Sunday, November 8, 2015

Support All Saints' Soup Kitchen

For years, All Saints Catholic Mission has been resisting efforts to have its food sharing criminalized by the City of Oakland Park. Last year, the City finally voted to have All Saints shut down, citing complaints by neighboring businesses and residences. The new rule adopted in 2014 banned "parishes" in this part of Oakland Park; a restriction that is solely directed at All Saints and its daily meals to the needy.

Since receiving a cease and desist order last Tuesday, the Mission has presumably been racking up thousands in citations for refusing it, this act has also prompted the parish to take new steps to demand that the City of Oakland Park stop targeting them and the people who rely on them. 

Father Bob will be leading a prayer vigil at the Mayor of Oakland Park's home this Tuesday evening, November 8th. If anyone wishes to attend they are being asked to meet at the mission at 3460 Powerline Road by 5:30 pm. According to the Mission their intent is to protest a different Oakland Park city official every week until their food sharings are decriminalized.

The policies of the City of Oakland Park, and the efforts to resist it by All Saints, is a story all too familiar for those that have resisted Fort Lauderdale's homeless hate law this past year. We hope to see many of our favorite food sharing rebels Tuesday and in the weeks ahead in the effort to keep the food flowing to the needy in Oakland Park. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Banniversary

At the end of October, Food Not Bombs will be leading a "week of action" similiar in style to what took place last year when the sharing ban finally became law.

The Banniversary will celebrate 1 year of continued outdoor food sharings with the needy in resistance to Fort Lauderdale's homeless hate laws. Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs will be hosting some kind of activity all week long!

Friday, October 30th, 5 pm: Banniversary Kick-Off at Food Not Bombs
After years of trying, the City finally came close to shutting down outdoor food sharings like Food Not Bombs 1 year ago. Join FNB's weekly vegetarian potluck in Stranahan Park, because it's not going anywhere!

Saturday, October 31st, 3pm: Banniversary Halloween Fun Day 
Banniversary week is not all protests and potlucks...come by for some fun & games in Stranahan Park. Wear a costume!

Sunday, November 1st, 4 pm: Resist Homeless Hate Laws Rally
FNB remembers the 7 weeks of continuous protest and media commotion last year all too well! Let's revisit  the spirt of #resisthomelesshatelaws circa November 2014 with a protest along US 1. 

Monday, November 2nd, 12:30 pm: Banniversary Sharing
Join Chef Arnold & some of the other rebel food sharers of Broward County for a sharing outside Stranahan Park. We'll be marking the occasion of the sharing heard 'round the world, 1 year ago on this day.

Tuesday, November 3rd, 6 pm: Sharing Ban Comedy Roast
"Food Not Bombs invites you to a comedic roast of the infamous sharing ban of Fort Lauderdale during Banniversary week. While several FNB'ers are already scheduled, we invite everyone to sign up and make tributes of their own to the laws that turned Ft Lauderdale into an international laughingstock."

Wednesday, November 4th: Sistrunk Sharing
FNB and other community activists will be doing a sharing at Lincoln Park on Sistrunk Blvd. More information TBA.

Thursday, November 5th TBA

Friday, November 6th, 7 pm: Banniversary Street Prom
The finale for Banniversary week will be a musical street march through downtown Ft Lauderdale following the weekly sharing at Stranahan Park.

"We're not just resisting homeless hate laws - we're sharing our vision of a future liberated from oppression based in gender, race and class, and the contraints of government and society with each other and the people of Fort Lauderdale."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Will The US Gov't End Homeless Hate Laws?

Recently, the Federal Department of Justice announced that criminalizing homelessness is unconstitutional. While the news lacked any real teeth, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) may have significantly changed that situation.

Now in a bold and seriously under-reported move, HUD has announced that counties and cities across America will be required to describe how they are reducing criminalization of homelessness when they re-apply for annual funding from the Federal Government. Future funding levels for at least some grants may be partially determined by how the applicant answers this question.

