From Voice of Freedom Park, Tampa, FL: Interview With Food Not Bombs Activist Nathan Pim

By lambert strether.

Nathan Pim of Food Not Bombs (twitter) contacted Naked Capitalism because of the convention coverage we’ve been doing, and I thought that Naked Capitalism readers might be interested in hearing from somebody directly on the ground with Occupy about what’s going on in Tampa, so I arranged to interview him. Once again, Stephen Malagodi agreed to handle it, and The Unknown Transcriptionist agreed to transcribe.

We edited the transcript very lightly for clarity. As I read along, and started tallying all the people Nathan’s been connecting with, it struck me: He’s a… He’s a community organizer, isn’t he? I mean, not a fake one. In so many ways the transcript is one answer to the question asked by several contributors yesterday on this thread: What actions can we take? Well, Nathan’s answer is to feed people (“sharing”). And actions that flow from that.

The transcript isn’t brief, but there’s a lot of local color and great detail from the ground that I haven’t read anywhere else.

* * *

AUGUST 22, 2012

STEPHEN MALAGODI: First of all, tell me a little bit about yourself.

NATHAN PIM: Okay, well I’m 27 years old, I up until recently was living in Fort Lauderdale. Me and my wife have been doing Food Not Bombs related activism. Well, I’ve been doing it – I first started doing Food Not Bombs like probably eight years ago, but me and my wife have been doing sharings of Food Not Bombs in Fort Lauderdale at the very least for the last 2 or 2-1/2 years, and we’re pretty dedicated to it. We usually think it’s more important than having jobs or anything like that, so when we heard about the Food Not Bombs world gathering being planned ahead of the RNC in Tampa, combined with the fact that I went to college in Tampa and my wife’s from Tampa, we decided to, you know, make sure we were going to be available to organize for all the people coming into town for it.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: What is the Food Not Bombs world gathering?

NATHAN PIM: Well, Food Not Bombs is a pretty decentralized organization that has chapters that, you know, people just decide to form a Food Not Bombs chapter wherever they want and they can do it, and there’s no like central office you have to get permission from or anything like that. So periodically we try to have gatherings where all these different actions can at least get together and more of them can meet each other and talk to each other about what they do with their homeless advocacy and with outreaching of people about, you know, the political aspects of homelessness, and also to come up with new ideas to kind of innovate what Food Not Bombs is. So there’s been a few, there’s been a couple of world gatherings in the past. There was one in San Francisco and Keith was saying there was one in, I don’t know, like Russia a few years ago. I didn’t really hear about that one. So we try to do one periodically to keep, keep it innovative.

Part of the reason it was also done in Florida in combination with the RNC is because Florida has been really on the cutting edge of coming up with discriminatory laws against the homeless, and I’ve been dealing with that in Fort Lauderdale a lot. There’s been people in Orlando [here –lambert] and Tampa and St. Pete and Tallahassee. I mean, just like every area of Florida, the different cities are coming up with different ways to try to make the homeless feel as unwelcome as possible in their cities.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: So this particular world gathering, it was planned to be in conjunction with the RNC?

NATHAN PIM: Yeah. What happened was, last year when things were bad in Orlando, there were a bunch of people being arrested because they passed a sharing ban, and they got the lawsuits out of the way and were finally able to enforce it and a bunch of people got arrested, and at that time we were talking about how, you know, the RNC is going to be in the area and that would be a good opportunity to kind of deal with the homeless discrimination issues as well as use an opportunity to also help people in Florida with this large convergence. Because in many other places where these kind of conventions usually happen, there’s a lot more community activists, community organizers that are used to doing these large events, and there’s really not here at all, and so it’s kicking; now we’re having a lot of people come from out of town to try to help make sure we can feed hundreds and hundreds of people every day. It’s not something a lot of people in Florida are that used to. Yeah.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: How is Food Not Bombs working with other organizations like Occupy Tampa and the broader coalition to march on the RNC? How are you coordinating that?

