Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"War on The Homeless" On The SFL News

Last night's investigation piece by Bob Norman shed a light on homelessness in Ft Lauderdale in a refreshing way. How so? The most oppositional voice featured was City Commissioner Dean Trantalis. Besides that, longtime downtown homeless people and advocates told their stories and the effects of Homeless Hate Laws.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Since the City is still on recess, this should be an interesting reflection for the people of Fort Lauderdale about the cost of enforcing the new way of life in downtown. Bob Norman's piece really brings out voices of people who have suffered the effects of the city's assault on the homeless in a way most people don't want to comfort. City Commission returns in just over 30 days!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Introducing The Mini-Comics

We're gearing up to the fall, and another attempt to pass Homeless Hate Laws in Fort Lauderdale. Here's the first of a series of Mini-comics for Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs being made to wake people up to how the criminalization of homeless hate laws is affecting the people of Fort Lauderdale.

Print out these mini comics and fold them up!

More mini-comics coming soon! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Recess Updates

Hate Law Can Kicked Into The Fall

Summer recess for City Commission is nigh. This means that at best, any new Homeless Hate Laws, as originally proposed in January or otherwise, will not likely be voted on and enacted prior to September.

Unfortunately, although the opportunity to use a public platform to speak about the criminalization of the homeless will abate, attacks and oppression against unwanted elements downtown is sure to last all summer long as always. Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs will be sharing every Friday and offering educational workshops on civil rights and other topics coming soon to Stranahan Park.

Locked Out of Stranahan

Since the fence went up around Stranahan Park, this front gate keeps getting locked during park hours, at least 3 times  in the past week. But no one knows who, not the Chief of Police or the City Attorney. Vigilante locksmiths?

Confusion Over Private Property Ordinance

Contrary to a recent article at Broward New Times, the City Attorney has confirmed that the first of the new Homeless Hate Laws, the private property in public space ban, is being enforced. However it does seem to be true that so far this law has not been used on anyone. Rampant theft and disposal of homeless property by police, city works employees, security, and volunteers in the Stranahan Park area continue as usual.

Fallout From Last City Commission's Gay Marriage Resolution

Mayor Jack Seiler may be popular amongst the city status quo, but he's earned the wrath of another powerful interest in the greater Fort Lauderdale area. His scornful downvote for a completely symbolic gay marriage resolution at last week's City Commission puts him at odds with a political movement growing more powerful every year both locally and nationally. On a completely unrelated note, did you know that Jack is up for re-election in 17 months?

Finally, kudos to homeless advocates in Pensacola. After recently launching a permanent homeless camp from a small bitcoin fortune, and successfully defending it from the City's best attempts to shut it down, the Pensacola establishment is finding itself even further from the side of justice this week. Occupy Pensacola's lawsuit stemming from their eviction in 2011 was re-opened by a federal appeals court. Escambia county's malfeasance and neglect with the way they treat their impoverished residents has never been more glaring. Did we also mention their jail recently exploded?

They've proved that the system in Florida can be held to account for discriminatorily destroying homeless people's rights. We'll keep that in mind. 2 months of resistance to homeless hate laws...many more to come.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Stranahan Park...Public or Private?

The Hate Laws are still in hiding for the  month of June. So we thought we'd take some time to settle an annoying and chronic question: "Is Stranahan Park a public park?"


A Brief History of Stranahan Park

For thousands of years the Tequesta people lived in South Florida, but disease brought by the Spanish and migration saw the area virtually uninhabited by the time of the "Seminole." The Seminole Indians were originally displaced tribes and marooned slaves who fled to Florida in the early 19th century. After the Seminole Wars, it is thought that only a few hundred Seminoles remained in the entire state, taking refuge in the Everglades. 1 2

When Frank Stranahan opened up his trading post (and thereby founding modern day Fort Lauderdale) in the 1890's, we see one of the first  historical mentions of Stranahan Park - it was where Seminole traders would make camp every winter when they came into town. 3

