Re: ALERT: SF Food Not Bombs threatened with arrest - Call officials! FWD

Bill Tinker (
Mon, 4 Oct 1999 09:13:00 -0400

Dear Mayor Brown,
 I am sickened by the way you allow the mistreatment of the homeless. Is it
because you have never been displaced or with out a home or a warm meal?
 If you can not prevent these types of abuses from occurring then perhaps
its time to face your own mirror and remember there but for the grace of god
go I...
 I won,t pretend to have the answers to the homeless situation,I only know
that we were all created egual and just because you are down and almost out
does not allow for the unwarranted police intimidation,or harrassment of
Food Not Bombs Persons whom were only serving food to persons who wanted
 Please understand that compassion for your fellow man and allowing these
[eople to pull them selves up by their bootstraps is a humanitarian
effort,and of course is perhaps against your mayoral code but Mayor Brown
the homeless presence will not go away just because you want it to.You need
to work with coordinators on the street level and become a solution to their
problem,and not a negative force...It is possible under certain Fedral
guielines that you could be in violation of the ADA,it bears looking into,I
am sure you could be a bit kinder to that man or woman you passed by and
paid no attention to,don,t you get it they have as much right to exist as
you do......So please remember I was homeless and am now a tax payer but my
feelings have not dwindled about the wrongs that were committed by the
police with your obvious orders to do so,you have alerted the nation that
you are seeking to ignore your friends and voters because of political
pressure,but I will tell you that you are not going to be reelected if you
cotinue on the road you have chosen,so good luck in your political future.
 And Mayor Brown I pray you view this as constructive criticism,because that
is its intent!!!
 Thank you for your time......Bill Tinker

----- Original Message -----
From: Tom Boland <>
To: HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK list <>; Food Not Bombs list
Sent: Monday, October 04, 1999 8:23 AM
Subject: ALERT: SF Food Not Bombs threatened with arrest - Call officials!

