The Fort Lauderdale chapter of the food-sharing network Food Not Bombs gathered on Friday afternoon, as it has done most weeks for years, to serve free vegetarian food with a side of anarchist literature, guitar-strumming, and antiestablishment conversation. We covered them in a feature story a while back and returned on Friday to check in with the current group before some of its most active members disband to head across the country.
There was much discussion of recently passed Fort Lauderdale ordinances to ban panhandling and of a $26,000 campaign to put up signs discouraging people from feeding the homeless that even show up on parking meters in a city garage:
While there are still a lot of mouths to feed in Fort Lauderdale, Food Not Bombs coordinators Haylee Becker and Phil Johnson were leaving this week to drive through Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico, putting on an activist puppet show along the way and traveling in a school bus modified to run on vegetable oil (at last check, they were hoping to modify the engine over the weekend).
Once in New Mexico, they'll decamp to property owned by Food Not Bombs founder Keith McHenry, now in his 50s, and consider setting up a farm and school there, while becoming more active in Food Not Bombs on a national level. Our feature story painted people like Becker and Johnson as possible heirs apparent to McHenry's brand of lifelong activism, so if they're heading up Food Not Bombs in a couple of decades, don't forget we were the first ones to see it coming.
The spread was typical, consisting of vegetarian pasta with tomato sauce, beans and rice, and green beans. Activists, hungry people, Occupiers, and well-wishers milled about the gazebo in Stranahan Park, where the city recently planted a number of decorative plants. When we arrived, several police cars were keeping an unusually heavy watch on the activity, but they disbanded after a while, perhaps because a bomb threat on Broward Boulevard required their attention around 6 p.m.
Afterword, the group peacefully gathered around a couple of representatives of the National Lawyers' Guild, who responded to recent arrests of people peacefully protesting with a lively recap of constitutional rights. Suck it, haters!
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