Orlando: Food Not Bombs loses Federal appeal

From the Christian Science Monitor:

A group of political activists in Orlando have lost their battle to establish that feeding the homeless is an act of political expression fully protected by the First Amendment.

In a decision announced Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled against the group, Orlando Food Not Bombs, and gave a green light to city officials to enforce an ordinance restricting weekly feeding of the homeless in downtown parks.

“The city is in a far better position than this court to determine how best to manage the burden that large group feedings place on neighborhoods in the city,” Circuit Judge William Pryor wrote for the unanimous decision of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

In a 15-page decision, the court said it was assuming, without deciding, that feeding the homeless in a public park was a form of expressive conduct entitled to some level of protection under the First Amendment.

But the court went on to decide that the city’s ordinance was a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction on the free speech rights of Orlando Food Not Bombs.

“The ordinance as applied to the feedings of homeless persons by Orlando Food Not Bombs does not violate the free speech clause of the First Amendment,” Pryor wrote.

The action reverses a federal judge’s injunction that had permanently blocked the city from enforcing an ordinance restricting the use of downtown parks for large-scale feedings.

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Denver O22 Reportback: Taking back the streets to remember Marvin Booker

Cop carIn communities across North America October 22nd has become a day to commemorate victims of police repression and violence. For many communities, October 22, 2010 took on a more urgent meaning in the wake of severe police repression and violence that has plagued cities large and small. In Denver, this year’s October 22nd event saw a rise in hostility towards the cops and an increased militancy from years’ past.

Throughout 2010, police in the metro area have repeatedly made headlines with horrific acts of violence directed at community members. Ranging from allegations of sexual assault, rapes of children, murders, and beatings, news stories have painted a picture of a department that is clearly running amok and waging war on the residents of Colorado. Offending officers are rarely held accountable and department leadership deftly sweeps incidents under the rug to stave off an increasingly angry public.

One of the most violent and high profile incidents occurred in July. Denver Sheriff’s Deputies serving as guards at the new Denver Justice Center murdered 56 year old Marvin Booker, a homeless preacher being held as a prisoner at the jail. Marvin had asked for access to his shoes before he would comply with orders to return to his cell. In response, five deputies tackled him, placed him in repeated choke and pain compliance holds, tasered him, and beat him. Marvin died shortly after the attack. While the local coroner deemed the death a homicide, the DA announced in late September that no charges would be filed against any of the officers involved.
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DENVER: No charges to be filed against jail guards responsible for death of Marvin Booker

Marvin BookerDenver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey announced today that no charges will be filed in the death of man at the new Denver jail.
The deputies who subdued Marvin Booker on July 9 were justified in their use of force, he said in a news release.

Booker was a slightly built 56-year-old street preacher who died after being restrained by five sheriff’s deputies in the booking area of the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Facility. He had been arrested for alleged possession of drug paraphernalia.

Booker, after disobeying an order about his shoes, was placed in a sleeper or carotid hold on the floor and shocked by a Taser — deputies piled on top of him, according to the coroner’s report.

Booker was taken to an isolation cell. An inmate later noticed and told authorities Booker wasn’t breathing.
The coroner ruled Aug. 20 Booker’s death a homicide.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said in statement that the internal affairs investigation is ongoing.

“The Denver Sheriff Department is investigating the case with the oversight of the Office of Independent Monitor and ultimate review by the Manager of Safety,” the statement said. “The deputies involved remain on investigatory leave during the internal affairs investigation.

Booker’s family and supporters have been seeking the release of the videotape of his jailhouse death.

Rev. Timothy Tyler, the pastor of Denver’s Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal Church, today asked for the videotape with a letter signed by 500 people. He and a few other AME pastors planned to personally deliver the request to Morrissey’s office before the decision on charges was announced.

“The family wants to see the last few minutes of their loved one’s life,” Tyler said.

He isn’t asking for public release to media or even attorneys — only Booker’s family would see it, Tyler said. Morrissey has not responded to this specific request, Tyler said, but only repeats there will be no public release.

The statement from Hickenlooper seemed to indicate that might happen.

“We are committed to working with Mr. Booker’s family and their attorneys to arrange a private viewing of the jail video,” the mayor said. “The video will be made available to the public at the conclusion of the internal affairs investigation and disciplinary process.”
Tyler is a friend of the Booker family, which has confronted Denver authorities demanding justice for Marvin. Booker’s father, Benjamin Booker, is an elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The short letter Tyler delivered read in part: “Though I agree it is important to preserve and protect any evidence that can be used in a potential criminal investigation, I do not believe showing this video exclusively to the immediate members of the Booker family will in any way taint or harm the investigation.”

It further states: “As a resident of this community, I believe this action will go a long way in restoring trust in the Denver justice system.”

Electa Draper: 303-954-1276 or edraper@denverpost.com

Read more: DA: No charges against jail deputies in Booker death – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/commented/ci_16196189?source=commented-news#ixzz10s4UcL7N

Welfare and Warrantless Searches

Rochio Sanchez and the Fourth Amendment

September 3 – 5, 2010

Opinions from Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal are of interest to a variety of people. Lawyers read them in order to learn what the law is with respect to issues that have been ruled on by the Courts in the Circuits in which they live. The poor, who live within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, read them to learn how their constitutional rights differ from those of the well off. They were reminded of this in August by the same court that had tutored them three years earlier in the case of Rochio Sanchez v. County of San Diego.

Sanchez was decided by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in April 2007 and the U.S. Supreme Court announced in November of that year that it would not review the court’s decision. The case stands for the proposition that it is OK to search people’s homes without a warrant. Before my readers rush to add strong locks to all their doors I must reassure them. The case has no applicability to my readers. Their homes are protected by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that bans unreasonable searches and seizures. The people in California whose homes are not protected by the Fourth Amendment are those on welfare.

In 1997, the San Diego District Attorney came up with “Project 100%.” Under the program those wanting to participate in the county welfare program must consent to unannounced visits from members of the Public Affairs Fraud Division who walk through the house looking in drawers, medicine cabinets, etc. to make sure no crimes are being committed. The practical consequences are that welfare recipients are forced to trade the protection afforded by the Fourth Amendment for welfare benefits. That is not, of course, how the judge who wrote for the majority sees it. It is how Judge Harry Pregerson, writing for the dissenters, sees it. He said: “This case is nothing less than an attack on the poor. San Diego’s program strips these individuals of their rights of privacy. . . . This is especially atrocious in light of the fact that we do not require similar intrusions into the homes and lives of others who receive government entitlements. The government does not search through the closets and medicine cabinets of farmers receiving subsides.”

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Criminalizing homelessness: State repression against foodsharing

.From Long Island Food Not Bombs:

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless jointly released a new report entitled A Place at the Table: Prohibitions on Sharing Food with People Experiencing Homelessness. The report focuses on cities that have created ordinances, policies and tactics to limit groups from sharing food with homeless people. Alternative solutions and programs to penalizing food sharing activities are highlighted in the report.

The report argues that targeting churches, service providers and volunteers by placing restrictions on providing food to homeless people is part of a broader trend toward criminalizing homelessness. Criminalization measures include city laws that outlaw activities homeless people are forced to do in public spaces because of their lack of a home or shelter, such as sitting on sidewalks and eating and sleeping in public. These laws have been created in communities nationwide and are an ineffective response to homelessness. The report outlines how different types of laws and tactics are being used to restrict food sharing. It features food sharing restrictions in 23 communities across the country.

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless
Source/further reading:
Download here:http://lifnb.com/files/informational_media/zines/A_Place_at_the_Table_0.pdf