Monday, November 17, 2014

Editorial & Week 3 Updates

This post is a bit of a change of pace from the others. It is long because it is extremely important.

This is the admin, Nathan Pim. I have been chronicling the  experience of "Resisting Fort Lauderdale's Homeless Hate Laws" on this blog alongside Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs. The events of the past few weeks has been an amazing validation of the importance of fighting the criminalization of homelessness. Countless warnings of a time of reckoning for the City are now becoming fulfilled. Where once I wrote on this blog about the history of homelessness  in Stranahan Park as a matter of posterity, the Sun Sentinel's own recent chronicle demonstrates that this is now a matter of major public interest.

After posting a nauseating editorial from the  Mayor last week, Sun Sentinel doubled down yesterday with an Editorial Board letter that seemed to  almost beg the City to start acting like they care before sharing ban detractors actually get what they want. It seems the big, powerful folk aren't too happy that we have a voice now, too. Here's an editorial toast to making it last.

We Are Just Getting Started In The Streets, The Courts, Everywhere.

Citation on Friday
Food Not Bombs' Friday sharing was not interfered with, but 3 more tickets were issued afterwards. More significantly, 3 local networks broadcast this occurrence live on their 6 pm broadcasts, continuing a 12 day trend of non-stop media attention on those that share food  with the homeless. More and more supporters also appeared from an unusual variety of backgrounds. For those still going out sharing, it seems as if they are further away than ever from being shut down. If anything the opposite is becoming true.

The crisis looks to be  headed  into court...but also into a tourist-packed holiday season quickly followed by Fort Lauderdale's City elections. The resistance to  discrimination against the homeless is becoming one of the greatest challenges to authority seen in South Florida in years. We now live in a time of unprecedented opportunity to advance the cause of the disenfranchised of Fort Lauderdale.

Sharings Downtown Don't Just Need To Be Defended, But Expanded.

It is important to understand the complex reality of the food sharings in downtown.  For instance, while there is a massive  upsurge in  public support for these sharings,  there are actually only a handful of groups or individuals defying this law. Besides those that have been "caught sharing" by the FLPD, some groups, such as The Peanut Butter & Jelly Project, have continued to share so far without being ticketed.  Another regular sharing group, Project Downtown Fort Lauderdale, has been circumventing the sharing ban by moving to a church parking lot. Love Thy Neighbor's beach sharings became a rockstar civil disobedience spectacle last Wednesday, backed by a lawsuit...but their downtown sharing was held on private property Sunday for a 3rd week. A number of other "car sharings" have gone on to varying degrees of success.

More and more groups are announcing sharings over the coming weeks to resist this law, but the food supply downtown at the moment seems to be somewhat diminished. Unfortunately the constant pressure of inequality in South Florida, if anything, demands an increase in these social services.

Homeless Hate Laws Are A Smokescreen For Institutionalized Class Oppression.

Downtown demolition for AAF
Also significant is that, while the sharing ban is almost certain to go down in flames, the plans to displace the disenfranchised downtown are going to move ahead regardless. The construction work for the developments surrounding "All Aboard Florida" is just beginning. For  those that are not  aware, this privately-funded commuter train station for downtown Fort Lauderdale is going to be built right on top of the area where the vast majority of chronically homeless people live in this area. The City has been slowly rolling up the disused parking lot spaces in this area for years, but this trend is quickly accelerating alongside the passage of these hate  laws. Condos and boutique stores will soon follow. Nowhere in this multi-million dollar development is there any mention of what will happen to the destitute people who already live there.

Park intimidation tactics circa 2011
Regardless of which sharings are moved where, or what legal challenges are moving ahead in the coming months, the root problem of this crisis is class discrimination and oppression. Fort Lauderdale courts and police have colluded for years to completely strip the rights of homeless people away and treat them with total impunity. In the past few weeks, public outcry over this inequality has gained momentum to the point that there is a real chance to change the status  quo in Fort Lauderdale. It is more urgent than ever to demand progressive solutions to disenfranchised people in downtown, and not to wait to see how Salvation Army, the  Broward Outreach Center, etc. are going to put another band-aid on a crisis they are themselves perpetuating.

Regardless of the rationale behind your support of the campaign to stop the sharing ban and resist homeless hate laws, we all have to stay united to completely change the institutions that truly perpetuate homelessness here and throughout the nation.

Even more so than the Mayor are police harassment, ineffective social services, ultra-rich/corporate interests,  austerity politics, and government misrule the real Homeless Hate Regime.

"Sign On To Resist" and "Learn About the Ordinances" are now completely updated. Most importantly there is a NEW MASTER CONTACT LIST for supporters of the Hate Laws. Please let people know there are far more people out there responsible for supporting these laws than Mayor Magic Jack. Call them, write them, send them a hunger strike video, and we'll have plenty more news about ways to get involved throughout the week...Resist Homeless Hate Laws.

Finally, thank you to everyone around the world for supporting my wife's hunger strike. Please check out these 2 new videos about this effort. Today is day 15 for my dear wife, and day 4 for Thursday.

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