America's Dirty Little Secret
Domestic Surveillance and Covert Disruption of Dissent.


San Francisco Food Not Bombs started in February 1988 recovering food from several natural food groceries, produce warehouses and bakeries that were delivered to the main soup kitchens in town. The first action was to provide meals for ten days in protest to nuclear testing at a temporary camp near Mercury, Nevada. Several volunteers from Boston Food Not Bombs flew out to help prepare and serve the meals at the protest. Another small group from Long Beach California calling themselves Bread Not Bombs also showed to the anti-nuclear protest. excited to meet Food Not Bombs they agreed to change their name to Food Not Bombs. By April 1988 there were three chapters of Food Not Bombs with total of no more then 30 volunteers. After the Reclaim the Test Site protest the Food Not Bombs volunteers returned home to provide their weekly meals and share literature about peace and social justice issues. San Francisco Food Not Bombs started to share meals at the corner of Haight and Stannyan at the entrance to Golden Gate Park. The director of the Haight Ashbury Soup Kitchen stopped by the meal and suggested Food Not Bombs could obtain a permit from the Recreation and Parks Department. Food Not Bombs gave the department a letter requesting a permit on July 11, 1988. Soon after giving the letter to the parks commission the police started to stop by the meal to ask if we had our permit. Food Not Bombs would visit the commissions office each week to see about the permit but the staff had no information. On Monday, August 15, 1988 a squad of 45 riot police emerged from Golden Gate Park and arrested nine volunteers for sharing food without a permit. The police told the San Francisco Chronicle that they would be making the arrests and a reporter and photographer arrived to cover the story. The article came out the next morning with a large photo of riot police guarding the food from the hungry. Police arrested 29 people the next week and on the third Monday the San Francisco Police Spokesperson Jerry Senkier told the media that they didn"t have a problem with Food Not Bombs feeding the hungry. "There has to be some kind of (police) action. At this point it seems to be a political statement on their part not a food give away issue." That same week Mayor Art Agnos told the media that “They [Food Not Bombs] feel they can manipulate the homeless issue to set the stage for some kind of radical new social order.” The police made 54 arrests on Labor Day. Members of mayor"s staff eagerly reached out to Food Not Bombs to end the crisis and issued the group a permit after two days of meeting. The Monday after the settlement with the mayor the head of the Recreation and Parks Department Mary Burns insisted that the permit required Food Not Bombs to set up in an area surrounded by tall bushes where the meal and literature would be hidden from public view.

The first arrests inspired people to start Food Not Bombs chapters in New York City, Washington D.C. and Victoria B.C. The San Francisco group also added meals on Tuesday and Wednesday near Civic Center Plaza.

My home phone was wiretapped a couple of weeks after the police stopped arresting Food Not Bombs at Golden Gate Park. We had a permit and should have been viewed as being a legally operating organization. When we discovered that the police were listening to my phone we sued to get a copy of the warrant. The govenment failed to proved a warrant so it must be assumed they tapped my phone without benefit of a court order. This provides evidence that the government's warrantless spying didn't start started after the 9/11 attacks. I first learned that the police were wiretapping my phone in a memo dated September 27, 1988 .

An internal police memo you can read here by Police Captian Richard Holder claims, "During my investigation, I was able to obtain the private phone number of "Food Not Bombs" organizer, Keith McHenry, who unknowingly was a great asset to this investigation." How it was that I "was a great asset" to their investigation was and still is unclear to me. The memo reviews a phone conversation between Food Not Bombs co-founders C.T. Lawrence Butler and myslelf. We were both excited because for the first time in the history of Food Not Bombswe would be sharing food at protests in three cities on the same day.

Officer Holder got Mr. McHenry's home phone number from an informant who overheard him giving it to Starhawk after a meeting in Berkeley, California. Food Not Bombs never planned "to blockade all the entrances to the Presidio" and they didn't plan "to hold a meeting in the Page Street Public Library at 19:30 hours on 10/04/88 to discuss demonstration strategy and strategy for the upcoming permit hearing on October 20, 1988," as the memo claimed. In fact, the volunteers were simply invited to speak at the regular monthly meeting of the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council - where they planned to talk about organizing neighborhood support at a public hearing about sharing food and literature at the entrance to Golden Gate Park. Why they needed to send an undercover cop to this meeting is unclear.

The local police captain attended the meeting every month and his report was generally on the agenda of the City Council meeting. (The entire memo can be found below). During almost ten years of civil and criminal cases about the events in this memo no warrant was ever provided. A videotape of the protests clearly shows a San Francisco Police officer dressed similarly to myself throwing a barricade at a line of riot police. It goes on to show the undercover cop pointing out people he felt should be arrested to uniformed officers The activists appeared upset with the undercover officer for pointing out the "leaders" to be arrested.