NATHAN PIM: Well, there’s very little separation between Occupy Tampa and Food Not Bombs. I mean, there’s different, there’s Food Not Bombs and Occupy Tampa people, but our fates are pretty similarly aligned at this point. We’re doing all of our events out of Occupy Tampa’s park, which is called Voice of Freedom Park. We’re planning on trying to get, if people want shelter or food or water or something – we’re going to be helping to bring some food to protests, but we’re also letting people know if they need other services and we’re not doing a sharing at that time, that we’re going to be trying to provide it back at Occupy Tampa’s location, and I mean I’ve basically been at Occupy Tampa for the last month doing some organizing, trying to figure out what all the different needs are.

Other groups – Coalition March on the RNC, I’m not sure we’ve talked too much. We do plan on going with them to do the share at their event, and I think they know that. It’s just not — we haven’t been in touch with every single group. Everybody knows we’re going to be there, but we’ve mostly been involved with groups like Occupy movement, IWW, and a few other like local groups that are kind of more aligned with that.

You know, one thing we’ve been trying to help is that at big events like this the message of regular people really gets drowned out and of problems that are happening outside of partisan political debates, so we’re really trying to help with that, and we haven’t been as involved with groups who just want to make this big statement about "I hate Republicans.” [cf. “strategic hate management”] Because really, as far as the issues going in Tampa right now, just like everywhere else in the country, it’s not the Republicans that are to blame for all the world – for all of Tampa’s problems. There’s a lot of things wrong, and even though there’s a lot of added media stimulation, we’re not even hearing that much of it actually.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: Well, I mean this is an event at the Republican National Convention, so it’s probably going to be seen as a statement about Republican Party politics, no?

NATHAN PIM: Right. Well, I mean we’re certainly speaking about some of those issues when we can, but there’s a lot of different things we’re doing that, you know – I guess the difference is between being purely political organizing and actually really getting involved in community organizing, and that’s something that we’ve been involved with a lot, especially because of where Occupy Tampa is. It’s in an area called historic West Tampa that’s right off downtown and it’s mostly a black community, poor, and they have a lot of – they have a public housing unit that the city wants to knock down to gentrify right now, and they have a lot of discriminatory police stuff going on right now, and we’re going to be trying to bring that message forward as much as we can as well.

Part of the reason we’re actually looking for more people to talk about issues here is because there was actually a big police action right around Occupy Tampa last Friday that mostly had to do with – it’s actually a regular summer occurrence for there to be a Friday block party in West Tampa, and that’s been going on for years, but then all of a sudden last week they shut down the whole neighborhood [see here; and here] , shut down the streets and started pulling absolutely everyone in sight out and were trying to prevent everyone from assembling, and it really seemed to be timed to coincide with the RNC and to sort of like – the community issues we’re talking about, you know. There’s a giant political argument going on, but there’s also things that the RNC is actually doing to individuals in the community and stuff like that, and that’s like a big concern for us right now.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: Tell us a little bit about how you wound up in this park. There’s some odd things about the park itself. Tell me about that whole process.

NATHAN PIM: Okay. Historically activist groups are not very welcome in downtown Tampa. Food Not Bombs Tampa at one point broke up because they had so much harassment downtown that the city actually walled off an entire park we were sharing in and locked the gates. So Tampa’s always pretty heavy-handed trying to keep people from like doing things like camping or stuff like that downtown. So they were getting arrested a lot. They had this one incident in December where just about everyone that showed up for protests got arrested at a park.

And so there’s a local millionaire who is a I guess a strip club and like sex toy mogul [Joe Redner]. He’s very well known for being a political firebrand in the area, and he just actually kind of approached people in Occupy Tampa and said, "You know, I want you guys to keep doing what you’re doing but you know I don’t want you guys to get beat up anymore, so I own a private park in this West Tampa neighborhood and I want you to stay there with my permission." It’s privately owned but it’s open to the public, and he said that people could stay there and continue doing what we’re doing, and that’s been what’s happening the last few months. And I think he really – I haven’t – I saw him recently at a city council. I haven’t talked to him too much, but he had seemed to have expressed a lot interest in specifically having this park available during the RNC. I think that’s kind of something he maybe had in mind all along with this.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: How have people who live in that area reacted to Occupy Tampa being in that park?

