNER OF 5TH AND HILL.  IT IS
IN THE MIDDLE OF DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES."

http://www.latimes.com/news/state/19991228/t000118209.html
FWD  Los Angeles Times - December 28, 1999

     POLICE ARREST 7 ACTIVISTS IN PARK DISPUTE

     By JOHNATHON E. BRIGGS, Times Staff Writer

The holiday spirit ended abruptly for seven community activists who
were arrested just after Christmas while feeding the homeless in Pershing
Square.

Members of Food Not Bombs, a national activist group that works to
feed and bring attention to the homeless, were arrested about 5:30 p.m.
Sunday when they refused to move from their regular meal distribution
site near an ice skating rink.

Members who comprise the Los Angeles chapter of the organization say
they have been feeding the homeless at the north end of the park twice a
week for the last two years. They only encounter problems, they say, when
the "Downtown on Ice" skating rink is set up there for the holidays.

Park officials said that's because the ice rink operators have a
permit allowing them to use that area until Jan. 17, and anyone who
operates there is interfering with the granted permit under a municipal
code. But the activists say have read the code and don't believe they are
in violation. Some of them accuse park officials of trying to push the
city's homeless out of sight.

"Homelessness is an issue that should be looked at, not kept
under wraps," said member Kendra Jacobs. "This is their home, and the . .
. rink comes and forces them to hide in the shadows."

Officials say the issue is not political. Under Municipal Code section
63.44 "no person shall use any area or facility . . . designated for a
specific recreational or park purpose by the Board Department."

"It's pretty specific," Jane Kolb, spokesperson for the Department of
Recreation and Parks, said of the code.

The arrests came just one week after one of the group's members was
arrested for the same thing. As a result, rangers and activists held a
mediation last Wednesday where they discussed an alternative food
distribution site in the park. Nevertheless, the activists returned to
their old spot on Sunday, saying they had understood that it was all
right if they didn't block walkways near the rink.

Kolb said that Sunday night, park rangers again asked the group not to
set up near the rink, where a band would perform. The group members were
told they could serve their vegetarian meals from a makeshift concession
area in the square away from the rink, Kolb said, but they refused.

"'Do you really want the police involved?"' Kolb recalls asking them.
"It was like they weren't listening."

Park rangers and Los Angeles police then arrested them.

But the activists recall the events differently. They say park rangers
were out in full force waiting for them when they arrived. They described
the arrests as a "sweep" that caught activists who were outside the
disputed zone.

They also say they don't understand why they can't feed the homeless
wherever they want in a public park.

"Feeding people in poverty shouldn't violate any park permits
anywhere," said David Busch, who was arrested. "It's very disturbing to
see that a group trying to feed the homeless is arrested. It sends a
terrible message."

Seven were booked "for standing in an area designated for use by
permit only," according to Sgt. Rick Harris. Bail was set at $100 each.

"I'm surprised that it's gone this far," Kolb said. "I would hope they
would go right on feeding the homeless" in another area of the park. "We
have no objection to that."

END FORWARD

**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material
is distributed without charge or profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information
for non-profit research and educational purposes only.**



*******************************************************
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn>
7,000+ POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy
*******************************************************