At the end of the tape, you can see six riot police throwing Keith McHenry to the ground and lifting him by his arms and legs. This act of violence literally ripped his tendons and ligaments, leaving him to this day in constant agony. In a trial about this event, the police expert referred to this act of police violence as a "cross chest takedown." For Mr. McHenry, it was the beginning of a series of similar police assaults that have contributed to his living in daily chronic severe pain that requires extensive medical assistance.


San Francisco Police Department
To: Deputy Chief Frank Reed
Patrol Bureau
From: Acting Captain Richard Holder
Commanding Officer, Park Station
Date: Tuesday, 09/27/88
Subj:"Food Not Bombs"
ISSUE: Activity update.


A. As per your request, I have conducted an investigation regarding the planned activity of the "Food Not Bombs" organization on October 15, 1988 at the Presidio. During my investigation, I was able to obtain the private phone number of "Food Not Bombs" organizer, Keith McHenry, who unknowingly was a great asset to this investigation.

B. "Food Not Bombs" current, and planned activity.

1. As part of a nationwide anti-war protest scheduled for October 15, 1988, "Food Not Bombs", plans to blockade all the entrances to the Presidio to support similar activity at the Pentagon and other military organizations. The goal is to shut down the Presidio all day by blocking and feeding demonstrators at the gates to the post. "Food Not Bombs" anticipates that this demonstration will draw more participants, 3000, than the last major demonstration at the Presidio on 03/26/88.

2. "Food Not Bombs" plans to hold a meeting in the Page Street Public Library at 1930 hours on 10/04/88 to discuss demonstration strategy and strategy for the upcoming permit hearing on October 20, 1988.
Deputy Chief Frank Reed
Patrol Bureau

Page 2
Subject: "Food Not Bombs"

3. In an effort to boost its strength "Food Not Bombs" has join forces with the Circle "A" Cluster group, the "Nuremberg Action" group, and the Walnut Creek Peace Center.

4. The founder of "Food Not Bombs", Lawrence Butler a.k.a. "CT" has flown in from the east coast to assist in the planning.


The currant activity of "Food Not Bombs" indicates that the group plans yet another confrontation with the police. The three groups now in alliance with "Food Not Bombs" are all involved in the Concord Naval Weapons Depot demonstrations, are all advocates of civil disobedience tactics, and non-cooperation with law enforcement agencies.


A. That liaison be developed between the San Francisco Police Department Intelligence Unit, and Sgt. Ovid Holmes of the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department Intelligence Unit. Sgt. Ovid has worked the three anti-war groups now in alliance with "Food Not Bombs".

B. That the Intelligence Unit monitor the October 4th meeting scheduled by "Food Not Bombs". attachments:

The "liaison (be) developed between the San Francisco Police Department Intelligence Unit, and Sgt. Ovid Holmes of the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department Intelligence Unit."

Food Not Bombs arrived at the Richardson Gate of the Presidio of San Francisco on October 15, 1988 with rice, fruit salad, a vegetable stew and bagels. While we shared meals hundreds of other protesters set up a symbolic El Salvadorian village in the road leading to the Golden Gate Bridge to protest the war on the people of Central America. The Blue Angels preformed acrobatics over the San Francisco Bay in celebration of Columbus as riot police arrested the peace activists. One activist brought a video camera and filmed the protest. At one point she captured footage of a man throwing a section of the police barricades at a line of riot police. She also filmed that same man walking through the remaining crowed pointing out the leaders to officers that would handcuff them and lead them to a police van. The crowd starts to yell at the plain clothes officer but the camera swings away from that confrontation to film several riot police smashing me to the pavement pulling me to the street by my neck. A review of the film shows that the officer tossing the police barricade is dressed just like me. Of course I was charged with throwing the barricade at the police.

It soon became clear that the police had three shifts of officers that grew their hair like me and owned a duplication of my waredrobe. At strategic times an officer dressed like me would commit a crime a block or two from where I would be walking. I would be arrested for the officers crime and held for a few days. Police reports would always include a description of what I was wharing matching the clothing of the officer.

I would also be arrested for driving on a suspended drivers lisence always at the most inconvenuent time. Once released I would go to the department of motor vehicles where I would be told that my lisence was not suspended. When I went to register my truck I would always discover I had hundreds of dollars in unpaid parking tickets that I was not aware I had been issued. I would work off my fines, obtain the abstract showing I was able to register my truck from Parking and Traffic yet some how I would be issued several hundred dollars in new parking tickets while driving to the Department of Motor Vehicles. I repeated this pattern a couple of times before I could register the truck I used to transport food. This pattern also happened year after year.