NATHAN PIM: I think it’s been pretty positive. There’s definitely people – it’s a pretty, like, down-to-earth neighborhood. You see like the same people every single day. They come by and talk. There’s people that come by to show support. There’s been business owners who have come forward who are like offering specials for us for the time being there and Ed has often talked to them. They kind of want to – they’re – I think we’re doing a cookoff with the West Tampa community on Saturday, but it’s just something some business owners actually came by yesterday and were asking us about the idea. I don’t know if it’s moved forward since then, but, yeah, it’s really been pretty positive. There’s always people just coming through and like talking to us. Sometimes I think there’s been people starting rumors about it being like not so great, but – and it is weird, you know, honestly, obviously, mostly younger white Occupiers in like an almost totally black neighborhood, but I think it’s actually been, in the month I’ve been here I’ve had pretty much nothing but good experiences with all the people of West Tampa.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: So tell me about the environment, you know, as it is right now as you’re gearing up for the RNC. What’s the environment like? Are people mainly encamped in tents in the park, or – tell me about that.

NATHAN PIM: I think possibly there are maybe six tents there. A lot of people are kind of cramming into people’s apartments just to get out of the rain, just because like the last – it’s been a shifting situation, so like the last few nights for some reason it has been raining relatively late. A lot of people have ducked out and crammed into people’s apartments to get out of it, but I hear it’s going to rain earlier today and it may rain less during the week, so there’ll probably be a lot more people staying at the camp. And then at Romneyville, which is like the other camp, there’s probably 15 or 20 –

STEPHEN MALAGODI: I’m sorry, what’s the name of it?

NATHAN PIM: Romneyville. It’s a camp created by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign specifically for the RNC. Yeah, it’s only been around for like a month or two. It’s not like Occupiers are involved with it. It’s like this nonprofit homeless advocacy group I guess. They have maybe 15 or 20 tents. They’re not in West Tampa. They’re actually in downtown. They talked an Army-Navy store into leasing its back yard out to them. That’s in the zone downtown, so they got very lucky with that, but it’s definitely attracted a lot of attention.

Like, right now, like yesterday I was at Occupy Tampa all day and not a single – like cop cars drive by because that’s what cop cars do, but there was no trouble. Cops didn’t even like get near to even talk to us, let alone tell us we were going to get in trouble for something. But I was in Romneyville for five minutes and there were four cop cars parked outside it and there was definitely a lot of attention there. It’s because of any event, but, from what I understand, it’s in the area that the Secret Service is supposed to have, you know, full rein over.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: Right. So Occupy Tampa has been dealing with the city and the police department in preparation for this. How has that gone?

NATHAN PIM: It’s been pretty good. I was at the last city council. I spoke on the fact that they shouldn’t try and, you know, do anything to make it any harder for us to do what we’re doing because it’s actually something that – you know, the protesters are coming, whether they like it or not. They need to like make sure that people have somewhere to go, or you know that it’s going to be sleeping like on the streets all over the place basically. And the city – like all the male city councilors at the Tampa City Council disagreed, and all the female city councilors actually agreed with us and me and saying that you know they had actually been – the one commissioner in particular, or councilperson, said that, you know, they had been toying around with the idea of designating a place for protesters to stay and that they totally, you know, stopped worrying about it like a couple of months ago and didn’t do anything about it, so we’re taking care of something that they kind of forgot about.

So, you know, basically, the last city council, the people that wanted to get rid of us said that they had no legal grounds to do so, and the people that didn’t want to get rid of us basically told the other councilmen to stop wasting everybody’s time with it, because they waived like half that city council agenda just so they could talk for probably an hour and 20 minutes about the Voice of Freedom Park, even though after the first 10 or 15 minutes it was pretty clear that they had no legal grounds to get rid of anybody because it’s a privately owned park. It’s a zone violation to have tents in the park, but all they can do is fine the owner, and like I said he wants this to happen, so I think even if he got fined it sounded like he was probably just going to pay them and keep it going.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: So how would you describe the overall relationship with the police department?

