Dennis Bernstein, Flashpoints, free speech, gentrification, Hungry for Peace, KPFA, KPFA/Pacifica Radio internal conflict, Pacifica Radio, police militarisation, police state, sit-lie ordinance, transcript, urban economics
LUMPENPROLETARIAT—Food Not Bombs is one of the most ubiquitous social justice groups around. In Lawrence, Kansas, when university students from various Midwestern schools, including UMKC, attend a weekend-long Heartland Conference activist workshop conducted by United Students Against Sweatshops, it’s Food Not Bombs, which keeps hungry students well-fed. During the Occupy Movement, it was Food Not Bombs, which consistently turned up to help feed Occupy encampments. Indeed, Food Not Bombs has been around for decades feeding the hungry, whilst raising political consciousness.
Recently, Food Not Bombs celebrated its 35th Anniversary. Flashpoints (KPFA/Pacifica Radio) caught up with Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry (b. 1957). Listen here or here. 
INDYBAY—(28 MAY 2015) On May 24, the 35th anniversary of Food Not Bombs was marked with a six hour party in Santa Cruz. Those needing nourishment were greeted with live music and an especially celebratory atmosphere, in addition to free food, a free market, and a variety of other free services.
By combining social and environmental justice activism, nonviolent direct action, and a philosophy that emphasizes sharing over charity, Food Not Bombs has differentiated itself from other global organizations that distribute food to the hungry. The organization is comprised of hundreds of autonomous, volunteer-supported chapters that share free vegetarian meals with the hungry around the globe. There are no leaders running Food Not Bombs; local groups use the consensus process.
Hundreds of meals were shared over the course of the six hour celebration in Santa Cruz. A private solar shower booth was set up, and stylists cut people’s hair for free. Books, clothing, and plant starts were available as part of the free market. A number of bands and musicians performed together and separately, and social justice organizations set up informational tables. Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry was in attendance, and his birthday was also incorporated into the celebration. Food Not Bombs volunteers joined hands with other revelers to capture and roll McHenry into a giant human cinnamon bun.
Learn more at INDYBAY.
FLASHPOINTS—(3 JUN 2015) Today on Flashpoints: Hunger, food and politics in America. We’ll feature an extended conversation with Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs, which just celebrated its 35th Anniversary. Also we feature the next installment of our in-depth multi-part series, “The Battle for Public Education In the 21st Century”
Click on the link below t0 listen to today’s show
Listen here: Flashpoints 06-03-15
Learn more at FLASHPOINTS.NET.
FLASHPOINTS—(3 JUN 2015) Today, on Flashpoints, hunger, food and politics in America. We’ll feature an extended conversation with Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs, which just celebrated its 35th Anniversary. And we feature the next installment of our in-depth, multipart series: The Battle for Education in the 21st Century. with host and producer Ken Yale. All this straight ahead on Flashpoints. Stay tuned.”
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “In Berkeley [CA], I’m Dennis Bernstein. You’re listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio. We turn our attention back to food and hunger in America. And we’re always delighted to be joined by Keith McHenry. He’s the co-founder of Food Not Bombs, the organisation, just celebrated its 35th anniversary, giving out free food to some of the hungriest people in the country. Keith McHenry joins us from Santa Cruz, California. Keith, welcome back to Flashpoints.”
KEITH McHENRY: “Thanks for having us. It’s great.”
[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]
McHENRY: [SNIP] (c. 21:24) “So, [SNIP] we thought, at the very beginning of Food Not Bombs, we would have a literature table at our meals, that would combine issues like the exploitation of animals, but also of racism, sexism, homophobia, all of these issues about the arms race, about the wars, at that time, in El Salvador and Central America, the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union.
“These issues were all things we were trying to show are, basically, in the same—are all connected. There’s no, really—what you’re eating as a—in your diet and global politics. They’re all connected. And the environment. These things, you can’t separate these things, we feel, at Food Not Bombs. And we try to show that.” (c. 22:15) [SNIP]
[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]
McHENRY: (c. 27:58) “It is heartbreaking. And, the first times when we saw that, I was shocked. So, we had to, actually—because we felt responsible, even though it’s—really, the authorities should not come in, of course, and steal people’s food from them. And we’ve seen real cruelty by the authorities, at times, where they’ll actually throw the food into the gutter in front of hungry people. You could see them crying and everything. It’s terrible.
“So, what we did was we created a policy, we actually have in my book, Hungry for Peace. I have a whole section on how to do this because it was so upsetting. We decided that we would bring small amounts of food out, at first, knowing that the authorities would arrest us. So, there would be a little bit of food. A couple of people would be arrested. That food would be thrown away. And then, in a little bit, more food would be brought out. Those people would be arrested. And that food would be arrested and confiscated and seized. And, then, for whatever reason, the police tend not to come back on the third or fourth time. And, so, we would bring out enough food for every single person to eat because it was just so heartbreaking to see people, like, you know, wait, all day.