Broward County receives millions every year in HUD grants. And yet, the City of Fort Lauderdale has perhaps more anti-homeless laws on record than any City
in America. They are also spending tens of thousands of dollars fighting lawsuits filed against them for the  outdoor food sharing ban. Theoretically this could effect many major cities just in this one state, such as Miami, Tampa, St Petersburg, Orlando, Pensacola, and many others that have recently endorsed or passed laws criminalizing homeless activities or targeted homeless aid operations with arrest and raids.

Could the threat of a HUD-led boycott of Fort Lauderdale finally convince Mayor Seiler and company to change course?

If so, it will hopefully happen soon. Intercession Food Pantry closed its doors this week, making it at least the third homeless service provider shut down this year by government hands. All Saint's Mission in Oakland is also listed for shutdown but still has 3 years to attempt to relocate.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Florida Cities Attack Those That Help The Homeless

On Wednesday, a Tampa non-profit shelter service, "Homeless Helping Homeless Inc," was raided by Tampa police officers. The search warrant was ostensibly related to a tow company that police claim is run by the nonprofit's owner, but HHH's computers and documents were seized and by Thursday the building was effectively condemned, giving the residents just a few days to take their belongings and go.

"This investigation has nothing to do with the homeless shelter. It's irrelevant," said TPD spokeswoman Andrea Davis.

HHH grabbed a lot of attention for successfully suing the City of Tampa for a panhandling ban that threatened their newspaper operation, which is passingly similar to what The Homeless Voice used to do here. Their federal lawsuit against the City resulted in the law being partially repealed in July.

HHH's friends in the proactive homeless support community in Tampa have set up a crowd-funding page to try to collect enough money to repair the code violations before the building is taken away and demolished.

Stock in the unpopularity of allowing homeless people to actually live indoors in major cities across South Florida seems to be high. Not long after the prior news from Tampa emerged, the Sun Sentinel posted an incredibly bizarre story where-in Sean Cononie makes some vague statements about re-opening the Homeless Voice somewhere in Broward County.

The Homeless Voice has frequently been a negative attention magnet for various government bureaucrats. What's really remarkable here is the amount of locals and public officials lining up to declare just how unwelcome Broward County feels towards homeless people.

Dania Mayor Salvino
Most remarkable are the comments from Dania Beach City officials:

Dania Beach Mayor Marco Salvino seemed caught off-guard.
"I don't know anyone who would want him back here," Salvino said.
He plans to ask the city attorney to research whether Dania Beach can pass an outright ban on homeless shelters.
"I don't know that that's the image we're trying to project for our city," Dania Beach Commissioner Chickie Brandimarte said. 
 Broward homeless census-takers generally do not collect data specifically on the homeless population in Dania. Although the County Jail and other centralized resources in nearby downtown Fort Lauderdale continue to concentrate the homeless there, it can't be denied that Dania has its own homeless population. Downtown Dania itself continues to idle in decay while similar areas such as Sistrunk, downtown Pompano, downtown Hollywood, etc., have poured 10 of millions of dollars into redeveloping their urban areas.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rick Scott Slashes $2m in Homeless Assistance

Ripples of outrage have been spreading all week since the approval of the latest Florida state budget. Mixed into the piles of public services gutted from next years budget were millions allocated to government sponsored local homelessness initiatives.

Here in Fort Lauderdale, $800,000 ii funding for the Rapid Re-Housing program was vetoed. Much like the infamous budget cuts that killed the Sunrail, Rick Scott's veto pen is actually stopping the flow of federal dollars, in this case from HUD, from helping the general public and the very needy statewide. 

Rapid Re-Housing has been the City of Fort Lauderdale's lynchpin plan for reducing homelessness in downtown; throughout the last several years of controversy around Fort Lauderdale's homeless policies, City officials have always pointed to Housing First & Rapid Re-Housing as proof of the good intent. At this time it is unclear if and how the City will be able to keep the program funded for the next year. 

