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(en) US, Modesto CA, Direct Action Anti-Authoritarians (DAAA) Collective and Homeless Reclaim Modesto Park Against Police Harassment, Celebrate New Shelter

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 24 Nov 2003 17:24:48 +0100 (CET)

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On Nov. 23rd, Direct Action Anti-Authoritarians (DAAA), and it's
collectives Food Not Bombs and Mutual Aid of Modesto, and between
300-400 homeless people reclaimed Tower Park in downtown for 8
hours with music, banners, food, and mutual aid.

The day started out at 10am, when about 200-250+ homeless people
and concerned community members gathered in Tower Park for the
breakfast feed. Vegan pancakes, sandwiches, chili and other foods
were fed, and organizers had to make a couple trips to the store to
accommodate the large number of people there. Sleeping bags,
clothes, and bed sheets where supplied via a Food Not Bombs
sub-collective, Mutual Aid, and a homeless family with extra clothes,
to people already living in the harsh realities of winter.

By 11am, a large tent was set up by the picnic table, and many people
where lying on the grass enjoying music, and talking with friends. A
large "Food Not Bombs" banner covered the side of one man's van,
"Who's Park? Our Park?" was erected in front of the tent with the help
of some young children and their fine spray paint job, and a huge,
"Mutual Aid" banner was put up between trees on the side of the

One man brought out a small mike and PA, and a homeless man Tim
talked about the need for unity in the homeless community, and ending
with a chant of "unity". A Food Not Bombs member then spoke on the
recent success of an emergency shelter in Modesto, that would be
effective in early December. The shelter which used to be a computer
warehouse came to be when the owner gave the building to the city as
a tax write-off. This shelter means victory for homeless and local
groups in the community who have been fighting for an alternative to
the Modesto Gospel Mission, who many homeless people view as
religiously strict and unwelcoming to families.

By 12 noon, the police had driven by numerous times, and made no
attempt to enter the park. The Coalition for Homelessness made an
appearance and brought extra food, and around 1pm the "Wheels of
Justice" bus tour also arrived. The Wheels of Justice is a group of
activists who visit and live in Iraq and Palestine, and tour the US with
tells of eyewitness to the effects of US foreign policy. The bus was
open to interested people, and Wheels of Justice activists brought
literature out and talked to people. A short radio interview was also
conducted with a Santa Cruz Pirate Radio station, going over the
history of Food Not Bombs Modesto, and also how the park
"reclaiming" was going.

By 4pm, the police had made one appearance, but left quickly, and
without incident. The dinner meal was served to a crowd of about
60-80+ people. A large banner/"letter" was also created that was from
"Food Not Bombs", and to the "Modesto Police". On it homeless
people could write message to the police via markers, and many
people took the opportunity to vent their frustrations. "Leave us
alone", was a common theme. Others wrote about the loss of liberties
at the hands of the police, and of harassment just for basic human
functions like needing a place to stay. Without a shelter for homeless
people to go to, there is no where to go, and being homeless in a sense
becomes illegal. Sleeping in parks warrants tickets, and sleeping in
vacant buildings is illegal, and the Modesto Mission is uninviting and
often full; this situation leaves many homeless people with no choice
but to try and hide from the police, many times unsuccessfully.

At around 7pm, about 7 Food Not Bombs activists entered the
Modesto Police Department to deliver the "letter" to the Chief of
Police. He was not on the job at the time, but the "letter" was
delivered, and a clerk took it and put it on his desk. When asked who it
was from, the group only replied, "FOOD NOT BOMBS!"

This has been another victory for the Modesto group, who organized
this event mainly through talking with homeless people, wheat paste
campaigns, and passing out flyers. The majority of the organizing
credit goes mainly to the homeless people themselves doing the
organizing by flyering and talking with friends. With the opening of the
emergency shelter, the homeless community can declare victory with
one of their major goals being completed.

Food Not Bombs Modesto feeds every Sunday, two Tuesdays a
month, and distros clothes twice a month as well. DAAA does other
events relating to homelessness, and dealing with other issues, and
also puts out a newszine, "Northern Californian Anti-Authoritarian".
Reach us at: modanarcho@yahoo.com , or go to:

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