“I have to say, in America, the number of times people have come up to me in recent months and said they had not eaten in days. And this is something, that’s really shocking. In the wealthiest country, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, people can go three days, four days, sometimes seven days before finding a meal. And, sometimes, that’s because they’re new to a town or, in the case of when I was in Orlando and being arrested there, people commonly say they haven’t eaten in days. And that was because you, frequently, need a Florida, a valid Florida ID to eat at the soup kitchen. In fact, there’s a whole programme called I Dignity to get people Florida ID’s, so they can eat at Florida’s soup kitchens. I mean it’s really a crazy policy.
“But in Santa Cruz, California, now, they have said there was a $300,000 cut in funding from HUD for the local shelter. Over a thousand meals a day will be eliminated, starting July 1st. They’re also eliminating the showers. Some of the only showers in the town. A lot of other services—48 beds are being closed. The emergency shelter is being shut down. This is in a very wealthy community of Santa Cruz, California. And, apparently, similar things are happening in Monterey and in Santa Clara and in San Jose.”
BERNSTEIN: “Well, I mean isn’t that why it’s happening? Because it’s, for instance, Santa Cruz, California—for people listening somewhere else—I mean there’s a boardwalk there. You know? There is a traditional sort of rides structure. It’s a gold mine waiting, if you will—in some people’s minds—to really be developed. Is this, sort of, the move in that direction, where the super rich take a place like Santa Cruz and really pump it up?” (c. 31:11)
McHENRY: “Yeah, this is why we don’t have, like, you know, the smoking gun. But it appears to be. And it’s kinda crazy that they’re doing it right before the summer when so many people are gonna show up in Santa Cruz to enjoy the boardwalk on all the sights here. You’re gonna see this visible increase in poverty at exactly the same time. It seems kind of insane that even the rich would come up with such a plot. Why don’t they, you know, do this in the winter when less people are coming here? But that’s what they’re doing.
“And we expect that there’s, actually, going to be an increased number of suicides. There’s actually been people at the shelter, that said they can’t go back out on the street again. They’re just gonna take their own lives. And we are very concerned about that.
“And we’ve had several really passionate letters from residents of the shelter, you know, saying that they’re very, very worried that people are just not going to be able to take it, out on the streets. And we’re already seen a huge problem with the shelter already, as it is. (c. 32:20)
“You know. We had our anniversary celebration on Sunday, the 24th of May. We provided showers. We had six or eight people take showers in an outdoor, you know, solar shower arrangement, that we placed there. We had over 20 people get haircuts at the celebration. And we had hundreds of people that came, not just for the celebration, but, really, because they needed to eat because the 24th was getting close to the end of the month. And people were getting desperate for food. And we see that is increasing already, without a thousand more meals being cut. Breakfast and dinner at the shelter is gonna be eliminated. And it’s going to be—it’s already a crisis now—but this will be even more intense.
“And I’m sure that they’ve started making anti-Sit-Lie laws down in Monterey. And they’re gonna be cutting homeless services there. And I think you’re right. The idea is to drive these people, the people that were in many cases born and raised in these communities out of the area. But the reality is, you know, people will not move out of the area. You know their social—their friends are here. The things that they know are here. And, besides, people don’t have the resources to move to some other place and start over. (c. 33:40)
“So, you know. This is a very strange thing that it’s a very wealthy community and we got—the federal government cut $300,000 out of the homeless services, but provided roughly $300,000 for armoured Bearcat vehicle for the local police department. And, apparently, the police are getting even larger amounts of money, in some cases, grants of nearly a million dollars and so on. So, you know, more policing of Santa Cruz, while they’re pushing more people into even more dire needs.” (c. 34:24)
[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]
[Transcript by Messina]
 It seems, in past years, Flashpoints’ radio broadcast archives could be found reliably at KPFA.org: https://kpfa.org/program/flashpoints/
Now, as noted at the official Flashpoints website, Flashpoints.net, some or all audio archives are deleted by free speech radio KPFA: http://www.flashpoints.net/ Much important radical analysis is lost to the people. Yet, we affirm: All power to the people.
(Thus, Lumpenproletariat.org will work to archive as much news, knowledge, and information from radical, critical perspectives as possible, given time and resource constraints. Contact us here to find out how you can help contribute to the people’s free flow of information and common stock of knowledge at Lumpenproletariat.org.)
With important radical radio archives being deleted, the people’s grassroots historical memory is seriously impaired—so much for the free flow of information, which used to be one of KPFA’s primary objectives. However, an ongoing internal conflict between pro-Democrat liberals and the rest of KPFA, mostly radical grassroots activists, has led the moneyed pro-Democrats to pursue an agenda of slowly NPR-ising KPFA (and the entire national Pacifica Radio network and its democratic governance structure.) For example, KPFA’s official nickname used to be “Free Speech Radio KPFA”. Today, it’s been watered down to “Community Powered Radio.” This is a very subtle, but insidious, move to de-emphasise free speech and dissent.
[Last modified 14:23 PDT 6 JUN 2015]