As this blog is getting fairly tired of reporting, this budget cut is part of ongoing hot streak of homeless service cuts effecting downtown Ft Lauderdale, including but limited to, the sharing ban, the closure of the Homeless Voice, and the shutdown of homeless outreach services at "The Tree."

Here's a full list of homeless services cut by Rick Scott this week, some of which has already been stirring up controversy:

Citrus Health Network for the Safe Haven for Homeless Youth Program - $100,00
Miami-Dade Homeless Trust - $189,794
Eckerd and Brevard C.A.R.E.S (homelessness intervention and prevention services) $500,000
Jacksonville SOAR Outreach Program (chronically homeless persons) $97,000
Metropolitan Ministries-Pasco Transitional Housing $1,000,000
City of Ft. Lauderdale Rapid Rehousing Project $800,000
Clearwater Homeless Emergency Project  $400,000

Monday, June 1, 2015

Tree Closing is Yet Another City Hate Law

As of today, "The Tree," the informal meeting place for homeless people to get in touch with County homeless services, is off the limits. The City wants to open the land on NW 2nd in between Andrews & 1st ave up for bidding for destruction and development. However, it also conveniently fits into the City's overall effort to ban and displace homeless people and their homeless services from downtown Ft Lauderdale, particularly north of Broward Blvd in the area of the bus terminal.

The shutdown of the Tree is the latest in a countless string of closures of homeless services in the last few years, from the buy-out of the Homeless Voice to last fall's notorious attempts to shut down all outdoor food sharing organizations downtown. Despite the fact that one of the county's main outreach efforts as part of its Homeless Initiative operates at this location, many of these services will be cut without a replacement location being provided.

Homeless advocates and others who have experienced the services provided at the tree will be gathering on Monday, June 1st, to mark this somber occasion and discuss the urgent demand for more inclusive spaces for the needy in downtown instead of more displacement tactics and bad City policy.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May Day Recap

Friday's 6 month anniversary of resistance to Ft Lauderdale's sharing ban merged seemlessly with the call for "May Day for Freddie Gray" in solidarity with the Baltimore Uprising. About 100 activists joined FNB's weekly sharing in Stranahan Park and then crashed Las Olas' Wine & Food Fest before shutting down traffic on Broward Blvd from Victoria Park to Andrews Avenue. While there were no arrests, there were many confrontations between the FLPD, many of whom were on bicycles, and the protesters that they unsuccessfully tried to force off the streets for most of the march.

Large albums of this colorful and musical May Day march can be found here, here and here.

This protest marks yet another successful fusion between the homeless discrimination struggles of Food Not Bombs and other rebel food sharers and the new tide of anti-racist, anti-police brutality activism of the Broward Dream Defenders and many others besides. The Dream Defenders are following up Friday's protest with a visit this Tuesday to everyone's favorite stalwart of the unjust status quo, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. Dream Defenders are signed up for citizen's presentations about City's unjust and discriminatory policing towards communities of color and homeless people.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

May Day! 6 Months of Resistance

May 1st, 2015 marks 6 months since the enforcement of the sharing ban began in downtown Fort Lauderdale - 6 months since countless homeless aid groups were threatened with shutdown over the city's pursuit of its anti-homeless agenda.

One of these groups, Ft Lauderdale Food Not Bombs, is celebrating 6 months of continued survival and resistance on May 1st, which is International Worker's Day. More information is to come but speakers and music are invited to FNB's regular sharing on Friday, May 1st at 5 pm, followed by a march through downtown at 7 pm. We hope it will be a great opportunity for all the different people from different backgrounds to come together and celebrate the resistance to Homeless Hate Laws once more. We still have a long way to go, even considering the FLPD's slow-motion meltdown over its officers' recent conduct towards its poor and marginalized citizens. 

