Buddy Dyer, mayor of Orlando, Florida, claims the Orlando’s Food Not Bombs are “food terrorists.” The Food Not Bombs Movement writes that their mission is to share “free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry. With over a billion people going hungry each day how can we spend another dollar on war?”
Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA by Matthew Woitunski
(Creative Commons Attribution)
Despite a city ordinance making it unlawful, Food Not Bombs has been distributing meals every Monday morning and Wednesday evening at Orlando’s Lake Eola Park. Police have cracked down on the food distribution, and have made twenty-one arrests over the past few weeks.
According to Amy Goodman writing for TruthDig.com, “at issue is a city law, the “Large Group Feeding” ordinance, that requires groups to obtain a permit to serve food, even for free, to groups of 25 or more. Such permits are granted to any group only twice per year. Orlando Food Not Bombs has already used both of its allowed permits this year.”
At first blush, it would seem irresponsible for any mayor to crack down on folks who are feeding homeless Americans for free. One would think that a mayor would embrace such endeavors, and help facilitate feeding of people in need. “These good souls are trying to feed the hungry. And then Buddy, who looks as if he never let a plate of barbecue ribs pass by untouched, has them arrested for the crime of filling empty stomachs,” writes Mike Thomas in Dyer getting bad rap on homeless feedings for the Orlando Sentinel.
However, as Thomas reports, there is another side of the story. According to Thomas “Orlando is making a substantial investment in creating a mixed-use urban center of residences, business, dining and shopping. That has created conflict with the homeless, who have as much right to public places as the public who pay for them.
“The centerpiece of downtown is Lake Eola. A few years ago, several groups began using it as a location to feed the homeless.
“They were turning the city’s signature park into an outdoor soup kitchen. There was concern that the number of homeless would hit a tipping point and people would stay away. Surrounding businesses and residential areas were worried about an upswing in homeless traffic on their streets.
“So an ordinance was passed in 2006 that banned the feedings, with everyone complying except Food Not Bombs.”
The collective group Anonymous., who is associated with international hacktivism, and who CNN claims to be one of the three major successors to WikiLeaks, decided to take-up the issue: Anonymous has declared a war on Orlando, saying they “will now begin a massive campaign against you and your city web assets. Every day we will launch a new DDoS attack [Denial-of-service attack] on a different Target. We will continue to E-Mail millions of people in 50 countries with the Boycott Orlando campaign message.”
Mark Schlueb, Orlando Sentinel, in his article Hackers attack Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s campaign website says, “The computer hacker group Anonymous — credited with crashing the websites of Visa and MasterCard in support of Wikileaks — launched what it called “Operation Orlando” on Tuesday, disabling a tourism website and the mayor’s own campaign site.”
Terrorism is most often thought of as using violence against government or others in order to intimidate and coerce them into changing their behavior. But, terrorism can be the threatened or actual use of force that does not cause personal injury to change behavior not complying with a certain ideology, as well. A cyber attack to bully the city of Orlando into complying is terrorism. Buddy Dyer’s “food terrorists.” claim is not off the mark, albeit it’s not Food Not Bombs but Anonymous taking the action of their behalf.
However, more importantly in and of itself is the issue of homelessness in America. It seems to be hypocritical of America to stand for human rights and dignity for every human being and on the other hand allow for homelessness. The city of Orlando may believe they have good reasons for their crack down, but they could have accommodated Food Not Bombs an alternate venue and offered other support as opposed to arresting people. And there is still another side: police enforcement is intimidation and its purpose is to coerce, it does fit into the meaning of terrorism.