NATHAN PIM: Well, I’ve seen the police chief and she always appears like with the mayor and they always seem like they work very closely together on this whole RNC thing. And I actually got an e-mail from her the other day, because at the city council they were talking about maybe supplying more water and sanitation equipment to the area in West Tampa because so many of the protesters may be headed back to where we are in between events, and the police chief responded to my e-mail and said basically it wasn’t going to happen. But, so, yeah, they’re pretty – you know, they’re trying to put on a very good face for what’s happening.

You know, there’s not much of a really bad stigma. There’s been some experiences of course with like unnecessary arrests and people kind of getting mistreated in Occupy things in Florida, but it’s really not been anything like what people have seen in like New York or California or anything like that. For the most part you don’t see cops in riot gear. You don’t see people getting gassed or getting like you know led into a big crazy trap where they all get arrested. A lot of people think that has something to do with the FTAA [Free Trade Area of the Americas, 2003] and how you know like the city of Miami got sued for tens of millions of dollars [the “Miami model”], and I don’t think they wanted that, and –

STEPHEN MALAGODI: I was looking at the city of Tampa’s map, the street map for the convention, and most of the streets around the convention center, according to the map, it says they will be closed. Does that mean they’re closed to vehicular traffic, or are they going to try and keep the protesters off of those streets also? It’s a pretty wide area that says closed.

NATHAN PIM: If you’re talking about the area immediately around the convention center, there is like a whole network of streets and sidewalks and different parts of buildings there that are kind of walled off. It’s kind of like a whole compound where this convention is happening because they have like parks nearby that they’re going to, and it’s all kind of in this exclusionary zone that is definitely not a public area. There’s other streets in the downtown area that are going to be blocked off, some to foot traffic, some are blocked off to cars, but for the most part the majority of downtown Tampa is available for people to use.

They’re trying to make it kind of – they’re trying to pretend some of it is going to be normal, but there’s a pretty sizable area around the convention center itself where nobody can go. It’s kind of like this big compound where they can have a whole bunch of events without worrying about, you know, any unexpected people f*cking it up.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: Right. And so Occupy Tampa has been dealing with the police and the local government, but I was looking at the list of endorsers for the Coalition to March on the RNC and it’s a pretty diverse group. There’s two Florida Central Labor Councils from North Florida, there’s AFSCME Council 79 from Region 3, that’s also North Florida; seven chapters of SDS, five from Midwestern states, two from Florida; there’s five Florida Occupy organizations, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, one antiwar group from Minnesota I think. Once those people arrive, and I assume they’re all providing their own transportation, how is Occupy Tampa going to be able to keep things sort of together if you haven’t been working with them very closely?

NATHAN PIM: Well, you know the funny thing is that they kind of have their own meetings where, you know, many of them have been basically been talking about where they’re putting their money and stuff like that, so I guess what I’m trying to say is there’s kind of a delineation between groups that are like nonprofits and have funding that are coming and talking about these issues but have money for hotels and food, and what’s going on with the people that are coming that are more like Occupiers that kind of need support to be able to travel all this way.

Really we are hoping to look out for the people that aren’t really as much of a part of that. Like Code Pink. Well, first of all they’re staying at Romneyville, they kind of are having a lot of events there, but they also have, they also kind of, okay, I can definitely tell you a lot of their people are staying in hotel rooms and stuff like that.

So I, I personally know piles of people all across the state that are coming that aren’t part of any of those groups listed and are all people that work full-time or work when they can and can’t really, you know, pay these jacked-up hotel rates, so we’re going to be looking out for a lot of people that don’t get to be professional activists. They’re the ones that are trying to save what they can so that they can try to still take part in these things without like losing their jobs and losing their apartments and stuff like that.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: Has there been any kind of training for civil disobedience or any plans for civil disobedience?

