I appreciate the message and your concern. Part of me wants to think they are just blowing smoke and have no intentions of pursuing anything serious. Another part of me almost wants them to try and shut us down in light of the lack of success officials have had in places like Orlando and SoFla in recent years, which resulted in costing the respective cities money, and if anything, strengthening the resolve of the FNB organizers and rallying community support for the organizations.
That being said, as we all well know, Sarasota seems to be somewhat unique in terms of the ability of moneyed interests to mobilize effectively criminalize & discriminate against poor people. In addition, Police surveillance of Food Not Bombs is not the only manifestation of the recent increased crackdown on homelessness in recent months. I personally witnessed the police harass people in front of the Resurrection House and make several threats to the director of shutting the place down, and I have read recent Observer articles about how the downtown elite is trying to pass observe measures like banning smoking in the park & getting an ordinance passed to reduce the number of people that can gather at the park. I'm not sure exactly what the best action is to take, but its clear that we should be prepared to defend the relatively meager rights that folks have struggled for thusfar. In light of the ever-growing unemployment rate and increase in homeless population, this might be an ideal moment to push back, whether in the form of overturning the anti-lodging ordinance or something else.
I don't have any particular input in terms of whether or not FNB should meticulously document all of its activities to prove to the authorities that we're legit. Except that I think we should instead increase public support to our cause and consider using the opportunity of the economic downturn to push forward.
On a similar vein, I'm just getting back from a week intensive working with Take Back the Land
and I believe that initiating similar projects would be both possible and very important for a place like Sarasota.
I plan on bringing up these issues at this upcoming week's FNB. I will also try to update everyone with Valerie Buchand's recent meetings with Richard Martin and other city officials around the connection between the lack of public & affordable housing and homelessness.
On Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 9:11 PM, trupeaceveg <trupeaceveg@...>
It's Trudy, here.
I have been helping out with food and serving at 5 Points lately, and noticed how each Friday we are being observed by Sarasota Police. Over the last three-four weeks their numbers are increasing. This past Friday (27 March 09) there were three police vehicles at various times.
I read the messages on the FNB blog page, and don't feel the letter to the college was prompted by concern for the safety to students and other volunteers. I think it is merely a tactic of the neighborhood association to "act concerned" for us rather than the true reason....which is to get rid of us.
I met a woman this past Friday, who volunteered information that she was familiar with the ordinance under which FNB operates, that she lives in a condo overlooking the park and she wasn't happy with having all "these people hanging around" while we offer food to them. She was obviously annoyed and not a supporter of the cause. She spoke with others as well, who I might add, were respectful to her, yet stated their feelings about how and why they try to help the homeless this way.
Since FNB is being so closely watched, I think it is time that documentation is made at each gathering, such as numbers served, names of volunteers, procedures followed, and most importantly, videos or photos taken. If there should be an instance where it is FNB's word vs. the condo commandos....FNB had better be ready to defend their position. I hope I am just being overly suspicious, but you have heard about being "safe not sorry".
Let me know how you and the others feel about this. I am happy to assist in any way at all while I am still in town. I have plans to be away from the 7th of April through the 2nd of May.
Peace and Perserverance, Trudy