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(en) US, Modesto Anarcho #1 - They Try and Catch us Cookin’ Dirty: Police go after Food Not Bombs

Date Tue, 24 Oct 2006 08:20:35 +0200

Several months ago, D.A.A.A. Collective moved it’s Food Not
Bombs program out of Graceada Park in Modesto, to over by the
Modesto Gospel Mission. After getting close to 50 or so people at
Graceada Park, attendance had gone down, and we wanted to move
somewhere where we would get a set number of people. We decided
to feed outside of the Mission for several reasons. First, it was a nice
location where lots of people would have access to the food, clothes,
canned goods, and free literature. Also, we have in the past
organized against the Modesto Gospel Mission, because of it’s
authoritarian nature and policies, (for more information on houseless
objects to the Mission, view our website). There is also the fact that
members of the management have been investigated for money
laundry! In essence, Food Not Bombs is a shinning example of the
gift economy in action, and also a celebration of solidarity not charity
in opposition to the Gospel Mission.
Food Not Bombs first started to do our picnics across the street from
the Gospel Mission, and this worked fine for about a month. Then,
security guards who worked for the Mission, (part of their
“disciple program”), one week tried to stop houseless people
from crossing the street, eating, and then coming back on to the
Mission’s property. This prompted many people to tell us to just
to ignore the Mission, and the rent a pigs who worked for them, (on
top of various masturbatory hand signals made in their direction),
but we had a better idea. The next week we set up right in front of
the Missions doors, but on the sidewalk where it was not technically
the Mission’s property. This worked out very well for several
weeks, and we also were able to have lots of good conversations with
people. Literature regarding squatting, dealing with the police,
shoplifting, as well as information on other topics was made
available, and often we ran out of material.
We thought that we had a good thing going for us, and with the
steady stream of people going to the Mission every night, the
possibilities for doing Food Not Bombs was endless! However, in
late August, the Modesto Bee ran a small piece letting people know
where and when Food Not Bombs served. Either because of this, or
because they were tired of us, the Gospel Mission called the police to
clear us out.
When police arrived, we had a large group of about 8 or so people
doing FNB. Another group was also present with us, “Shut Up
and Eat It”, a radical ‘Rainbow Gathering’ inspired
group that goes around dumpster diving food, and feeding it in
public areas. Police quickly told us that we were in violation of
various laws, including blocking the sidewalk, and giving out food
without a health permit. While we weren’t blocking the
sidewalk, we did not have a health permit, nor do we want one. We
have always taken care to wash and prepare food safely, unlike
various fast food and industrial farming industries, who routinely
have food poisoning problems, (despite holding numerous permits).
While arguing with the police, we asked them to present the codes
that they were citing, and they said that they did not have the codes
on them. They did say however, that if we were back next week,
they would have them, and they would ticket us. Police also briefly
detained a man who called one of the officers a, “fat fuck”,
although he was later released after about 30 minutes with no
We had no real interest in legitimizing our projects in the eyes of the
city or the state, (meaning we ain’t getting no damn licenses)!
But we also wanted to continue to do Food Not Bombs outside of
the Mission. We came to a very radical conclusion! We should talk
to the houseless community and see what they think. Since several
of us are squatters, frequent dumpster divers, and also often use the
library as our only computer access, (and thus, part of the houseless
community), this of course was easy. We went to several locations
and asked groups of people what they thought of the incidents with
the police, and what they think Food Not Bombs should do. The
response from the people was largely the same. They all said that the
police were fucked up, and that the Mission was fucked up in
general, and stupid for calling the police. They appreciated Food Not
Bombs, and wanted it to continue. People within the houseless
community suggested a parking lot that serves as a houseless
hangout before the Mission opens as a place to do Food Not Bombs,
and it looked like our problems were solved!
Since then we have been practicing gift economy across the street,
without problems from the Mission, or the pigs. One week a man
came up to us and said, “See you took our advice, you listened to
the people, fuck all that other bullshit!” We couldn’t agree
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