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June 11, 2006 - Food Not Bombs Activist Arrested in Venice, CA

by Venice/Santa Monica Food Not Bombs Tuesday, Jun. 13, 2006 at 7:40 PM P.O.Box 2881, Venice CA 90291

Venice/Santa Monica Food Not Bombs member arrested on Venice Beach Boardwalk following a series of on-going harassments, tickets, and police threats to arrest volunteers.

June 11, 2006 - Food Not Bombs Activist Arrested in Venice, CA

Venice/Santa Monica Food Not Bombs members were serving free food and giving away free literature on the Venice Beach Boardwalk Sunday morning when the LAPD singled out and arrested Food Not Bombs member Peggy Lee Kennedy, a third-generation Venice resident who was video taping from across the Boardwalk. This arrest follows a series of on-going harassments, tickets, police threats to arrest volunteers, and a police escorted health department visit and warning. Peggy was arrested for aledgedly violating a newly twice re-created vending law for the west side of the Venice Beach Boardwalk – once famous for its Free Speech Zone activity.

The law, Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) 42.15, is masquerading as an ordinance created to control vending and fights over space in what once was a more fluid area, where people could participate in first amendment activity - first come first serve. The older law was not perfect (a one-page municipal code prohibiting commercial vending), but a minor adjustment to restrict total space allowed per person could have solved many of the problems.

In stead, the latest of two successive bad Boardwalk vending laws is four-pages centered in controlling public space. Further to the actual City law, there are four or five more pages of governing rules created by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Some of the issues are:
· Restrictions and harassment of the Free Speech activists refusing to participate in the unfair vendor/permit/lottery system.
· Outlawing original political t-shirts offered for donations on the west side while sweatshop political t-shirts are being sold by stores on the east side.
· A fifty-foot noise rule directed at performers on the west side of the Boardwalk and targeting one very out-spoken African-American performer in particular, but not targeting the loud businesses and bars on the east side.
· And LAPD ticketing, harassing, and arresting those of us considered to be hurting precious property values, such as Food Not Bombs.

The law, very simply, is being used to further a gentrification agenda and rid Venice Beach of any remaining low-income people, people living an alternate [Venice Beach] lifestyle, and any unsightly homeless people. Bring in the cookie-cutter artists and get rid of the likes of us!

Venice/Santa Monica Food Not Bombs members were not vending or soliciting donations, not blocking a throughway, and not taking some permit vendor’s assigned space won in the rotten lottery system. They were protesting war and poverty by giving away free literature and free food to hungry people in unoccupied public space, which is supposed to be set aside for First Amendment activity.

Further to this, the west of the Venice Beach Boardwalk was officially declared a Free Speech Zone (maybe they really meant on Mars!) in the motion accompanying the passing of the latest LAMC 42.15, and Venice/Santa Monica Food Not Bombs firmly believes that the intent of this act should be to protect First Amendment activity, not to create a “Police State Zone” law used to harass or arrest political activists, the homeless, or anyone else they do not like on the Venice Beach Boardwalk.

For these reasons and more, the Venice/Santa Monica Chapter of Food Not Bombs demands that the City of Los Angeles, including its paid politicians, its City Attorneys, and the Los Angeles Police Department:
1. Stop making or enforcing laws that violate our constitutional rights to assemble, give out free political literature, protest war and poverty, and give away free vegetarian food on Venice Boardwalk.
2. Stop harassing or arresting any person for violating ridiculous “vending laws” in a publicly declared Free Speech Zone on Venice Boardwalk, especially if they are not vending.
3. Stop working with developers and citizen groups, such as neighborhood watch, to actively remove homeless, low-income, or people with alternative life-styles from Venice.
4. Publicly apologize to the homeless, musicians, artists, activists, and low-income or working-class people in Venice for destroying their “Quality of Life.”

The City of Los Angeles has enforced LAMC 42.15 on Venice Beach with an army of police using high-tech surveillance to crush the bohemian artist/activist Free Speech Zone community - paving the way for a NIMBY maximized “Profit Control Zone.”

