By Keith McHenry, October 16, 2011
We saw the AP article “Feeding the masses, fueling a movement” by Helen O’Neill and felt it was time to share a little secret about the occupations. One point missed in her article was the role of Food Not Bombs in helping organize the ” feeding of the masses” and its role in “fueling the movement.” Food Not Bombs volunteers have been busy collecting, buying and cooking for occupations all over the United States and the world. We started organizing a monthly occupation in May when we believed the city of Orlando, Florida might start arresting our volunteers for sharing food in violation of their large group feeding law. Many other Florida cities were suggesting they would introduce their own large group feeding laws and we hope to seek an end to the criminalization of poverty and support the rights of the poor by organizing occupations. Organizers in Orlando were arrested June 1, 2011 minutes before the first occupation started. Police also broke up the occupation attempt in Ft Lauderdale. Solidarity protest were held in many other cities including Milan, Italy, Detroit, Michigan, Melbourne, Australia and Ponti, Indonesia
Food Not Bombs has a long history of supporting and promoting the occupation of public space in protest to the economic and political system of exploitation. We provided food at the occupations in San Francisco and New York City in 1989 , the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas, and the 600 day farmer’s action at the Bosnia and Herzegovina Square in Sarajevo.
The process of the general assemblies and the use of consensus has in part its origins in the anti- nuclear and Woman’s movement and was adopted by Food Not Bombs at its founding in 1980. Food Not Bombs has introduced consensus to tens of thousands of young activists over the past 30 years and many of those participating in the occupations have been practicing the use of this decision making process at their regular Food Not Bombs meetings for most of their activist lives. We are sure if you talk to many of the young people involved in the occupations they will be happy to say they first learned this process from their participation in Food Not Bombs. Feel free to ask them.
As for the kitchens Food Not Bombs was helping organize the food for the Washington DC Occupation since May and started to post an announcement for the occupation on the index page of our website the week before we were first arrested for sharing meals in Orlando. We posted the Adbuster’s call for Occupy Wall Street on our website the day they emailed out their suggestion. We emailed news of these occupations to our several thousand supported. We also emailed our media list. You may have received this email from us your self back in mid-July.