Broward News

All-Night Food Not Bombs Protest Ends Shortly After Dark

Food Not Bombs, the activists organization that feeds vegan food to homeless people to protest war, had a grand plan for a protest Wednesday. They'd protest all night to stand up against what they called the increased proliferation of Florida anti-homelessness ordinances. 

By the 5:30 p.m. start time, the plan didn't seem so sure. Four homeless people waited for the protest -- and related feeding -- to begin.

The Fort Lauderdale group finally arrived around six and unloaded clothes, signs, and food -- but no utensils. People just stared at the food for several hours while waiting for someone, it's not really clear who, to bring utensils.

The disorganization seemed somehow appropriate for a group that has been mired with problems since it started feeding homeless people in downtown Fort Lauderdale's Stranahan

Park. Food Not Bombs members claimed police harassment, but their game of capture the flag was what got members arrested for trespassing.

The group said the protest Wednesday was the first of what they said would be monthly events coordinated with other Florida chapters. Three people were arrested at an Food Not Bombs event in Orlando yesterday, including organization co-founder Keith McHenry, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The first police officer arrived about 45 minutes after the Fort Lauderdale protest was supposed to begin. A Food Not Bombs member sitting on the sidewalk sarcastically offered him some soup before four more officers arrived.

Haylee Becker was the de-facto leader of the event, despite the group's insistence that they don't have a power structure. Becker, a soft-spoken 19-year-old, said that no one could eat the food until sanitary utensils arrived, and no one ate. And they waited more than two and a half hours, fighting with each other occasionally.

Food Not Bombs member David Hitchcock was the only one to start an argument with an otherwise friendly police sergeant within seconds of the officer's arrival. It started with the sergeant looking for someone who was in charge and ended with yelling, the officer walking away, and Hitchcock heckling him by yelling, "That's a nice-looking badge."

By 9 p.m., the "all night" protest disbanded without incident.

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Rich Abdill