Fun_People Archive
19 Jul
More on Food Not Bombs in San Francisco

Date: Tue, 19 Jul 94 13:57:22 PDT
To: Fun_People
Subject: More on Food Not Bombs in San Francisco

Forwarded-by: <>
Forwarded-by: Fred Chase <>
Forwarded-by: (Deke Motif Nihilson)
Forwarded-by: Stephen Dunifer <>
Pacifist and Advocate for the Homeless Held Political Prisoner by
the City of San Francisco

	Under circumstances more closely resembling a collaborative effort
between Franz Kafka and Lewis Caroll, San Francisco Food Not Bombs
activist and author Keith McHenry is being held in jail as a political
prisoner by the City of San Francisco with bail set at $75,000.  A long
time pacifist and advocate for the rights of the poor and homeless, Keith
has been the target of an escalating series of false arrests, police
brutality, stalkings by members of Mayor Frank Jordan's staff, and other
forms of intimidation and official harassment.  Despite being physically
attacked by both the San Francisco Police and mayoral staff members, Keith
has yet to raise a hand to strike back at his attackers.  Nor has he been
discouraged from continuing to be a vocal critic of the anti-homeless
policies put forward by Mayor Frank Jordan at the behest of the downtown
business and corporate interests, who, in the words of one Union Square
business person, want to see their areas of business become a mercantile
"Disneyland" complete with private security forces.

	Keith's present situation arose from a series of incidents
beginning earlier in the year when he was attacked in City Hall by Nick
Roomel, an aide to Mayor Frank Jordan.  Prior to that assault Nick Roomel
had been stalking Keith for several months.  Curiously, the primary
witness for the city turned out to be Randy Ridle a member of the City
Attorney's staff and whose name appears on numerous legal documents
targeting Food Not Bombs since 1989.  Nick's alleged that Keith hit him
and attempted to steal his beeper, this version of the incident was
supported by Randy Ridle.  Keith was arrested and charged with felony
assault and strong arm robbery.  This effectively prevented Keith from
testifying on the behalf of another Food Not Bombs activist, Robert Kahn,
who was being charged with violating the court injunction ordering Food
Not Bombs not to serve food to the homeless in San Francisco Parks, i.e.
Civic Center Plaza.

	After a series of up and down bail amounts Keith was released from
custody after posting a bond on a bail amount of $10,000.  Several months
later on Tuesday, May 10, 1994 Keith was arrested while setting up an
information table.  After an initial inability to figure out what to
charge him with the San Francisco police charged him with receiving stolen
property, a milk crate.  At that time he was helping to put together a
demonstration scheduled for Wednesday, May 11 to fight the attacks on the
poor and homeless in Santa Cruz, CA.  This obviously bogus charge was
dropped and Keith was released from custody on Thursday, May 12.  On the
following day he went into City Hall to distribute some information
packets.  When he and a friend entered the office of Supervisor Kaufman
they were stopped by Nancy Katz, an aide, who started screaming at them.
As they backed out of the office she attempted to slam the door on them.
To protect his friend from being hit by the door Keith raised his hand to
block the door.  His hand made contact with the glass portion of the door
which shattered, severely lacerating his hand.  Police officers literally
followed a trail of blood to the office of an attorney located across the
street at Opera Plaza.  He was arrested and held for 7 hours before
receiving any medical treatment for his injuries which included a severed
artery.  Charged with felony assault, vandalism and refusal to leave the
property, Keith remained in jail until Tuesday, May 17 when bond was
posted on his bail of $25,000.  Again, the only other witness to this
incident was, guess who, Randy Ridle.

	Seizing upon this as an opportunity to impugn and slander Keith
McHenry and to portray him as a violent, psychotic person totally out of
control, the District Attorney's office demanded a bail hearing to
increase Keith's bail in the Nick Roomel case.  This request was granted
and on Friday, May 20 the bail was increased to $75,000 which was much
lower that what the DA was shooting for, at least $250,000.  At this
moment bail is being raised to bring about Keith's release as soon as
possible.  Otherwise, he would remain in jail until July 11, the date set
for the trial in the Nick Roomel case.

