- Food Not Bombs (FNB) is "one of the fastest growing
revolutionary movements and is gaining momentum throughout the world."
Access its story on:
- Through hundreds of autonomous chapters globally, it
shares free vegetarian food to relieve hunger besides protesting against
war, poverty, and social injustice. FNB isn't a charity. Through grassroots
activism, it advocates peace and liberation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine
throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.
In addition, for 30 years, it's worked to end hunger and backs efforts
against globalization, free movement restrictions, exploitation, and environmental
- Co-founded in 1980 by Keith McHenry and other anti-nuclear
activists in Cambridge MA, its autonomous, all volunteer groups advocate
nonviolent social change. Among other activities, they recover edible,
safe to eat food that would otherwise be discarded, using it to make "fresh
hot vegan and vegetarian meals that are served in outside public spaces
to anyone without restriction." They also serve it at protests, other
events and in disaster areas, but not free from disruptive government harassment.
- For example, San Francisco members have been arrested
over 1,000 times for their activism against homelessness and other social
injustices, intolerable in a major city in the world's richest country.
- In the 1990s, Amnesty International took note. Its October
28, 1994 letter to San Francisco authorities requested information about
arrested activists, voicing concern over the harassment and arrests of
Keith McHenry, Robert Kahn, and 20 others for distributing free food and
disseminating information on housing, homelessness, peace, social justice,
military spending, and related issues.
- AI cited a similar six-year pattern, including against
McHenry. Arrested over 90 times on baseless charges, most often they were
dropped, showing a clear intent to harass and disrupt legitimate social
justice activities. He and many others been repeatedly targeted. His phone
was tapped, and several times he was beaten and reportedly pushed down
a City Hall flight of stairs while handcuffed behind his back in March
1991 - a clear case of police brutality.
- Others arrested were also mistreated for engaging in
lawful nonviolent activities, ones constitutionally protected. Yet, they've
been charged with criminal acts for their legitimate activities and beliefs.
AI stresses that "The right to peaceful expression, assembly and dissemination
of information is recognized under the US Constitution. These are also
fundamental freedoms enshrined in international human rights standards."
- If lawless police actions are proved, "the City
of San Francisco would be in breach of international law and Amnesty International
would adopt those imprisoned as "Prisoners of Conscience" and
would work for their unconditional release." McHenry and other FNB
volunteers, in fact, hold that distinction, a significant honor reserved
for the most worthy and unjustly oppressed.
- Many AI chapters host FNB presentations at various schools.
In addition, other organizations offer praise and support, including ACLU
Legal Director Ann Beeson, saying:
- "When the FBI and local law enforcement target groups
like Food Not Bombs under the guise of fighting terrorism, many Americans
who oppose government policies will be discouraged from speaking out and
exercising their rights."
- On June 4, 2010, New York Times writer Jake Halpern wrote
a lengthy article titled, "The Freegan Establishment," saying:
- On Buffalo's West Side, a young man named Kit says "our
society wastes far too much." He's a "freegan," an ideology
"drawing on elements of communism, radical environmentalism, a zealous
do-it-yourself work ethic and an old-fashioned frugality of the sock-darning
- They're not revolutionaries. They instead challenge traditional
lifestyles with their own, dedicated to "salvaging what others waste
and - when possible - living without the use of currency." Even the
house he moved into was abandoned, one of many in Buffalo, so with no "for
sale" sign, he and others moved in as squatters.
- McHenry is another freegan, a nonconformist descendant
of one of the Constitution's signers and one of the Food for Bombs founders,
the organization becoming "the most active force for spreading the
ethos of freeganism" by distributing free food to the hungry and others
- In his book, "Waste: Uncovering the Global Food
Scandal," Tristram Stuart said American households, retailers and
vendors waste about 40 million tons of edible quality safe to eat food
annually. FNB distributes it, activities deserving honor, not harassment,
accusations of terrorism, arrest, and for some, imprisonment.
- Nonetheless, it members are targeted like criminals.
For years, they've been investigated by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force,
the Pentagon, other US intelligence agencies, and local authorities. As
a result, their volunteers have been arrested and charged with terrorism
for distributing free food and advocating peace and social justice, hardly
subversive activities. Not, in today's America, however, nor as its been
for decades, preaching democratic freedoms, while practicing repression
to protect privilege over populism and equal justice.
- Examples of FNB Activities
- Besides distributing free vegetarian food in 1,000 cities,
FNB also provides it for disaster survivors. For three days after the 1989
San Francisco earthquake, it was the only local organization doing it.
