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Arrested for Feeding the Hungry

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    Undercover officers filmed the food line, meticulously counting Montanez serving 30 unidentified persons food from a large pot utilizing a ladle, according
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2007
      "Undercover officers filmed the food line, meticulously counting
      Montanez serving "30 unidentified persons food from a large pot
      utilizing a ladle," according to an arrest affidavit."

      Keith McHenry
      April 5, 2007
      Orlando Sentinel

      Food Not Bombs volunteer Eric Montanez, 21, was arrested Wednesday,
      April 4th for feeding the hungry in Orlando, Florida in the United
      States. This past July the cities of Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas,
      Nevada passed laws making it illegal to feed the hungry. Other cities
      also tried to ban Food Not Bombs but their efforts failed. The City
      of San Francisco made over 1,000 arrests starting on August 15, 1988
      but after spending over a million dollars and failing to stop the
      group the city gave up and let Food Not Bombs continue with it's work.
      When the public saw you could get arrested for feeding the hungry
      people from all over the world contacted San Francisco Food Not Bombs
      to see how they could start a local chapter. Today there are Food Not
      Bombs groups in hundreds of cities all over the world.

      Last month 15 Food Not Bombs volunteers were arrested in St.
      Petersburg, Russia when the started to serve their weekly meal. They
      were questioned for several hours before they were freed. Neo Nazi
      groups had been attacking the meal. One volunteer was stabbed to
      death in November 2005 and this year a time bomb exploded when the
      groups was set to start serving but they were late. Early this year a
      Food Not Bombs activist was stabbed 20 times by a neo Nazis as he was
      leaving the meal. The arrests were in connection with the attacks on
      Food Not Bombs according to the Russian police.

      The Food Not Bombs movement organized the food relief for the
      survivors of Katrina delivering the first meals to New Orleans three
      days after the storm passed. Food Not Bombs activist collected food
      and gathered volunteers in communities all over America and drove
      buses and trucks to the Gulf Region to help. On January 5th the New
      Orleans Food Not Bombs coordinator Helen Hill was shoot to death in
      front of her husband and child.

      Food Not Bombs volunteers from all over North America will be
      supporting the Orlando group. Many volunteers plan to go to Florida to
      help cook and risk arrest. The ACLU and other organizations are also
      supporting Orlando Food Not Bombs. Just as in the other cases where
      cities tried to stop Food Not Bombs Orlando will soon stop violating
      the rights of its people and let Food Not Bombs continue to feed the


      Arrest is first under homeless-feeding law
      Willoughby Mariano
      Sentinel Staff Writer
      Posted April 5, 2007

      A long-simmering dispute between homeless advocates and Orlando
      officials intensified Wednesday with the arrest of an activist feeding
      transients in Lake Eola Park downtown.

      Eric Montanez, 21, is the first to be arrested under the city's
      controversial ordinance that bars feeding large groups of people in
      downtown parks without a special permit.

      The rule was approved last summer after residents and businesses in
      Orlando's gentrifying downtown complained that parks were being used
      as soup kitchens.

      The arrest enraged volunteers, who said it was proof that the city
      cares little for its neediest residents.

      "Police are arresting people for feeding the homeless," local ACLU
      President George Crossley said. "This has been a truly disgusting day."

      Calls to Mayor Buddy Dyer and a city spokeswoman were not returned.
      Police spokeswoman Sgt. Barbara Jones said the arrest was warranted.

      "Our job is to enforce the rules," she said.

      Homeless advocates and city officials have butted heads since the
      passage of the ordinance in July. The law bars groups from feeding
      more than 25 people without a special permit. Groups may have two
      permits per year.

      The Central Florida ACLU filed suit in Orlando's U.S. District Court
      in October arguing the ordinance is unconstitutional. Meanwhile,
      activists skirted the rule by having several organizations host the
      weekly Lake Eola meals, and making sure no one group served more than
      25 people.

      Police kept close tabs, sometimes taking photos and ticketing
      volunteers' cars.

      Jacqueline Dowd, lead counsel in the suit, said tensions seemed to
      ease last month when police said publicly that the ordinance would not
      be enforced until a court rules on its legality.

      Montanez is one of the federal suit's plaintiffs, as is his group
      Orlando Food Not Bombs. Crossley and others expressed concern that
      police are being used to bully people who sue the city.

      "This is absolutely an instance of intimidation," he said. "There's no
      question about it."

      The arrest came about 5:15 p.m. Food Not Bombs, CodePink, an anti-war
      group, and the local Young Communist League fed 35 people rice, stew,
      salad and bread pudding.

      Undercover officers filmed the food line, meticulously counting
      Montanez serving "30 unidentified persons food from a large pot
      utilizing a ladle," according to an arrest affidavit.

      Police approached Montanez and asked for his identification. They
      considered issuing him a summons on the misdemeanor count, but when he
      tossed his ID, police took him into custody, the affidavit says.

      Jonathan Giralt, 16, a Boone High School junior who was near Montanez,
      disagreed with the police account. He and other volunteers said the
      activist showed his ID and complied with police orders.

      "I was like, OK, this guy [Montanez] is going to be arrested for
      absolutely nothing," Jonathan said. "It makes me feel unsafe."

      Police also collected a vial of stew as evidence.

      Montanez remained in the Orange County Jail late Wednesday with bail
      set at $250.

      Willoughby Mariano can be reached at wmariano@... or



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