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Campaign Nonviolence Stands with the Fort Lauderdale Movement

Posted by Ken Butigan
11.26.14

Campaign Nonviolence honors the movement to end criminalization of homelessness in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  We oppose the violence and injustice of the city’s measures to prevent efforts to share food with children, women and men who are without shelter — and we support the growing movement taking public, nonviolent action to end all policies dehumanizing our sisters and brothers there.

Campaign Nonviolence is a long-term movement to foster a comprehensive culture of peace free from war, poverty, the climate crisis, and the epidemic of violence. It takes a stand against violence anywhere and for a culture of peace and nonviolence everywhere.  Campaign Nonviolence therefore stands with the growing movement in Fort Lauderdale to foster a community where everyone matters.

We at Campaign Nonviolence are moved by all the actions being taken for justice in Fort Lauderdale, including those by Arnold Abbott, Piero Falci, Pastor Craig Watts, Rev. Mark Sims — and the powerful decision of Jillian Pim of Food Not Bombs to fast until homeless people are able to eat in public.

Campaign Nonviolence national organizers include people who were part of a nonviolent struggle in the mid-1990s in San Francisco, Calif. entitled Religious Witness with Homeless People.  This coalition, which included 45 mosques, synagogues and Protestant and Catholic churches, engaged in a campaign to end the city’s repressive, discriminatory policies toward the homeless, including criminalization of eating and sleeping in public.  In addition to organizing numerous “sleep-ins” in city parks – where many of us were arrested night after night — we also held a banquet in the place most off-limits to homeless people in the city (directly in front of City Hall, in Civil Center Plaza).

Eight hundred of our homeless sisters and brothers joined us at 45 tables with linen table cloths, elegant dishware, goblets, cut flowers, and the most succulent food being served anywhere in the city that Sunday afternoon.  We were serenaded by three choirs on risers we had erected.  Though we had notified the city that we were going to do this, we were able to pull up one truck after another with the tables and fixings and assemble this ad hoc festivity so quickly that the police were unsure about trying to prevent us from doing this.  In the end they held back and we had a profound experience that was both concrete (we shared a great meal together) and symbolic (we had a dramatized foretaste of the kind of society that should exist – where everyone can eat till their full, and to do so with together).

Both the sleep-ins and the banquet garnered widespread media coverage and strengthened our city-wide organizing.  Eventually it led to meetings with the mayor and to the city scrapping its program – a decision that was dramatically signified by the district attorney shredding thousands of tickets that had been issued to homeless people in San Francisco.

Campaign Nonviolence offers its solidarity with the creative and powerful nonviolent movement for the well being of all unfolding in Fort Lauderdale, and salute with love all who gathered publicly for change there on November 29 for justice and nonviolence.

For more information, see this local media coverage.

 

Campaign Nonviolence was launched September 21-27, 2014 with 238 Campaign Nonviolence events in all fifty states. This multi-year initiative seeks over time to build a majority movement for a comprehensive culture of peace by mainstreaming the power of active nonviolence, by connecting the dots between existing movements, and by building the capacity of this new people power movement.  To hear more about Religious Witness with Homeless People in San Francisco, click on this link from the Metta Center for Nonviolence: http://mettacenter.org/ppr/direct-action-homelessness-crime/

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