Also, the only one providing hot meals to 9/11 first responders, and there's
more. In 1999, it shared meals with Seattle globalization justice protesters,
and through many chapters organizes Really Really Free Markets, planting
Food Not Lawns community gardens, Homes Not Jails, and much more.
- Its volunteers also provided meals to Republican and
Democrat National Convention protesters, families of striking workers,
and (2004) Asian tsunami and (2005) Hurricane Katrina survivors.
- "Our volunteers organized a national collection
program and delivered bus and truckloads of food and supplies to the Gulf
region. We were one of the only organizations sharing daily meals in New
Orleans after Katrina." It also fed protesters at Camp Casey outside
George Bush's Texas ranch. Now it's helping economic crisis victims organize
community gardens, as well as housing for the homeless, besides establishing
new chapters in other areas, and organizing "actions encouraging alternatives
to the failure of capitalism."
- Moreover, FNB volunteers work cooperatively with groups
like Earth First!, The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, Anarchist Black
Cross, the IWW, Homes Not Jails, Anti-Racist Action, In Defense of Animals,
the Free Radio Movement, and other organizations "on the cutting edge
of positive social change and resistance to the new global austerity program."
- Economist Michael Hudson calls it "economic suicide,"
threatening to turn industrialized societies into dystopian backwaters,
its citizens reduced to serfdom in "an era of totalitarian neoliberal
rule." It's engulfing Europe and America under Obama's anti-populist
agenda, targeting populism, labor and civil rights for destruction.
- Three Decades of Dedication and Achievement
- A 30th year commemoration is planned, including local
initiatives and a collective called "A Food Not Bombs Menu" to
help others find and establish local chapters globally. Various materials
are available to help, including books, t-shirts, and other ways to promote
FNB principles. Through nonviolent direct action, it hopes to create "a
world free from domination, coercion and violence," in which "Food
is a right, not a privilege," but dark US forces threaten them.
- FBI and Local Police Gestapo Tactics Against Nonviolent
- For many decades, federal and local authorities targeted
groups like FNB. For example, on May 18, 2005, the ACLU charged the FBI
and local police with investigating and intimidating "law-abiding
human rights and advocacy groups, according to documents obtained through
a series of Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests."
- Groups targeted, among many others, include Greenpeace,
United for Peace and Justice, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,
the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and FNB.
- "The FBI is taking tax dollars and resources established
to fight terrorism and instead spying on (and harassing) innocent Americans
who have done nothing more than speak out or practice their faith. By recruiting
the local police (to help), they are also sowing dissent and suspicion
in communities around the country" illegally.
- Like others, FNB volunteers have been bogusly called
terrorists. Some have been arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned. Internal
government documents suggest high-level concern that they're turning Americans
away from militarism, instead advocating social justice, including quality
education, universal health care, and good living wage/essential benefits
jobs - the direct opposite of current US policy under either dominant party,
each like the other, only pretending to be different.
- As a result, FBI informants infiltrate local groups,
in some cases getting volunteers unwittingly to travel with them on government-paid
missions "to burn down research laboratories, lumber mills, model
homes or auto dealerships," then charge them with domestic terrorism,
the new Patriot Act established provision.
- At times, in fact, "Federal prosecutors were able
to get convictions because (FNB) activists were intimidated from expressing
their" opposition to violence when infiltrators tried to incite them
to commit it.
- Yet as early as November 1988, federal authorities accused
FNB of being "one of America's most hardcore terrorist groups."
A San Francisco-based National Guard member said he'd just taken three
days of classes on domestic terrorism, using FNB as a case study. In other
ways, authorities tried to "paint (FNB) as a violent terrorist group."
- Even Interpol got involved, organizing smear campaigns
and "try(ing) to bankrupt (FNB) by charging hundreds of dollars in
calls" to one or more of its European offices. In addition, the FBI's
Operation Backfire against environmental and animal rights activists infiltrated
FNB chapters, framing several volunteers for violent crimes, ones infiltrators
"carried out on behalf of the government" to entrap nonviolent
- Numerous innocent victims were targeted. Fear and distrust
spread through local communities, FNB members active in animal rights activities
harassed, arrested and convicted under the Animal Industry Terrorism Act.
Innocent people were imprisoned by being implicated in FBI-paid provocateur
schemes to entrap them.
- As a result, FNB urges volunteers to stay focused, wary
that infiltrators spread fear and disrupt constitutionally protected activities.
Especially post-9/11, advocating peace and social justice are now crimes,
engaged activists potentially facing charges of domestic terrorism and
long imprisonment for supporting right over wrong. The reality of today's
America is much different than its pretence, making it unsafe for anti-war,
social justice advocates like FNB volunteers.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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