People Project writes Open Letter to City of Arcata

Peace be with you

Here is more on Arcata fascists attempt to starve its hungry residents:

August 12, 2008

Arcata City Council &
City Clerk/City Manager
736 F Street
Arcata, CA 95521

Re: City harassment of residents publicly sharing food

To Mayor Mark Wheetley, Council Members Harmony Groves,
Michael Machi, Alex Stillman, Paul Pitino, Arcata City Manager Michael Hackett, City Attorney Nancy Diamond, and all others who may be concerned:

This letter is in support of generous people in Arcata who provide a basic human necessity, healthy food, to anyone who needs it. This letter also opposes the recent threats by city officials, police, and the health inspector against these good people of Arcata, in particular, threats against a woman (and U.S. military veteran) who has been sharing food with about 100 people a day, 4 days a week, from downtown Arcata to Valley West. The threats made against her are based on erroneously cited ‘law’ and shrouded in disingenuous claims of concern for public health and safety.

Arcata is one of many towns in the country who has engaged its people in “soup wars.” Over and over again, in San Francisco, in smaller cities all over California, in New York, in Massachusetts, in Oregon, in Florida, in Washington DC, in Arcata, (and the list goes on), city governments- using police and at times health inspectors- have arrested, threatened and attempted to intimidate people from sharing food in public, when that food was filling the bodies of poor people. In all instances, the people have won, and sharing food in public continues in those places. It should be embarrassing to the City of Arcata to be, once again, taking an oppressive stance and putting resources and thought toward intimidating the sharing of food in public- solely when that food reaches community members who have few other options. Even more shameful is the City’s recent harassment of the community members who put so much care into preparing healthy food for the very people whom the City has marginalized.

It is apparent that the City of Arcata is eager to take grant money under the pretense of helping poor and houseless people, but consistently undermines efforts to actually meet the needs of poor and houseless people. While the City of Arcata neglects its civil duty to care for its poorer residents, and while it systematically disregards and violates the rights of Arcata residents who are unemployed, who do not own property, who are lacking family support, who have returned from war, who are avoiding military service, and who do not have finances to meet basic needs, there are true civil servants who work hard to take care of the people whom you seem to want to disappear.

While it is legal for people to share food in public at no cost (like any other picnic), it is illegal for you to harass, profile, and intimidate, and for you to deprive your constituents of access to freely shared food, to chill the constitutionally-protected expression embodied in the sharing of food, and to intimidate people from their constitutionally-protected right to assemble.

Considering the blatant offensive moves you’ve been making to deprive poor people in Arcata from carrying out life-sustaining activities, it may be useless to remind you, the government officials of the City of Arcata, that repressing the sharing of food is cruel and immoral, but nevertheless we remind you. And we urge that you not only uphold the Constitution (as you swore to do to take office) by ceasing to use intimidation tactics against the people in Arcata, but also that you honor humanity and be grateful for the generous and integrious acts by caring residents in Arcata.

Sincerely,
PEOPLE PROJECT

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