Homeless Guide V2

The first updated version of "The Unofficial Ft Lauderdale Guidebook for the Needy & Homeless" is out. We've created a page on this very blog to permanently host the most recent version of the guide. Share, print, and share again!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Year One

April marks 1 year since the City began hearing and passing their "Homeless Hate Laws," and 1 year of resisting them.

While the legal challenges to the City's sharing ban trudges on, not much has been done to stop the other homeless hate laws. This is despite the fact that cities such as Miami & Gainesville both rejected laws last month similar to Fort Lauderdale's camping ban, which passed in September without much of a ruckus. 

One participant in the homeless hate regime that has not had an easy 2015 is the FLPD (and a host of other Broward County police departments), who have been riddled with scandals, indictments, and resignations for months now.

Another major change for the homelessness struggle in the area is the closure of COSAC/ Homeless Voice. While Sean Cononie's exodus took dozens of homeless people to their new "pay-what-you-can" motel project in Central Florida, many chronically homeless people in the Hollywood area are basically shit out of luck.  Hollywood PD's homeless outreach program painted a rosy picture of the transition, claiming that ultimately only 9 people " would not or could not move out of Hollywood." No new facilities or services are being created in Broward County to replace The Homeless Voice building, and Hollywood plans to turn it into more overpriced stores and condos. 

In other news more food has come to downtown in the form of #payitfwdftl, a project for customers of participating businesses can pitch into donations to homeless people. Slice Pizzeria next to the downtown library has already given away hundreds of slices of pizza in the past 2 weeks. There's also a project to pass on prepaid cards at the Broward Blvd Laundromax.

So welcome to year 2!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Presenting a Homelessness Guide in a Misguided State

Saturday marked the official release of the first version of "The Unofficial Guidebook for the Needy & Homeless." You can download it here. This guide builds on the County's slim offerings of homeless services with sections on where to find food sharings and a more complete collection of shelter and addiction resources.

We hope this guide can go a long way to upending the misinformed, under-served state of the marginalized people of Ft Lauderdale. Unfortunately the misguided sentiment of homeless policymakers in Ft Lauderdale and the entire state seem to grind on. Lee Feldman's plan to turn a disused BSO stockade into a shelter for downtown's chronically homeless fell through this week.

At the same time, the City of Miami is looking to attack homeless rights in the wake of the weakening of the Pottinger Agreement. On Thursday morning the City plans to pass a ban that would make it a criminal offence to possess blankets, mats, or pillows on the streets of Miami. The National Lawyers Guild and other activists are attending to oppose Miami's new attempt at a "Homeless Hate Law."

The Huffington Post also offered a blistering feature this week on Dr Robert Marbut, a millionaire homelessness consultant who has helped institute a policy of forcing homeless people off the streets in counties throughout the state. It's really a must-read for those that want to understand the currents of policy-making for homeless services in Florida.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Anti-Police Brutality Protests Continue Downtown

Following online & media outrage over the actions of FLPD Officer Victor Ramirez, anti-police brutality protests occurred Saturday at the Ft Lauderdale Police Department and Tuesday at Ft Lauderdale City Commission. Police Chief Adderly has continued to  make statements claiming that the incident will be fully investigated.

While the press has been closely following this story, the systemic way in which the FLPD handles the chronically homeless in downtown is something the City is still in denial about. Homeless advocates and other speakers were heavily discouraged from mentioning the incident when discussing the sharing ban and other issues throughout the City Commission meeting. The zoning amendment to the "sharing ban" ordinance passed.

"The Unofficial Ft Lauderdale Guidebook for the Needy & Homeless"

Saturday homeless advocates gather at the Unitarian Universalist Church for a screening of the documentary "Uncharted," which focuses on chronic homelessness in Indianapolis. As a matter of fact, Indianapolis City Council just this week passed a Homeless Bill of Rights.