I finally discovered how this was happening when the case of Roy Bullock and Tom Gerard was made public. Dan Evans of The San Francisco Examiner wrote an article printed on April 1, 2002 on "on the hidden workings of the Anti-Defamation League and how three Bay Area activists were able to uncover a spy operation that reached into the San Francisco Police Department." Mr. Evens goes on to say that "The files included Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, addresses, phone numbers and group memberships. Some of the information was sold to foreign governments, including Israeli and South African intelligence groups." The list of files included two entries about Food Not Bombs and myself under the heading "Pinko." San Francisco Police officer Tom Gerard worked in the departments intelligence division and provided information to Roy Bullock of the ADL. During the investigation into allegations of this spy operation the police entered Tom Gerard's locker at his office and discovered photos and documents showing that Gerard had worked for the CIA in El Salvador. Some of the photos show Tom Gerard standing next to a line of men sitting on chairs with black bags over their heads. I received over 700 pages of this investigation, which included these pictures and documents. Evans goes on, "By his own admission, Bullock had been working off the books as a fact-finder for the ADL since the mid-1960's. He would infiltrate not only openly anti-Semitic groups, but also pro-Palestinian and anti-apartheid organizations, usually under false pretenses. Bullock, who is not Jewish, would then pass that information along to the ADL."

The article goes on, "He received information about his targets from former San Francisco Police Inspector Tom Gerard, who fled to the Philippines after being indicted in 1994 for illegal use of a police computer. Gerard's current whereabouts are unknown." Evans' story continues, "On April 8, 1993, armed with this information, police in San Francisco and Los Angeles searched the ADL offices in those two cities. In San Francisco, roughly 10 banker's boxes of information -- 75 percent of which officers said was illegally obtained -- were seized."

"A majority of data in those boxes confirmed police suspicions that it had come from Bullock's computer. On that computer was information on 9,876 people, including 1,394 driver's licenses. The files were divided into five categories: "Pinko," "Right," " Arabs," "Skins," and "ANC," the last standing for African National Congress."

Tom Gerard was singled out as the one bad officer in the department yet he was clearly hired to disrupt activists in San Francisco.

Fear of a U.S. attack on Iraq had been building. The first President Bush threatened to start the assault on Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, January 16, 1991. Activists all over the country planned major protests that evening if he made good his promises. We had prepared lots of food and planned to share it with the protesters outside the Chevron World Headquarters on Market Street. I stopped by a friend's apartment at 24th Avenue and Treat in the Mission District to listen to the news to see if he would order the attack and after listening for half an hour NPR reported that America was bombing Bagdad. My friend and I rushed out to my truck to deliver the food but all four of the truck's tires were flat. Food Not Bombs had an old bread truck parked a couple of blocks away so I ran over to get it but the cables to the distributor cap were cut. After about an hour we finally found a workable vehicle to transport the food.

That same year New Society Publishers asked us to write a book about the idea behind Food Not Bombs and how one would start a group. My first book Food Not Bombs How to Feed The Hungry and Build Community was published in time for our first Food Not Bombs gathering held in San Francisco on October 10 -12, 1992. A local Food Not Bombs volunteer offered to help build a website for Food Not Bombs and upload the text of the book on to the site. I gave him a copy of the computer file of the book to upload. I was very impressed by the design and was encouraged that people all over the world would have access. Author Sandor Ellix Katz sent me an email in 2005 seeking permission to use a section of the book in his new project " The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements." I was interested to see what he planned to use and asked him to email me the section. I was shocked. I would have never used many of the terms included in the text he sent and it conveyed a more conservative message then I would have intended. I asked him were he found the text and he told me he took it directly from our website. I compared each paragraph in the hard copy of my book and the version on line and it turned out that each paragraph had been carefully rewritten to provide a more conservative message. Many of the nouns were changed to be insulting to people of color or other communities. It had been cleverly organized so it appeared at first glance to be the same book I had provided as a computer file to the volunteer. That same man also took a number of other actions that should have tipped us off to the fact that he may not have had the best interest of Food Not Bombs in mind. One of the most devastating might have been the yelling of racists insults at several African American police officer just as our legal observer Van Jones arrived to support us. Even though we tried to silence the racist remarks it was too late. Van Jones not only stopped volunteering he told people that some of the activists working with Food Not Bombs were racist.