NATHAN PIM: Well, there’s trainings for that, certainly, but I don’t really know of any in particular. I mean, I certainly know there’s groups that are coming that have a history of it. Jill Stein, I mean, she just got arrested like a month ago doing, I guess what she does campaigning [here], so she may have something like that planned. Code Pink does a lot of stuff like that. And you know there’s a lot of people that I think want to make strong statements about, you know, who want reproductive rights, and on the different Republican agendas, so you know I’m sure there’ll be people that are willing to, but, you know, I don’t think anybody is really announcing that sort of thing for this.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: Right. Well, I know you need to go, so just one more thing. There’s the possibility of very bad weather for this event. Have you been discussing that? Or what would happen if the police decide that for reasons of public safety that it’s unsafe for the Occupiers to stay in the park during what may be Hurricane Isaac?

NATHAN PIM: Well, I’m aware of the possibility of the storm, but you’re the first person to have thought of connecting that with them creating some kind of excuse like that. I mean we’re definitely prepared to be there along with anyone else who’s willing to tough out the weather. It’s already not great, to be honest, but honestly if there was some strong winds or something, it’d definitely make it a little bit less easier to get things done.

Yeah, I think that that’d be kind of – just like anything else, any other excuse that they want to try to come up with to try to stop protesters from coming is not – you know, there’s going to be a lot of people that are not going to be deterred by that, so hopefully they don’t try to do that. Really, yeah, I mean, it’s just like anything else. There’s going to be a lot of people coming here who are very determined to speak the voice of dissent, I guess, and yeah the storm’s not going to slow that down too much.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: All right, Nathan, thanks a lot. I know you want to go and have your breakfast. You’ve got a lot of work to do in the preparation for the RNC, so I want to thank you a lot for taking a half an hour with us this morning.

NATHAN PIM: Thanks. Thanks for listening.

STEPHEN MALAGODI: Sure, Nathan. Thank you.

* * *

Indeed, thank you.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. patricia

    “Thanks for your service!”—a phrase that I am delighted to tell everyone involved, from Nathan to Stephen to Lambert to all those mentioned/unmentioned.

    A nice save of that very tired word “sharing”, too.


  2. polistra

    This like shows, you know, why Goldman isn’t like worried or anything about like the, you know, Occupy dudes and shit. If you like really want to like do something and shit, you need to get like some structure and organization and shit.

    1. patricia

      Aw geeze, polistra, that’s a lot of snob so early on a Sunday morning.

      Imagine yourself in a Dickens book, as one of those British aristocrats sniffing at the accent and limited language of “those others”. Feeling it?

      And read Nathan Pim aloud. It has its own interesting lilt/movement. Because that’s what it is, verbal sound flowing.

      But anyway, nothing more fun/easy than focusing on form over function, right?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        To be fair, I had the same reaction. But it’s really privilege talking, isn’t it? I’m an old white dude with, though I say it, superb command of professional English; many, many class and cultural markers.

        And if I want to hear people who talk like me, there are plenty to be found in both legacy parties and on K Street (modulo the corruptions of Orwellian discourse I try to avoid). Or, if I shove those stops on my own personal Mighty Wurlitzer in, and pull out others, I can go read any number of turgid and long-forgotten revolutionary manifestoes.)

        But why would I want that? polistra, if you allow yourself to hear Nathan speaking in your mind, trust me, it’ll be fine. Tally up the tasks he’s performing and the people he’s meeting and you will, I think, be very impressed.

        And I also think that if “we” are to begin to stop the free fall, we had better learn to, like, listen to Nathan in the language in which he speaks to us. You know?

        1. ebear

          >>To be fair, I had the same reaction. But it’s really privilege talking, isn’t it?<<

          I don't think so. When Borat massacres the language it's funny. When a native speaker does so, it's just sad. Part of effective communication is to consider the destination. Who are you trying to reach? People within your peer group or the larger outside world? If you sound smart, people will think you are, and are more likely to listen. That's half your battle right there. Besides, when someone's trying to convince me of something, It's their job to be coherent, not my job to try and decipher what they're saying.

          1. RanDomino

            “Who are you trying to reach? People within your peer group or the larger outside world?”

            Communication is for people you actually communicate with. So the former.

          2. Anarcissie

            I didn’t find Nathan’s words incoherent or incomprehensible, and I’m surprised anyone else did. Yes, it’s demotic. So what? The intelligent person is the one who understands more, not less. Most demotic forms of English, such as Nathan’s, are really not all that difficult.

