Re: LA FNB - End repression at Pershing Square! - Tom Louie

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 28 Dec 1999 12:30:29 -0800 (PST)


FWD Tue, 28 Dec 1999 Non-member submission to HPN from LA FNB <lafnb@yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: LA FNB - End repression at Pershing Square! - Tom Louie offers
aid  FWD

Update: On Sunday, December 26, 1999, 7 Food Not Bombs
activists were arrested for serving food and
peacefully protesting in the front of Pershing Square.
 New signs had been added to our park in the front
that said, "This is a permit area only, For a Permit
talk to ..."

Upon arrival in the park, Vicky Israel of the Parks
and Recreation Department started yelling at the
activists and telling them they must move.  When she
realized she was being video taped, she physically
grabbed the microphone of the journalist and started
going after him....i could go into more details, but
the main point is that the park rangers called the
LAPD for backup, the LAPD surrounded the servers after
about 15 minutes of serving the public, and allowed
the park rangers to arrest them.

None of the 7 arrested were released without bail
(even though the jail was filled with DUI from x-mas)
and one member remains in jail tonight.
-----
the rest is from Dan DiPasquo.  He will mention
specifically if he is speaking as a spokes person for
LA FNB..

I think Tom raises some really good points about the
issues we are fighting for here.  Judging from
discussions we've had at recent meetings, most people
in the group see this fight as much more important
than us being able to serve in the park.  I would like
to respond to certain parts of Tom's post, which
covers some of my main points well already:


>     Does anybody know what happened to the FNB
> volunteers?

covered above...

>I know I got
> there a little late, so I wonder if the cops had
> already "swept" them
> all up by the time I arrived. That would mean it
> only took 15 minutes
> for the armed thugs to get rid of them, and I think
> we, collectively
> (the social-change activists in L.A.), ought to be
> costing the
> powers-that-be a lot more than 15 minutes.

My personal feeling is that FNBs should be able to
hold this space longer even by ourselves.  That said,
I was not at this action this past weekend, and they
were perpared to arrest us from the start.


>     We all need to rally in support of Food Not
> Bombs, with all our
> organizations. I think the denial of public space is
> really a serious
> offense against the people. No matter what cause
> we're working for, if
> we the let the rich and powerful chase us out of
> public spaces, then we
> may as well not have any rights at all. Free
> expression in public areas
> is just basic and fundamental (and yes, I think the
> act of serving free
> food qualifies as "symbolic speech," because it's a
> big slap in the face
> of an uncaring establishment).

Right on! But I think the issue of speech is even more
clear in our case.  We clearly inform people in the
park through leafleting during our servings that we do
this in public places to raise conciousness.  The park
management has seen these flyers.  Furthermore, we
negotiated directly with the park rangers, and
informed them directly why we didn't want to move, and
that it was an issue of speech.  I see this as part of
a much larger issue: namely can the state regulate
declare the most visible and prominant part of cities
"no constitution areas"?  In our case, even within a
public park.

Furthermore, they claim they do not want to stop us
from serving food, but they want us to move to a less
visible location.  Originally they said we were
"sometimes blocking access and causing a disturbance",
even though no complaints had been registered with
them.  So we did offer to comprimise, we offered to
move up the steps to the top of the stage, so that we
couldn't possibly be blocking access or causing a
disturbance.  They turned this down, showing that
clearly the issue is visiblity.


>     I work for a pro-immigrant group called "La

<snip - really important work being done for free
speech by La Resistancia..>

 don't deserve freedom of speech." It seems that
> political activity in
> public space is under constant attack,
> everywhere--just look at Seattle!
>
>     So, I think the activist community needs to get
> involved in this in
> a bigger way. I think, at a very minimum, there
> should be a noisy, yet
> legal and peaceful demonstration on the sidewalk
> surrounding Pershing
> Square. (Even if the park manager claims he can
> control what goes on
> inside his park--oop, sorry, I mean the park he
> claims to operate on
> behalf of the people--it will be a bigger jump for
> him to claim he can
> restrict sidewalk activity.) If FNB calls for it, we
> should all turn out
> our people for it.

I called around to other members of the group when I
saw this, and you can consider this called for.
Please realize that we can not hesitate to push back
on this issue, because the go back to not caring about
us when the rink is taken out on January 17th.  Our
next seerving will be Sunday January 2 at 5PM.  We are
calling for a loud, non-violent (but hopefully very
confrontational) demonstration at Pershing Square at
this time.  What can groups do other than mobilize for
this?

A few things...
---Sign on to our list of groups that support us in
this struggle...Write me and I can get you a copy of
the actual letter folx are signing.

---We are a fairly small group, and could use some
other people who would be willing to get arrested
along side our members.  If you could talk someone
prominent who would bring signifigant media attention
to this, that would be a big plus.

---Tie in the issue of speech in public spaces in
other struggles (and any chance you get to talk to
people).  Bring up seattle, FNB in LA, La Resitancia,
ect.. In my opinion, this is extremely important, and
public opinion has strong ramification for what the
state can get away with (read the Demcratic National
Convention)..

>     I think there are some strong possibilities for
> coalition work
> here.  At a minimum, every organization that deals
> with poverty, or
> hunger and homelessness, or police brutality and
> repression, or the
> misplacement of budget priorities on war and prisons
> at the expense of
> human needs, should help Food Not Bombs fight for
> the park if they ask
> for it.
>     Your thoughts, fellow activists?
>     Tom Louie <activism@pacbell.net>
>
> END FORWARD
>
>   vegetarian, nonviolence, consensus
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