Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Amy Goodman: ‘Food Terrorism’ Next Door to the Magic Kingdom

‘Food Terrorism’ Next Door to the Magic Kingdom
by Amy Goodman

Think of “food terrorism” and what do you see? Diabolical plots to taint items on grocery-store shelves? If you are Buddy Dyer, the mayor of Orlando, Fla., you might be thinking of a group feeding the homeless and hungry in one of your city parks. That is what Dyer is widely quoted as calling the activists with the Orlando chapter of Food Not Bombs—“food terrorists.” In the past few weeks, no less than 21 people have been arrested in Orlando, the home of Disney World, for handing out free food in a park.

Food Not Bombs is an international, grass-roots organization that fights hunger. As the name implies, it is against war. Its website home page reads: “Food Not Bombs shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities around the world to protest war, poverty and the destruction of the environment. With over a billion people going hungry each day how can we spend another dollar on war?” The Orlando chapter sets up a meal distribution table every Monday morning and Wednesday evening in the city’s Lake Eola Park.

Lately, the Orlando police have been arresting those who serve food there, like Benjamin Markeson. He was perplexed, telling me: “We think that it’s terrorism to arrest people for trying to share food with poor and hungry people in the community to meet a community need. And all we do is we come to the park and we share food with poor and hungry people. I don’t know how that qualifies as terrorism.”

Attorney Shayan Elahi doesn’t know, either. He is representing Orlando Food Not Bombs in court. He has filed for an injunction against the city in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, which is presided over by Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr., who is in the news as the no-nonsense judge in the Casey Anthony murder trial, happening now in Orlando. While the judge’s courtroom receives blanket coverage on cable networks, Elahi hopes Perry will have time to personally rule on his filing.

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