            As for that complaint the projects like Food Not Bombs are too disorganized to threaten Goldman Sachs, that’s not what Goldman Sachs seems to think, or they would not have had their police disperse Occupy Wall Street, a very similar non-organization. Human beings are capable of very high degrees of voluntary self-organization, but these talents can’t be fully exercised in the face of the violent, psychopathic state, which operates not only through force but fraud, propaganda, and subornation. We who would like to see something better have to stay flexible, fluid, subtle, working within interstices and margins until we can get more support and understanding from the people in general. By whom I refer mostly to the aforementioned demos.

          3. bhikshuni

            Well that line of argument may presume that YOU and your class of power brokers are in fact the target audience for such activists (and may be offended to have that entitlement snubbed).

            In fact, such events may be more powerful for mobilizing and educating the working or otherwise disenfranchised poor and struggling classes, to keep themselves and what resources they may have out of the hands of the reckless and ruthless banksters.

            I don’t use credit cards, but had become accustomed to using debit cards for routines store purchases. Last week, I withdrew cash from my credit union, and did all my retail shopping in cash.

            This minor intervention radically changed my entire consumer experience. I also noticed the price of gas is 25c higher here if you don’t pay with cash.

            When is the last time you visited a 99 cent store? Take a browse through the toy section, and watch working poor parents cater to their children’s desires. Listen to how people speak. When you have graduated from that, perhaps take a visit to India and Africa, and see how the majority of our brothers and sisters live on this planet.

            Unity for economic justice without uniformity.

    2. Ms G

      As to what Goldman Sachs may or may not think about this vibrant and active group of US citizens, Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give a Damn.

      The train has left the station and it will be tooting and chugging despite and notwithstanding Goldman Sachs (unless and until, of course, GS commandeers the local militarized police of Tampa as they are able to do in New York City).

  3. Warren Celli

    Great post!

    Nathan — thank you for your service to humanity. I can not say enough about how much I admire the spirit of the people that give of themselves for Food Not Bombs. Support them or start one.

    Regarding this; “Part of the reason it was also done in Florida in combination with the RNC is because Florida has been really on the cutting edge of coming up with discriminatory laws against the homeless, and I’ve been dealing with that in Fort Lauderdale a lot.”

    Yes, Florida keeps Jim Crow law and selective enforcement alive and well. The cops are, at this point in time, no more than robotic brainwashed goon squads shaped and formed by crap cop TV shows (f##k you Jerry Bruckheimer you corporate butt sucking slug)! There attitudes (cops) about themselves and their ‘profession’ would be comical if they were not so dangerous.

    A big part of the problem in Florida is the residual plantation master mentality ingrained in the local Xtrevilist politicians and moneyed interests, and that tourism as a major economic driver in the state. Tourism is a high community impact industry, rather than having a few factories or businesses in an industrial zone, the entire community becomes the factory floor. As a result the impetus for privatization is enormous and relentless and the homeless are incessantly driven out of sight. The cops, over time, have become hardened, mean spirited bullies. The irony is that the privatization and extreme control required by tourism in a community, that necessitates the Jim Crow laws, is the same force that then creates the homeless in the first place as it denies them opportunity to socialize or make a few dollars in the street. These selectively created and enforced Jim Crow laws that prevent the homeless from asking a fellow human being for a helping hand, and ban street artists and musicians, are patently Unconstitutional. Obtaining legal representation in the scam ‘rule of law’ courts is next to impossible however as many communities, backed by Chamber of Commerce money and insurance, now as policy, appeal decisions just to lengthen litigation and dissuade any do gooders. Its the legal trail of tears. Few homeless, even if they could get representation, would last that long as they are constantly being bullied and shuffled about by the Xtrevilist cops.

    As a strategy; Focus on Florida and put it in the national spotlight for its inhuman transgressions. One of the problems that is now becoming more apparent is that as more and more people become impoverished there is less and less in the way of resources to combat this vile Xtrevilist oppression. That is why a national effort, celebrated nationally, focused on one community is required.

    Pick one community in the state and further focus national efforts incessantly on that one community to eliminate these Jim Crow laws. A one at a time focused strategy is now essential.

