When the fences went up around the grassy area at United Nations Plaza in San Francisco last November, Food Not Bombs (FNB) volunteers had apretty good idea of what they were for. When a volunteer from Food Not Bombs called the Department of Public Works (DPW), those suspicions were confirmed. The fences, he was told, were put up to keep homeless people off of the grass. FNB confronts these attacks on public access to public space with direct-action – by serving free vegetarian food and distributing literature in and around these spaces, and by speaking out and holding demonstrations. This is just what they did on July 14th when a demonstration took the fences down.
The fences were barricades of the type used by the police for crowd control, held together with plastic handcuffs and hose clamps. ” What we really need from the community,” said Ronnie Eagles, from the Coalition On Homelessness, “… is some solutions. Solutions, not more fucking persecution ! “At the end of the day, some thirty folks had been arrested and charged with refusing to leave the scene of a riot and resisting arrest.
The post script to this event is that one week later, on July 22nd, the fences around the grassy areas at UN Plaza were taken down. “The green areas are for the people to look at, not necessarily to lay on,” said Jorge Alfaro of the DPW. “But we’re going to see how people use the space.
” When asked if there was any connections between the FNB demonstration and the fences coming down, Alfaro repsonded, “Of course there was a connection. The demonstrators brought it to everyone’s attention.” Remember … direct-action gets the goods!