Also available at the movie screening will be the first edition of "The Unofficial Ft Lauderdale Guidebook for the Needy & Homeless." This new resource book for homeless services particularly focuses on the needs of people in downtown Fort Lauderdale in a way that the City has avoided for years. This project is a result of yet another collaboration between homeless advocates in Ft Lauderdale to not just resist homeless hate laws but to provide the communication and services needed  to help those that are constantly slipping through the cracks in South Florida. They are free to everyone and we will be looking for help distributing it to various homeless service providers and downtown in the coming weeks.

Monday, February 23, 2015

2 Videos of Police Brutality Surface in 1 Day

The local news tonight broadcast 2 citizen videos of police assaulting and arresting people, just blocks away from one another in downtown Ft Lauderdale.

The first incident involved FLPD Officer Victor Ramirez. Ramirez assaults and arrests homeless man Bruce Laclair, according to the victim, for trying to use the bathroom at Broward Central Terminal on Sunday. BCT's public bathroom is one of the few restrooms available to homeless people in downtown Fort Lauderdale, and unfortunately the profiling and trespassing of homeless people is all too common in these areas.

The 2nd, and perhaps even more disturbing, video, is Dasyl Rios being dragged through Broward County Courthouse, just a few blocks South of BCT, on Monday. Rios was being sent back to jail for violating probation and when she did not cooperate with BSO deputies, she was dragged by a pair of ankle cuffs into a holding area.

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Although this kind of casual brutality is often described by poor and needy people who live and congregate in downtown, and are processed through the jail and court system nearby, it is somewhat rare for 2 shocking instances to be on display in one day. And yet, this is Fort Lauderdale.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sharing Ban Limbo

The City's 45 day stay of enforcement has expired, and according to latest communications with the City, there is still no intent to enforce. The City's sharing ban seems to be in a self-imposed limbo while mediation between the City & Love Thy Neighbor takes place. The sharing ban has not been enforced for about 10 weeks now.

Sharing Ban Back At Commission
Minor zoning changes to the sharing ban meant that the ordinance was brought before another hearing at City Hall on Tuesday. Several people still came to speak in opposition to the law, and activists staged an impromptu sharing outside as the meeting began. 

The City cut public comment times short and even moved agenda items around to ensure the sharing ban was heard dead last. Despite these attempts to stifle participation, the discussion of the sharing ban occurred a solid 4 or 5 hours earlier than the time of night that the original law was discussed during. After public comment, Commissioner Trantalis spent another 15 minutes or so criticizing the other commissioners' support of the law. The current revisions will be discussed again on March 3rd, and further revisions to the law are expected later still.

The Mayor and other Commissioners made a continued point of foisting blame for the lack of sharing sites in the City on Broward County government. Members of the DDA & Chamber of Commerce made a similar point while avoiding any responsibility for creating the sharing ban recently when they came to visit Food Not Bombs' weekly downtown business protest. 

Occurring every Wednesday night in front of YOLO on Las Olas, February 11th's protest was bit different in that Tim Petrillo, the owner of YOLO, came out to greet the protest. The following week, a large police presence watched the demonstration from outside the Las Olas Starbucks. 

As a continued effort to show those responsible for the sharing ban the error of their ways. we'll close by repeating Reverend Gail Tapscott's open invite given to Ft Lauderdale City Commission officials on Tuesday. We welcome everyone to come March 7th to the Unitarian Universality Church's screening of "Uncharted" to learn a little bit about the truth behind homelessness.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Movie Night for Housing Rights, March 7th

Uncharted: The Truth Behind Homelessness is a recently filmed documentary about a struggle between homeless people, homeless advocates, and government homeless services in Indianapolis. On March 7th at 5 pm, The Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale will be hosting a free filming of the screening. After the screening, the filmmaker is going to join via video conference and everyone can have a discussion along with some refreshments. 