    Shun and boycott Florida Tourism, cops and politicians.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. just me


      The irony is that the privatization and extreme control required by tourism in a community, that necessitates the Jim Crow laws, is the same force that then creates the homeless in the first place as it denies them opportunity to socialize or make a few dollars in the street. These selectively created and enforced Jim Crow laws that prevent the homeless from asking a fellow human being for a helping hand, and ban street artists and musicians, are patently Unconstitutional.

      I’m thinking that the “extreme control required…in a community” is more likely to be found in your typical home owners association’s mindless rules. “You must look exactly like the house next to you.” “You must not Deviate.” “You must not Change.” “You must not Grow anything but Required Lawn.” I know of someone who had to put a drain dish under a plastic flower pot plant on her porch because it was an HOA rule she got fined if she broke.

      Which leads me to my sense of how politics actually works — Authoritarians are the ones drawn to seek office, so even if they say they’re a Democrat, they’re really fine with Authoritarian. Corporations usurp government via things like HOAs, and where I’m at anyway, in Southern California, if you wanted to buy a government-assisted Affordable House Program house, it was only available in an HOA. No such thing as a free-range public-spirited Affordable House. Works for the government, they don’t have to provide services; works for the HOAs, they get the “taxes” directly, with no lip from the taxed. It’s kind of like vote trapping — I think those “affordable house program” mortgages were the first to fail here, so nice job of kettling and eating out of the poor by Republicans–er, I mean authoritarians/corporatists. I’d love to see a study.

      Meanwhile, what I wouldn’t give to take a vacation someplace where there’s color and street music and polka dot houses.

  4. Norman

    One wonders what the person who posted the 2nd comment will say when he/she is thrown under the bus?

  5. LucyLulu

    I’d like to add my appreciation to Nathan and all the members of Food for Bombs, Occupiers, and other similar groups weathering Tampa in August without AC, much less a storm, this coming week. That’s true dedication.

    I’ve heard reported that the feds have been alerted that “anarchist” groups will be in Tampa and may become violent. Does anybody know if there is any truth or if this is propaganda to justify oppressive security measures?

    One of my friends recently became an Occupy convert after listening to a show on NPR with Suze Orman of all people. There was somebody else too but I don’t recall the name. I’m trying to talk her into coming to Charlotte with me. If I want to help with food, I suppose I should contact a NC Food for Bombs?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      As far as violence, I looked at the mainstream stories that came out in a couple of Campaign Countdowns. Both stories I looked like Stasi-manufactured pre-justifications for a crackdown, to me. They seem confused about the relationships between various groups and factions. There are physical objects that look like plants. And most obvious to me, at least, is that the language of one of their putative videos rings completely false. It reads like a not-very-bright intern in some Beltway “security” firm put it together.

      * * *

      That said, there’s no question that some (not all) anarchists are violence advocates, that’s what black bloc is all about, after all. There’s also no question that anonymous violence advocacy is a vector for infiltration by agent provocateurs.

      But all I know is what I read in the papers, and everything I read in the papers looks like a crude fake to me.

  6. Jill

    This is one his most essential points: “You know, one thing we’ve been trying to help is that at big events like this the message of regular people really gets drowned out and of problems that are happening outside of partisan political debates…”

    This is what we need to concentrate on when speaking with each other and taking action. Partisan politics are an impedement to solving problems. You can’t beg people who wall themselves up at conventions and in “the beast” (Obama’s heavily armed presidential vehical) to make things better. They show by their very actions that they do not give a shit. They don’t want to know and they have no intention of helping anyone outside their walls.

    It therefore lies to us to care about each other. Sharing is ridiculed in our society, for a reason. It’s a very dangerous idea. The idea that we can share things starts to make a whole lot of consumer culture unncessary. It starts to form alliances between people and prevents “strategic hate management” from being effective. It can even make irrelevant, the political, media class and their minions.

    The answers do not lie behind walls but between people.

    1. just me

      What I wouldn’t give to see what Obama’s response would be to a street begger! Debate question? Ask all the candidates. Because with all power being concentrated in the Executive now, basically that’s what’s left for us the peeps to do, beg. Maybe.