> FWD  Date: Mon, 04 Oct 1999 00:33:33 -0700 (MST)
> Non-member submission to HPN from "firebrat" <>
> On Saturday, Oct. 2 the Coalition on Homelessness held a rally
> at the Civic Ceonter, marking the beginning of a National Civil Rights
> campaign. As they handed out free sack lunches to those in attendance, the
> SFPD informed them that if they continued to serve food without a permit,
> the permit for the rally would be revoked.
> As the rally wound down, Food Not Bombs began serving dinner  in
> adjacent United Nations Plaza.  Minutes after the servers set up, the SFPD
> approached and threatened arrest if they did not cease sharing food
> without a permit.  The officer radioed for backup when FNB refused to stop
> serving, answering questions about the need for arrest only with a
> repetitious "because it's illegal." In response to the police presence,
> thirty people hanging out after the rally began chanting in support and
> walked over to surround the food table. The police spent the duration of
> the serving waiting by the squad car but did not move in to arrest.
> Continued harassment by the police of FNB and other groups trying
> to share free food in public spaces is unacceptable. We must increase the
> pressure on City Hall to take steps towards dealing with San Francisco's
> housing crisis and poverty problem- not let them get away criminalizing
> the people themselves and their advocates.  SF FNB appreciates all the
> support that has been extended to us, and it is crucial right now that we
> demonstrate to the City how much solidarity and strength this community
> possesses.
> Following is an article written by FNB organizer Chris Crass for
> this month's Street Spirit. At the end is a list of phone numbers and
> email addresses for local officials who need to hear our voices regarding
> the ongoing police harassment.
> Arrest that Soup!  Police order Food Not Bombs to put down the ladle
> -Chris Crass
> San Francisco Food Not Bombs has a long history of harassment and
> repression on the part of City Hall and the police.  Over the past ten
> years we have been arrested hundreds of times, our food confiscated as
> evidence or dumped into the gutter, threats by police made to our members,
> our literature about economic inequality and local protests seized along
> with our banners and signs.  We were arrested in Golden Gate Park and in
> Civic Center under the Agnos administration and arrested repeatedly in
> Civic Center and United Nations Plaza under the Jordan administration.
>  So when the police have approached us to inform us that we were in
> violation of the law and that we must cease sharing free food in United
> Nations Plaza, many said, "oh no, not again."
>  When Willie Brown ran for Mayor in 95, along with all of the other
> candidates running against Frank Jordan, he stated in the Bay Guardian
> that he opposed Jordan's policies on homelessness, that he was against the
> police arresting FNB and that he would dismantle the infamous Matrix
> program which criminalized homeless people for "Quality of Life"
> infractions.  Additionally, Terence Hallinan, who was then running for
> District Attorney, repeatedly stated that he opposed the repression
> against FNB and that once elected he would not prosecute anyone for
> serving free food with FNB.  Many people believed that the times of police
> arresting or harassing people for sharing food were over.  However an
> election for Mayor quickly approaches us.
>   "Criminalizing Food Not Bombs's First Amendment activities is a
> reiteration of the same weary scene that has played out in Act IV of the
> last three Mayoral administrations, from a script that traditionally
> includes three years of do-nothing homeless policies," said Chance Martin
> of the Coalition on Homelessness.  He further stated, "As the scene
> unfolds, FNB's food servings are suddenly portrayed by the City as a
> health risk... The real agenda here is that FNB is regarded by Quality of
> Life' proponents as a 'magnet' for visible homelessness, as if providing
> vital nourishment to destitute human beings somehow creates poverty and
> hunger."  The Coalition on Homelessness is currently organizing a rally
> for October 2nd to kick off a National Civil Rights Organizing Project.
>   On Friday Sept 3rd and Sunday Sept. 12th, Food Not Bombs activists were
> told that our community meal was in violation of the law, and that we
> faced citations unless we packed up and left.  On the 3rd, police gave two
> FNBers citations for 'selling food without a permit' regardless of the
> fact that we distribute food for free.  On the 12th, three officers rolled
> up on FNB and told us that we need to stop serving.  The officer in charge
> said that the Health Dept. would be coming to UN Plaza and issuing
> citations for serving without a permit (a permit that neither the Health
> Dept nor the City currently issue). The Health Dept. official, who was
> called by the police, reportedly said, "I don't want to come down there
> and get involved'.  Strong support for FNB from people eating at UN Plaza
> was expressed to the police.  When the police appraoched the FNB server to
> get ID, two men waiting in line for soup immediately volunteered to serve
> the food in a show of solidarity.  The officer declined to take IDs.
>     On October 2nd the SFPD approached FNB members who were serving in UN
> Plaza at the end of the Coalition on Homelessness's rally kicking off a
> national Civil Rights campaign effort.  The FNBers were told that they
> muststop serving food or be arrested.  Around 30 people from the rally
> surrounded the FNB table and started chanting.  The police maintained
> their
> presense but back off from arresting anyone.
>   The recent harassment of FNB is part of a larger plan to eliminate
> homeless and low-income people from Civic Center and United Nations Plaza.
>   The Board of Supervisors recently voted to make UN Plaza an official
> park of the City, falling under the jurisdiction of the Dept of Park and
> Rec.  Park and Rec has begun posting new regulations in UN Plaza that
> prohibit homeless people from being in the area from 10pm
>  to 6am.  Using
> the police to force homeless people out of visible areas has long been a
> tactic used by elected officials, especially when they are up for
> re-election.
>  In response to this tactic, Clare Bayard, an FNB organizer, said "San
> Francisco is just trying to maintain its national reputation as one of the
> nastiest cities toward homeless folx.  As elections approach, the police
> have stepped up their harassment of the homeless and their advocates in a
> sadly i
> ronic attempt to remove from visibility everyone who is obviously
> suffering under the system and anyone who supports their civil and
> economic rights."  Bayard also said, "There's no interest in fixing the
> real problems, just in creati
> ng the appearance that the City has act
> ually>done something about the 14,000 people with nowhere else to ge
> besides
> p
> ublic spaces. The City has no empathy a
> nd we [FNB] have no tolerance for
> that."
>   In addition to FNB's recent visits from the police, a free lunch program
> organized by a group of students from Marin's Branson High School was
> ordered to cease their efforts to eliminate hunger in SF.  On Sept. 11th,
> the students went to Civic Center to hand out sack lunches as they have
> for over five years
> .  The students where threatened with arrest from the
> group of police who arrived in several police cars and a van.  The
> students were literally chased out of the City's Civic Center for acting
> on their civic duty to help other citizens.
>   The story of the students generated front-page stories in the Examiner
> and the Chronicle which then led to a compromise deal from the City.  If
> ya move to Boedekker Park in the heart of the Tenderloin, the police will
> not arrest you, the students were told by City Hall.  Somehow, food
> distributed in a less visible park, hidden amongst the poverty of the
> Tenderloin is safer and does not pose a health risk.  Whereas the same
> food, served under the same conditions in Civic Center poses a grave risk
> to the health of homeless people?  Moreover, while free food programs like
> the ones organized by the Marin students and FNB are heavily
> scrutinized by the City for supposed health and safety concerns, poor
> people eating
> out of trash cans and/or dying on the street due to exposure seems to go
> unnoticed.
>   Sister Bernie Galvin, founder and director of Religious Witness with
> Homeless People, has been organizing for years to make City Hall notice
> the inhumanity and injustice of poverty in SF.  Galvin and Religious
> Witness have organized countless protests, vigils and acts of non-violent
> civil disobedience to win affordable housing for low-income and no-income
> people and families.  Galvin has recently stated, "I have joined FNB in
> serving those meals in UN Plaza, and I will continue to do so.  This act
> of compassion of helping poor and hungry people is done in a reverent,
> respectful, warm and gracious manner.  Furthermore, if Mayor Brown does
> not back down from this threat [to stop FNB], I will organize the support
> of religious leaders to protect the right and responsibility of FNB and
> all people of faith to follow the mandate of all faith traditions to 'feed
> the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless..."
>   Food Not Bombs activists hope to generate an enormous out-pouring of
> support and solidarity from the larger social justice movement and
> concerned citizens from around the world.  Already emails of support have
> been sent to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors from dozens of
> activists>>from as far away as Toronto, Canada and Sydney, Australia.  FNB
> is working
> to build community and political support now, so as to avoid further
> harassment and repression from the City.  FNB hopes that this support and
> solidarity will demonstrate a widely felt commitment to address the real
> causes of poverty and homelessness rather than policies which punish and
> persecute the poor.
>   FNB requests that people either call or email the Mayor and Board of
> Supervisors and ask them to end the harassment of FNB and other food
> providers and work on securing real affordable housing instead.
> Mayor Willie Brown 415.554.6141 or
> Board President Tom Ammiano 415.554.5144 or
> Supervisor Sue Bierman 415.554.6661 or
> Supervisor Amos Brown 415.554.7601 or
> Supervisor Leslie Katz 415.554.5335 or
> Supervisor Barbara Kaufman 415.554.4880
> Supervisor Mark Leno 415.554.7734 or
> Supervisor Gavin Newsom 415.554.5942 or
> Supervisor Mabel Teng 415.554.4981 or
> Supervisor Michael Yaki 415.554.7901 or
> Supervisor Leland Yee 415.554.7752 or
> Supervisor Alicia Beccril 415.554.6488 or