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!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Haylee vs. Mayor

The public indecency revision and private property ban passed second readings tonight. Representatives from the National Coalition to End Homelessness, National Lawyer's Guild, Homeless Voice, Love Thy Neighbor, and others all came to voice their opposition. Here's Haylee from Food Not Bombs taking down the City officials' terrible arguments (even when they tried to raise  the terrorism menace!).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Round 2 is Tonight

The unprecedented Fort Lauderdale anti-homeless campaign takes another step forward at City Hall tonight. Advocates working to stop these laws will be gathering at Stranahan Park at 5 pm  to rally and walk to the meeting. Beyond the second vote on the public indecency and private property ordinances, at least 3 more similar ordinances are in the works. Here's the press release from two of the groups organizing against the "Homeless Hate Laws:"

This evening, May 6, at 6pm, two ordinances limiting the rights of homeless persons to engage in life-sustaining behavior will receive second readings at the regular 6pm meeting of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission.  As they were for the first readings of these ordinances on April 15, members of the homeless and homeless advocacy communities plan to be out in full force to speak against the ordinances and to demand an end to the ongoing harassment of homeless persons including their exclusion from Stranahan Park, along with permanent housing for the city's over 500 chronically homeless individuals.  Supporters of the homeless will hold a rally beginning at 5pm at Stranahan Park, then march to City Hall one block away for the start of the meeting.

On January 29, the City of Fort Lauderdale announced at a public workshop meeting its intent to pass a series of ordinances which would respectively criminalize the life-sustaining activity of homeless persons by 1) effectively banning groups from the charitable act of sharing food with homeless and other hungry persons; 2) banning storing personal property, camping and other life-sustaining activity on public property; 3) banning solicitation in rights of way.   While city officials have stated their commitment to house chronically homeless persons in conjunction with the federal 'Housing First' and '100,000 Homes' campaigns, the City's plan to house only 22 such individuals while it vilifies the vast majority for eating, sleeping and having some meager possessions outdoors, as mandated by their homeless state, is mere window dressing on a national trend to criminalize life-sustaining behavior on the part of the vast majority of homeless persons.

The proposal which would enable police to seize the possessions of homeless persons drew the most ire in local and national media, with Op-Ed News headlining its take on the city's newly ramped up meanness "Fort Lauderdale may now lead the Country In Heartlessness Towards The Homeless."

While local homeless advocates have been confronting efforts by the City to criminalize and/or ban life-

sustaining acts like food sharing for decades, this time around even the founder of the nation's largest homeless organization, the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), based in Washington, D.C., has entered the fray.  Michael Stoops, now serving as NCH's Director of Community Organizing, had this to say about the commission's proposals:

"These proposed ordinances run counter to Ft. Lauderdale’s plan to end homelessness.   Making it illegal to be homeless is really the economic profiling of the homeless population.  Criminalizing homelessness has been tried before in your city and it hasn’t accomplished anything other than jailing the homeless and costing taxpayers.  The city should focus on housing the homeless vs. arresting them."

Stoops is in Fort Lauderdale to shine a national spotlight on the city's efforts to criminalize homelessness and plans, along with a host of local homeless advocates, to speak against the ordinances up for second readings and likely passage this evening.   Ordinances must be given two public readings before the commission can vote on them.


Stay tuned for news from tonight's meeting and also some announcements about upcoming events homeless advocates are planning to raise opposition to the "Homeless Hate Laws."