    2. Ms G

      Yes, +1000. Horizontal mutual aid and assistance amongst the 99% is the 1%’s nightmare. Lambert’s posts about Tampa and the Andalusian farmers are welcome and inspiring sparks for the 99%.

    3. Ms G

      Based on Mr. Obama’s recent utterances about the unemployed, he would probably tell the beggar that if he tries hard enough he’ll find a job to pay the bills. (Hmm, I hear that community organizing with Real Estate Reverends in Illnois can be pretty lucrative.)

      At least Clinton used to fake compassion with his cringy “I feel your pain” shtick. With Obama even that pretension of noblesse oblige is G-o-n-e.

      1. Ms G

        Oh, and here’s the other thing Obama would say to the beggar:

        “What do you want ME to do about it?”

  7. Susan the other

    When you finally admit to yourself that our “leaders” don’t know their butts from hot rocks and certainly don’t know how to lead anybody through the wilderness, you can’t be part of their nonsense ever again. It really is over.

  8. SubjectivObject

    I think there is sufficient critical mass to start the “Outside” Party. Outside the blue and red parties. The orange party, ya think?

    Formally establish the Party, and all/most the constraints against public assembly will be that much harder to execute. Keep it basic, keep is raw. The Ouside Party asserts the nonviolent method.

    The Status Quo will use every trick in the book to neuter the effort, but that simply is the condition of the environment in which survival in freedom must be won. No one can expect to be saved from having to learn and struggle, it is too late in the game, and too much has gone on uncontested by 99%; it is time to accept responsibility.

    Challenge EVERTHING about the Status Quo. Wage the War Of Attrition (WOA!) against the Status Quo.

    1. just me

      I remember! Hugs everyone

      Excite the
      Glade, in my
      Heart how
      I do
      Jump like the
      Listening to the
      Music so
      Rests the
      Under the
      Vine tree at the
      Waterside and
      X marks the place ‘neath the
      Yellow moon where the
      Zulu chief and I did hide.

      ((Kermit and Ladysmith Black Mambazo))((everyone))

  9. nathan patches pim

    hey everyone, thank you to stephen & co for posting this. i have felt for a long time that naked capitalism is perhaps one of the best sites on the web to communicate the dangers of the finance capital state and i am sure glad to have something really valuable to contribute.
    we have had a few interesting events so far including the 1st big march in st pete and i also participated in a banner drop of scott walker speaking at the ridiculously vapid “faith and freedom rally” (thanks ralph reed!). i’m holding the camera here:
    the weather has been mild, and i think anyone cancelling has made a big mistake. we’re looking at one, maybe two windy days. bring a poncho ’cause spirits are high here. i will try to answer questions on this thread.
    what few claims of violence i have heard have been from phony anonymous accounts. the police today alone were overwhelming, carrying assault rifles, riding horses, hovering in helicopters. what is a brick supposed to solve that?
    i am not going to charlotte. i will try to find someone from FNB who is for certain coming. i am not entirely certain there IS a charlotte FNB that is hosting.

    1. nathan patches pim

      here’s another video i took that shows how extensive the policing in tampa is. police are basically guarding homeless people in areas they are still congregating in the downtown area. there’s walked, mounted, and bike patrols everywhere you walk, every block you will see police. cops behind barricades are also packing assault rifles. oddly there are still people walking around pretending like there’s not frightening armed men watching and following everything everyone does…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Nathan, I added a link to this video to the campaign countdown appearing tomorrow. You’ve got my mail, send anything you feel appropriate.

        Adding, feel free to put me in touch with FNB Charlotte, and maybe we can do the same thing there as well.

  10. bhikshuni

    Keep up the good work.

    Maybe call in reports to Sam Seder’s Majority Report live internet radio broadcasts M-F 12 Noon EST: 646-257-3920.

    Also let us know if their is a donate site for grassroots activists like we had for ONYC etc last year!

  11. Marketing & Advertising Solution

    Hmm it seems like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any suggestions for first-time blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

Comments are closed.