In 1914, Frank Stranahan gave the Fort Lauderdale Woman's Club their property and gave the rest of the block to the city for a park. In 1917, The Fort Lauderdale Woman's Club completed their clubhouse, and Stranahan Park was developed over the course of several years by filling the park with excess dirt from nearby Indian burial mounds. There were many amenities including shuffleboard courts, a bandstand, drinking fountain, and as legends tell, restrooms. 4

Not a whole lot of interest seems to have happened in Stranahan Park in the next 100 years. The Main Library is completed in 1984. At some point, the park becomes a focal point for chronically homeless people. And the Women's Club, aggressively seeking new funding for needed renovations, doesn't seem to like that. 5 6 7

In the 2000's, homeless advocacy and mutual aid groups fight off several attempts at being shut down, most notably "Arnold Abbott v. City of Fort Lauderdale." The City loses most of these battles. 8 9

Woman tackled and arrested for
questioning police brutality in park, 1.23.2014
However from 2009 on the city and establishment press seem to have it in for the users of Stranahan Park. The press goes absolutely hysterical over discovering that a released, convicted child killer is living there in 2010. More negative press comes out like clockwork as homeless people are increasingly discouraged from loitering outside the library or in the park. In 2011, the Women's Club completes over $200k worth of renovations, and in 2012, the Women's Club spearheads the creation of the "Stranahan Botanical Garden," and finally the City puts in a steel fence around the park in 2014. Day to day Stranahan Park is now mostly a ghost park. Homeless people who dare to go into it are regularly confronted by police and trespassed back out onto the street- witnessed as recently as last Friday. 10 11 12 13


Park closed by Women's Club, Friday 6.13.14
There is also a widespread  and extremely false belief being spread throughout downtown that Stranahan Park is owned by the Women's Club of Fort Lauderdale. Purveyors of these mistruths vary but include Park Rangers, FLPD officers, security guards, volunteers and members of the Women's Club. Now it is certainly possible that some of these people are being lied to by someone else but at least some of these people are blatantly lying to create the appearance that Stranahan Park is a private park that people can be segregated from based on the  interests of the Women's Club. Many of these rumors include very vague notions that the City sold the park to the Women's Club at some unspecified date. This is also categorically false.
Stranahan Park on Broward County Property Appraiser's website
This by no means explains everything going on with Stranahan Park. What right did the Women's Club have to convert the park into a "Botanical Garden" in the first place? Why did the City spend $80,000 on a fence for a public park whose gates are controlled by the Women's Club? Why do City officials continue to pretend to be blissfully unaware of all these facts?

Regardless, it's time to kill  this stupid, harmful lie with the truth. Would you like to contact the Fort Lauderdale Women's Club/"Friends of the Stranahan Botanical Garden," the FLPD, or the City of Fort Lauderdale and ask them why their people are spreading lies to prevent people from accessing a park that has been public for as long as the City has existed?

Fort Lauderdale Women's Club: 954-761-9407
Mayor Jack Seiler 954-828-5003, Twitter
Lee R. Feldman, City Manager, 954-828-5013, Twitter
Vice Mayor/Commissioner Rogers, 954-828-5004,
Commissioner Roberts (Also ex-Chief of Police)  954-828-5033,
Commissioner Trantalis 954-828-5923,
Commissioner DuBose 954-828-5004, Twitter

Police Chief Frank Adderly: (954)828-5590,
Twitter for FLPD & Police Chief Frank Adderly

That's all for now, see you in the commons!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Art Show Is Kicked Out of Public Park for Decrying the Death of the Commons

Some of the Banned Art
 On Friday, May 30th, homeless advocates came together at Stranahan Park in Downtown Fort Lauderdale for "Public Property: A Reclamative Art Show." Artists spent several weeks preparing sculptures and other artworks for display in a park that Food Not Bombs and countless other groups have held events of all shapes and sizes for years at without any problems.

