Today is International Peace Day so I thought I would do a sketch about "Food not Bombs". This is a group that supplies food to Orlando's homeless around the picnic area of Lake Eola Park every Wednesday. This group has faced arrests and police harassment since they began serving food in 2005. In July of 2006 the city passed an ordinance that severely limited the ability of groups to share food in 36 different parks around Orlando. The ordinance stated that any group that shares food with more than 25 people, including servers, must be limited to 2 food servings per 12 month period. Violation of this ordinance could carry a 60 day jail sentence and a $500 fine. The city claimed that food scraps left on the ground could be harmful to birds and squirrels, Garbage could affect public health, and that public safety would be threatened by the homeless attracted to the food. From my observations of this event, Food not Bombs did a great job of cleaning up after the feeding. As I sketched I certainly didn't feel threatened in any way. I felt more threatened drawing at Neiman Marcus last week.
In April of 2007 Eric Montanez was arrested for violating the ordinance. 8 police officers were on hand to arrest him for serving stew. Police even took a sample of the vegan stew as evidence. Montanez was acquitted at his jury trial.
On September 26th 2008 Food Not Bombs won a victory against the city when federal judge Gregory Presnell rules that the City Ordinance violated Food Not Bombs right to free speech under the first amendment since the food sharings are expressive conduct carried out to convey a political message. As he stated "Not withstanding their diffuse political views, all Orlando Food Not Bombs members share in OFNB's core belief: that food is a right which society has a responsibility to provide all of its members."