As criminal trials for sharing food and dates for lawsuits against the City proceed for many of the "food sharing outlaws," it's worth asking a few questions about "the truth behind homelessness." One of the questions most prevalent here and in the film's subject city of Indianapolis is, why is conflict between homeless people and government services for  the homeless so commonplace? And how are these conflicts ever actually resolved in a way that benefits those that are suffering?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sharing Ban Revisited, Tuesday Feb 17th

The City's agenda for next Tuesday's Commission meeting brings the sharing ban back to public hearing. This will be the first "homeless hate law" the City has discussed at their meetings since they originally passed the sharing ban back in October.

Despite a deluge of public comment, the City is not re-visiting the sharing ban in order  to make major changes to it. In fact it seems that the only amendment they are considering is to add a  few extra blocks to the "sharing zones" in the area of Flagler Village where it will be considered permissible to share food (and only for those in total compliance with the many "health and safety" regulations imposed on outdoor food sharings.)

3 months after enforcement of the sharing ban made Fort Lauderdale an international laughingstock, the City has made no real suggestions or compromises to allow food aid  to legally continue downtown.

5 lawsuits continue to challenge the "Unified Land Regulations" on "Outdoor Food Distribution Centers." Ft Lauderdale City Commissions  themselves have gotten to  be pretty rowdy lately; the last meeting was the 2nd time within 3 months where someone protesting City policy was arrested for disrupting the City Commission.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Anti-Homeless Incumbents Re-Elected... Fight For Downtown Continues

Mayor Seiler and temporary appointment Phil McKinzie easily won their election challenges Tuesday, with only 7% of Fort Lauderdale's eligible voters participating. It would appear that the City's "Midnight Monarchy" will continue regardless of its unpopular attacks on equality and human rights.

The 5 lawsuits against the city by homeless advocates will continue to try to stop the sharing ban in the court system...several other important decisions for the fate of downtown will also be decided over the coming weeks.

The City is requesting permission from the County for thousands of new residential units to be built in downtown in coordination with the development of the "All Aboard Florida" commuter rail station. The County is actually asking for greater requirements for affordable housing in these plans as only 15% of the housing proposed are expected for, and we quote, "normal folks." Absolutely none of this housing, of course, is planned for "homeless folks," particularly those that have been living in these same areas of downtown for years. Further discussion of these developments are expected next week at the Broward County Commission meeting.

Food Not Bombs will also continue to its quest to help the homeless crisis through direct democracy and direct action, including at their weekly Wednesday protests, now in their 2nd continuous month. It takes place every Wednesday at 7 pm in front of YOLO. Join the ongoing resistance to homeless hate laws!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

3 Months Later: Rallies & Awards

January 31st marked exactly 3 months since the beginning of the sharing ban. While the status quo of downtown remains mostly unaltered, a number of people affected by the law spent the anniversary in one spotlight or another.

In West Broward, Chef Arnold, Pastor Dwayne Black, Pastor Frank Pontillo (accepting on behalf of Rev. Mark Sims), and Nikki & Damien from Food Not Bombs received "civil liberty arrest medals from the Broward ACLU.

Homeless advocates also put together a rally downtown to shine a light on the underdog candidates running for Fort Lauderdale City Commission next month. Didier Ortiz, running for District 3, and Chris Brennan, running for Mayor, both spoke. 

Mayor Jack Seiler, Earl Rynerson, Donna Guthrie, Phil McKinzie, Dean Trantalis, and David Tabb all chose not to come. It seemed like at least one or two candidates seemed uncomfortable with attending a rally in collaboration with the "homeless hate law resisters." Oh well. 