Instead, the Park Ranger almost immediately said we would "need a permit" for the cardboard box port-a-potties that had so far been harmlessly placed in the grass around the park. Then the Fort Lauderdale Police Department doubled down when they arrived, claiming that these cardboard boxes "blocked traffic in the (completely empty) park" and that "banners have never been allowed in the park."
Banned banner and hermit crab

Ultimately, the art show proved the sad point it was trying to make about "public property" in Fort Lauderdale; it doesn't really exist. But, Food Not Bombs was allowed to continue, inside the park, and people came into it for the first time in months to eat and play games and hang out. Then after some late artists from Thought Coalition showed up we brought out some art regardless and enjoyed some live drawing. For those who have seen the recent downward slope of police assaults and fortifications around Stranahan Park this felt like something of a triumph. Thank you to everyone for participating!

FLPD arrive to shut down the show
We apparently were not alone in our harassment in downtown that night, however, as Fort Lauderdale Critical Mass' new police escort went slightly mad on the people they were escorting, giving people tickets for BS reasons and tackling one person off his bike and pinning him up against a wall on Las Olas. It seems no matter what activity relating to common space is happening in downtown Fort Lauderdale it will dealt with in a consistent manner.

In the meantime, the City's elite wined and dined at the Hilton Ft Lauderdale Marina at a "Wizard of Oz" themed charity event for the Broward Partnership for the Homeless. We do not know if the Mayor attended but we speculate, if he did, that he may have been hiding behind a curtain.
We have fun in the park anyway

Important next date! Next Tuesday, June 3rd, two homeless advocates will be giving citizens' presentations to the Fort Lauderdale City Commission of the effects of the criminalization of the homeless and the foul behavior of the police in downtown. Join us at 6 pm at City there!

Unpermitted art!!!

Until next time!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Public Property: A Reclamative Art Show" Opens May 30th

The first Homeless Hate Laws are going to be enforced starting in June. Not cool Fort Lauderdale!

Therefore, on Friday, May 30th, Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs along with community activists and artists will be responding with an art show in Stranahan Park. "Public Property" is an art show held in the midst of the great American privatization crisis; in Fort Lauderdale those who have no private space to keep their possessions now cannot keep it in public spaces either. Public spaces such as Stranahan Park are now accessible only based on your class and status.

So join us for an evening of vegan food, music, and thought-provoking art that will hopefully bring us a little bit of solidarity and hope in the face of a mounting campaign of bad homeless policies in Broward County.

So far we are expecting submissions of photography, sculpture, canvasses, and  maybe even some live art.

For artists, musicians, and cooks, there's still plenty of opportunity to get involved. If you want to submit a 2d or 3rd art piece please let us know soon through the contact form on the right. Musicians can probably just show up with an instrument but if you want to get a specific period of time let us know. 

"Public Property" Opens from 6-8 pm in Stranahan Park, 10 E Broward Blvd, on May 30th, 2014.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Call For Submissions: "Public Property" Art Show in Response to Anti-Homeless Law

On Tuesday, May 5th, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission effectively passed on second hearing a law banning the storage of private property in public spaces. This Homeless Hate Law has been described as "making life worse for homeless people" by "stealing their stuff." 

Some homeless advocates from Food Not Bombs have decided to respond with a public art show in Stranahan Park. The City has repeatedly denied that displacement practices such as criminalizing where people can put their belongings have a serious negative impact on the  homeless people of downtown. The City's very position of privilege seems to blind them to very notion that binding a person's behavior, and oppressing them, based on their class, is evil. Homeless advocates will continue to truthfully represent the damaging effects of the City's policy...even if we have  to get a little creative.

A simple show with a simple premise, "Public Property" will be taking submissions for the next 20 days of any medium artists wish to submit on the topic of what people can and should do with public spaces - particularly for those that have nothing but public spaces to rely on. They will be displayed the evening of Friday, May 30th, in conjunction with Fort Lauderdale Food Not  Bombs - meaning free vegan food and maybe even some music. Please contact us at swampzine at gmail  to let us  know if you would like to make a submission. We will probably have a couple of brainstorming meetings with those interested.

More info soon!