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The Half Truth

by The other voice Friday, Jun. 16, 2006 at 6:28 PM

To the author of this story: Is this the whole story? Was Peggy Kennedy cited by the same police department only hours earlier for doing the same crime? Doesn't this action demonstrate your organizations obvious disregard for the community and the rules and laws that govern the community? If it is the intent of your organization to distribute food to the homeless, which I think is a decent idea, shouldn't your organization research the legal and cooperative way to do so in that community?
Furthermore, as I watched the actions of your organization and of the police, what message are you sending by screaming negative and nasty comments towards the police as they perform their job to create a peaceful environment for you? My suggestion to you, stop spending so much time going against the machine and start working within the confines of the community. And when you are arrested for violating the rules of the community, give the whole story and not the politically biased version generating sympathy, uproar and hate in an effort to spin your audience.

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Why Spread Disinformation about Food Not Bombs?

by Venice/Santa Monica Food Not Bombs Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 4:29 PM

The Venice chapter of Food Not Bombs protests war and military spending while it shares warm and hearty vegetarian meals with hungry people in public places.

1st disinformation correction:
Giving away free food is not a crime and displaying a protest sign saying “Food Not Bombs,” is an act protected by the highest law in our country.

Venice Food Not Bombs is grounded in peaceful non-violent principles. The foundation of Food Not Bombs, a worldwide organization with over 300 chapters, is based on Gandhi’s teachings of non-violence.

2nd disinformation correction:
Our members were not screaming negative comments to the police. We cannot control what others do. It is strange that you do not remember the loudest person there (also not part of our group) commenting about what the police were doing by quoting the bible: “Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do.”

Venice Food Not Bombs actively opposes anti-poor or anti-homeless laws, policies and practices though acts of peaceful non-violent resistance. There is no peace in a community when others are forced to suffer for the prosperity or visual comfort of others.

3rd disinformation correction:
Venice Food Not Bombs is very committed to working in the community and recognizes that walls exist between homeless people and others due to economics or life-style. So we encourage participation, which helps to create a process of community building and empowerment for those without access to power. Through this and more, we are committed to the creation of a peaceful, egalitarian society.

Find more about Food Not Bombs at

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Feeding the Poor a moral imperative

by Becky Johnson of HUFF Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 6:10 AM

THE OTHER VOICE WRITES: "Doesn't this action demonstrate your organizations obvious disregard for the community and the rules and laws that govern the community? If it is the intent of your organization to distribute food to the homeless, which I think is a decent idea, shouldn't your organization research the legal and cooperative way to do so in that community?"

BECKY: Food Not Bombs workers keep track of and protest the myriad of anti-homeless laws which communities like Santa Monica pass regularly to force homeless people to hide out of sight. These laws rarely pass constitutional muster ---as they violate the first amendment, are thinly-disguised loitering laws (many of which were declared unconstitutional in the mid '80's) violate the 4th amendment right to privacy (such as seizure of homeless people's possessions) or the 8th amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual treatment (prohibiting volunteers from giving free food to hungry, homeless people, or laws which outlaw sleeping at night) or are unconstitutional because they are selectively enforced.

THE OTHER VOICE would have us believe that these laws are reasonable and fairly enforced, rather than rammed thru by business interests with little regard for constitutional guarantees.

Homeless people are the canaries in the mineshaft that warn us of the impending removal of all of our rights. If you can arrest a grubby, homeless man for asking for spare change, then its not long before they can arrest the man in the tie and business suit as he asks for donations for a candidate for office.

THE OTHER VOICE is most likely unaware of the resignation of City Attorney Bob Meyers when he refused to write a law which bans serving free food in Santa Monica's City parks. Likewise, the imperative of FNB's to feed hungry people with nutritious organic food (usually MUCH better than what they are served in most institutional feeding programs) far outweighs the "lawfullness" of complying with some merchant-driven anti-homeless ordinance which is most likely unconstitutional.

However, each person must weigh the consequences should they violate any law.

I am unclear whether Ms. Kennedy purposely violated the ordinance as an act of civil disobedience, or was caught up in some kind of legal net designed to drive FNB's from the area. Either way, Kennedy and FNB's deserves our continued support.

If we are a caring, compassionate people who believe in protecting our freedoms, we cannot stand idly by or worse, throw pot-shots at those who are fighting for us.

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