	Obviously, one does not have to be Sherlock Holmes to see the
pattern developing here.  Keith McHenry's friendly and warm demeanor
combined with an iron determination to bring about a more just and humane
world make him a very effective organizer.  It is rather easy to see the
bifurcated strategy at work here.  One, set up situations where more and
resources have to be expended in legal battles, bail funds, legal costs,
etc.  Two, isolate and marginalize Keith by escalating portrayals of him
as a violent and dangerous person.  Such tactics can ultimately be used to
justify about any action that might be taken against Keith in the future
by the San Francisco Police, including murder.  He, along with other
members of Food Not Bombs, have received death threat from members of the
San Francisco police.  Police operations against Food Not Bombs are being
carried out by an elite unit known as Special Operations. In the past such
groupings in police departments were called "Red Squads".

	Since 1989 members of the City Attorney's office have pursued a
campaign of harassment against Food Not Bombs and Keith McHenry.  In the
past there have been 12 incidents where Keith has been arrested, put in
jail on bogus charges and the charges dropped prior to any court
proceedings.  Over 350 arrests of Food Not Bombs members have taken place
since the implementation of Mayor Frank Jordan's infamous Matrix program
in August, 1993.  Food servers and supporters have been beaten, tortured,
harassed and sexually assaulted by the San Francisco police who have even
gone as far to chase one of Keith's dogs, Pluto, off the edge of a cliff
breaking it legs..  In custody, hot soup was dumped on one man and a woman
was forced to go to the bathroom in front of an entire group of male
officers.  Arrests have been extremely brutal and violent, all for the
simple act of serving food to the homeless.  Many of these incidents have
been well documented and the video tapes bear witness to the violence
perpetrated on Food Not Bombs by the City of San Francisco.

	In a statement from jail, Keith McHenry summed it up this way:

"This level of attack indicates the City of San Francisco is worried about
the degree of resistance that groups such as Food Not Bombs can generate.
These attacks clarify just how immoral, greedy and corrupt the government
of San Francisco is.  To jail someone repeatedly on trumped up felony and
misdemeanor charges because they feed the homeless and hand out flyers
supporting the civil rights of the poor clearly exposes the corrupting
influence of corporate power on civil rights and liberties in this
country.  It is becoming increasingly clear that the ideals and vision of
San Francisco Food Not Bombs and its 50 sister groups across North America
are spreading rapidly and gaining world wide support and recognition.  An
increasing onslaught of mail, phone calls and international media
recognition are evidence for this.  Our voice is being heard in at least
60 countries around the world on an international shortwave program
broadcast by Radio For Peace in Costa Rica. We will not be stopped from
exerting and expressing our fundamental right to resist political
repression and our demand for an equitable distribution of wealth and

	Friends of Keith McHenry and those who have worked with him are
encouraged to write individual statements attesting to his character and
commitment to non-violence and social change.  Mail these to: Food Not
Bombs, 3124 Geary Blvd, #12, San Francisco, CA 94118.  Funds for legal
defense and bail should be made out to Food Not Bombs and sent to the same

	Organizations and individuals around the world are encouraged to
hold support demonstrations and press conferences to demand the release of
Keith McHenry, the immediate cessation of the attacks on Food Not Bombs
and the homeless by the City San Francisco and an investigation of the
City of San Francisco by the Justice Department, Congress and
organizations such as the UN Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty
International for its violation of civil, constitutional and human rights.
Further, they should call Mayor Frank Jordan to express their concern and
outrage - (415) 554-6141.

For general information call the Food Not Bombs hot line: (415) 330-5030
News media please call  (510) 549-0732.

[=] © 1994 Peter Langston []