Of interest in the next week or two is the expiration for the sharing ban injunction set shortly before Christmas. Although legal opinions seem somewhat varied, without further court rulings, it is possible the sharing ban could be enforced again starting next week, although highly unlikely due to the upcoming elections.Stay tuned. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Federal Civil Liberties Lawsuit Against City Is Filed by Food Not Bombs

Today's press release from Southern Legal Counsel:

Today, Southern Legal Counsel, the Legal Advocacy Center of Central Florida and the Law Offices of Mara Shlackman filed suit against the City of Fort Lauderdale to challenge the City’s recently passed ordinance and its park rules which unlawfully restrict the sharing of food with homeless and hungry persons in public spaces as a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, asks that the law be struck down, and that the Plaintiffs be awarded damages for the violations of their constitutional rights. Clients in the case are the organization Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs, along with four of its members – Nathan Pim, Jillian Pim, Haylee Becker, and William Toole. Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs and its members conduct weekly demonstrations which include sharing food in centrally located downtown Stranahan Park to communicate the message that access to food is a human right and that our society can end hunger and poverty if our collective resources are redirected from the military and war. Food Not Bombs members have been subject to arrest and citation by the City for their lawful protected First Amendment activities. Plaintiffs challenge the City’s ordinance, and its park rules, as violations of their constitutional rights to freedom of expression, speech and association.

Lead counsel, Kirsten Clanton, with Southern Legal Counsel, said “I have challenged laws across the state of Florida that seek to criminalize homelessness and the work of homeless advocates, and this one is among the most cruel and senseless. Unfortunately, Fort Lauderdale has joined a growing number of cities in Florida and across the nation in criminalizing the innocent conduct of sharing food with another human being. It is outrageous that the City would waste police and court resources to criminalize the innocent conduct of sharing food with another human being simply because of its misguided belief that the availability of food perpetuates homelessness.”

Ordinances criminalizing the sharing of food have increased in recent years as documented in No Safe Place, a recent report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (the Law Center). The Fort Lauderdale law is similar to one struck down by a federal court in Dallas, Texas last year, following a challenge by the Law Center.

Attorney Mara Shlackman added, “Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs is not a charity. Its meals are shared by all who attend, regardless of social status, as symbolic First Amendment political expression that food is
a right, not a privilege, and that resources should be diverted from the military to meeting the needs of everyone. I look forward to a court decision that allows our clients to continue their important work.”
Co-counsel Andrea Costello commented, “The right to engage in political protest is at the heart of our democracy. The City of Fort Lauderdale is enforcing laws which attempt to make Food Not Bombs’ lawful political organizing a criminal act – taking political action to share food with those who are hungry while speaking out for human rights is not a crime.”

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player Southern Legal Counsel (SLC) is a nonprofit public interest law firm committed to the ideal of equal justice for all and the attainment of basic civil and human rights. It works to make this ideal a reality by providing legal representation to individuals and groups who would otherwise not have access to the justice system and whose cases may bring about systemic reform. SLC’s Homeless Advocacy Project works statewide in Florida to protect and defend the civil and human rights of homeless persons and their advocates.

The Legal Advocacy Center of Central Florida (LACCF) is a non-profit public interest legal organization committed to impact litigation and advocacy for individuals and groups to advance economic, social and racial justice. LACCF pursues strategies that promote systemic change to further civil rights.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Vote Out Mayor Seiler: Election Rally January 31st

Fort Lauderdale's much-neglected electoral process collides with its much-maligned public officials February 10th!

All 3 races, including the Mayor's, include candidates on opposite sides of the "homeless hate laws" issues. While the Mayor easily sailed to re-election in 2012, his international notoriety for implementing the sharing ban has made things a little more interesting this time around.

Join the homeless support community of downtown Ft Lauderdale for an election rally on January 31st at Bubier Park at 2 pm. So far Chris Brennan, running for Mayor, and Didier Ortiz, running for district 3, have confirmed they will be speaking. There will be some musical entertainment by Jeff D.

It is also worthwhile to note that the voluntary, 45-day sharing ban injunction will lapse about a week after this rally.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Anti-Homeless Laws Face Election Test

Filing for the Fort Lauderdale City Commission elections was this week. While off-season local elections tend to be an even worse attempt at participatory democracy than Florida state elections, it's pretty obvious to most that there will be something a little different this time. Regardless of the reasons why the City's statist voting bloc will ultimately re-elect the vast majority of the City Commission in February, this election will also be a referendum on the biggest political quagmire the City has seen in years: Fort Lauderdale's Homeless Hate Laws.

