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The Anarchives (tao@lglobal.com)
Sat, 18 May 1996 20:47:54 +0000 (GMT)


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Date: Sat, 18 May 1996 12:25:12 -0400
From: ACT@myth.org

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In the summer of 1989, Food Not Bombs San Francisco, in a
solidarity demonstration with homeless, received an injunction
against them from serving free food anywhere in the city and
county of San Francisco without appropriate permits.

But in July of 1990, the Recreation and Parks Commission
changed it's rule, eliminating the permit process for any regular
food servings in public parks. This left FNB in a funny
situation. They were legally told that they could not serve free
food in parks without a permit. But as of July `90, no permits
were able to be attained.

Under this context, the arrests of FNB volunteers
continued, and reaches heights in the first thousands today. Only
20 people of the thousand odd were actually charged of the
felony of giving away free food to hungry people. But Robert
Norse Kahn, AKA "Bathrobespierre", is the first person to be
sentenced for the crime, 7 years after the injunction was passed.

The trial of Robert Kahn provided many interesting events.
The first might be the states inability to get a local judge to
deal with the case. An out of town judge had to be brought in.

During the trial, critical evidence was disallowed. The
defense was not permitted to talk about San Francisco mayor Frank
Jordan's electoral campaign "Frank's For Frank!", were he gave
away free wieners without a permit in a park.

The jury too was told to regard the injunction against FNB
as lawful. Even though Supreme Court Judge said in 1991, that
it was impossible for the group to obey if the continued there
food program.

Kahn's judge refused to entertain the defense of "necessity"
(that any `harm' done was counterbalanced by the need of
impoverished people living out of doors to have regular hot
food). He refused to consider the defense of "equitable
estoppel", meaning that since the injunction was not enforced
from January 1992 to August 1993 when FNB served twice daily in
Civic Center Plaza, it was unfair and unreasonable to suddenly
begin enforcement as part of Mayor Jordan's "Matrix" program
agenda.

The judge declined to allow extensive expert testimony about
homeless food needs and the inadequacy of existing food services.
He refused to allow testimony that not one case of sickness or
genuine health complaint has ever been made regarding FNB in it's
million+ meals in San Francisco since 1988. The jury was also
cautioned not to vote its conscience, but to adhere to the letter
of the law.

Attempts to subpoena Parks an Recreation official mary Burns
on the key issue of the lack of Park Permit process were thwarted
by Ms. Burns' abrupt departure for Disneyland. The court
declined to sanction Burns or compel her to be present.

Most incredible was Kahn's principal witness, Keith McHenry,
a founder and longtime negotiator for FNB, was abruptly jailed on
45 thousand dollar bail because he was thought to be a "danger to
society". Ironically this happened the day that testimony in
Kahn's trial began. McHenry was released several hours after
testimonial process was completed without bail. Authorities said
this conflict was an accident.

Robert Kahn was, of course, found guilty in the 15 000 dollar
trial, and faced a 6 month sentence.

According to Kahn, "Dozen's of police officers were present
at the sentencing. People were searched twice and pretzels were
confiscated." The judge sentenced Kahn to two month's of hard
time. Kahn was released on his on recognizance pending his
appeal.

As of now, Kahn's appeal is underway. Kahn and lawyer are
attempting to have his sentence commuted. District Attorney
Hallinan, who served free food with FNB in the past, is working
on having Kahn agree to stay out of trouble for a year to have
the sentence removed. This would possibly mean that he would
have to hold back his criminal urges to share free food during
this period. Hearings on Kahn's trial were delayed to May 8th or
possibly 18th.

Next time you are in San Francisco and a criminal offers you
a free meal, be sure to run directly to the authorities and don
not forget to press charges. We sure would not want people to
demystify the commodification of food. And besides if law were
not inforced, were would the power of the state be left?

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