Meet the Candidates

Incumbency in American political elections is a joke to be sure. For just a cursory example, every incumbent running for re-election for Florida state congress in 2004 won.  If Jack Seiler wins re-election for the 2nd time this year he will have reached the half-way point of his potential term limit of 18 years. This will effectively mean that Fort Lauderdale has only had 2 Mayors in 28 years. Commissioners Bruce Roberts and Romney Rogers are, in fact, sailing to re-election unopposed for their third and final terms.

However, the other 3 races could represent a crucial  change  in the City's disastrous approach to homeless policy.


Outspoken "Rain Tree" advocate Chris Brennan and Republican Earl Rynerson are challenging Mayor Magic Jack for the big seat.

While Mr. Brennan does not have a campaign or website active as of yet, his involvement in the campaign to save the Fort Lauderdale Rain Tree would seem to place him in opposition to many of downtown's entrenched business interests.

Rynerson, despite carrying around the attribute of "Republican," (*City elections are non-partisan) opines regularly on his blog as a vocal critic of the Mayor, including against many of Seiler's most conversative stances. Therefore Rynerson is courting Seiler's foes in the fight for marriage equality (Rynerson is openly gay), homeless hate laws, police brutality, and yes, even the Rain Tree. So despite having lost this race to Seiler twice already, Rynerson has the unusual opportunity to challenge the Mayor when he has never been more unpopular, in part for his stances on these divisive issues.
How popular can this guy still be..?

District II

Dean Trantalis, the only City Commissioner to show even the slightest bit of hesitation when it came to the City's march to criminalize homelessness, is being challenged by David Tabb, who is on the board of directors for Riverwalk. While Tabb also does not have a campaign set up just yet, Riverwalk representatives regularly spoke in support of the Homeless Hate Laws when they were being discussed throughout 2014. It is relatively safe to assume that Mr. Tabb would bring the Commission even further into the pockets of Fort Lauderdale's classist plutocracy.

District III

The open seat for District 3 is the biggest opportunity for change in the City government in 2015, but it remains to be seen how much things will really "change."

Robert McKinzie, appointed by the City to close out Bobby Dubose's term, has already voted lock-step with the City on its remaining anti-homeless agendas, including voting to appeal the injunction against the sharing ban created in December by court order. McKinzie has already been the subject of criticism for carpet-bagging the Commission seat from the suburban comfort of nearby Plantation.

Donna Guthrie is also running for the seat and also spoke repeatedly at the City Commission in favor of anti-homeless laws on behalf of the Melrose Park Civic Association.

Ortiz at a homeless rights forum in October 2014
The third challenger is Didier Ortiz. Much like Brennan, Ortiz is an "activist" candidate that does not align with a major political party, represent a home-owners association, or own a business in Fort Lauderdale. He announced his campaign several months ago and has made his opposition to the City's Homeless Hate Laws a big part of his message. Ortiz still faces steep opposition as both other candidates represent business interests in a district that has benefited from tens of millions of dollars in redevelopment.


In the seriously unlikely chance that Magic Jack loses, Trantalis keeps his seat, and Ortiz wins D3, it would be a spectacular electoral coup; there would likely be a commission majority AGAINST homeless discrimination. However, even a seriously close race, especially a March run-off election for the Mayor's office or District 3's  seat, would increase the likelihood of the candidate's positions on these unpopular policies having an effect on their success. It therefore increases the chance that even if the incumbents reign supreme in February, that they will see anti-homeless policies as a long-term threat to their political careers.

The election for Mayor and District 3 is February 10th. The District 2 election is March 10th.

*If any candidates for these races would like to further clarify their positions on this issue, let us know through the contact form. We are not going to track you down and interview you.*