Racism was used in another devastating way. We had an African American volunteer who was always eager to help by driving our van to the cook house to collect the prepared meals. The cooks would wait growing nervous that they would be late with the food. At the same time volunteers would be standing at Civic Center Plaza trying to maintain calm as the hungry grew restless waiting for dinner. Unfortunately the food would not arrive. Our volunteer driver would park our vehicle in someones driveway on the way to pick up the food and of course it would be towed. No other volunteers had this problem but some how our African American drive had a very difficult time finding it in himself to park legally. We suggested that he not be given the responsibility of driving the van after the fifth or sixth time he lost one of our vehicles but this was blocked. He also had a problem of driving over the Bay Bridge on the way from the Haight Ashbury to City Hall often being three or four hours late. The food would be cold and most of the people who came to eat had left. Any attempt to keep him from driving was met with accusations of racism. Any suggestion that we would never let a white person cause so much chaos was also attacked as being racist. The group was growing frustrated as volunteers quit discouraged that their meals were not making it to the hungry. Then one day when several of us had to appear in court we happened to see our volunteer on the witness stand in an adjacent court room. He testified he was a confidential informant working for the San Francisco Police. Even though he was not testifying in a Food Not Bombs case it was clear we were another target of his employment. He never returned to to help finally solving our problem. We didn't lose another van.

In early 1994 I was framed on several violent and serious felonies and faced 25 to life in prison. While in jail waiting for trial and hoping for bail a couple of volunteers meet with the police and agreed to reduce our schedule from twice a day seven days a week to three times a week and move our location from United Nations Plaza to a construction site a few blocks from City Hall. Fortunately the rest of the group rejected the plan. I was finally bailed out and after a number of false starts I found a judge willing to agree to a very good plea bargain. I still worried that my probation might be violated and started to go on tour to stay away from the grip of the San Francisco Police.

I helped share meals with Fort Worth Food Not Bombs on the day I was to speak at a local club. One of the organizers announced that Keith McHenry would be speaking at the Garage and everyone was invited. One of the men that came to eat turned to me and said " I know that guy Keith McHenry. The reason Food Not Bombs only serves vegetain food is because McHenry takes the meat and sells it. He used the money to buy a mansion in Marin California." I had been told this a couple times before I faced life in prison but always when I was in San Francsico so hearing this rumor in Texas was quite a shock. People still tell me that I have a mansion in Marin. One of the men that negotiated to move the San Francisco Food Not Bombs meal out of sight was so frustrated that I wouldn't support his effort he started to tell anyone that would listen including people with video cameras that I stold $27,000 of the $25,000 that Green Day had donated to San Francisco Food Not Bombs. This has also been an effective smear making it difficult to raise money for things like providing food to the survivors of Katrina. You will even hear I am getting rich selling copies of the book Hungry For Peace or that I am stashing away millions of dollars from speakers fees. Unfortunatly I have had to live on the streets and feel I have to donate even what little money I make from graphic design to Food Not Bombs to help discourage the rumors. We hired an accountant at one point but we had to pay her all the money we raised because the office I volunteer with had so little money it wasn't worth counting so she agreed to quit.

One day in 1997 I picked up the phone in my bed room on Spruce Street in San Francisco and dialed a number returning a call from someone interested in helping Food Not Bombs. Instead of ringing at the supporters phone there was a recording. "Please deposit 35 cents." It didn't seem right. I had paid the bill for this phone every month since 1987. I dialed again and again a recording asked me to deposit 35 cents. I found a copy of the Yellow Pages located the number to Pac Bell and dialed their number for phone repair. Again I was asked to deposit 35 cents. Next to the number I just dialed was a listing for 611 phone repair. I dialed that and a nice woman answered. I told her that I was being asked to pay 35 cents even though I was using a personal phone in my bed room. She tested the line and reported that I was indeed calling from a pay phone. I explained that I paid a bill for the phone. She insisted that my phone was a pay phone. I went off to work but when I returned home I tried again and still it asked me to deposit 35 cents. The next morning I tried again and still no luck. I called 611 and they assured me I was calling from a pay phone. Remember regular people like me didn't have cell phones in 1997 so I had to use my roommates phone to call any number other then 611. Not one person at Pac Bell could help. One office agreed I had paid a monthly bill for nearly ten years but they also were very certain I was calling from a pay phone. Day after day passed always started with an effort to dial my phone. Each evening I tried again and borrowed my roommates phone to seek help from the phone company. After several weeks I decided to call the new Chief of Police Fred Lau. He and I had a good relationship. As a captain he was one of the few officers that refused to arrest us for sharing food. I also attended the funeral of one of his best friends Police Commander Isaiah Nelson. Soon after he became Chief, Mr. Lau invited me to call him any time I had a problem with the department so frustrated I gave it a try. I borrowed my roommates phone again and dialed the Chief. To my surprise his assistant put me through. "Thanks for taking my call. I know that the police don't ever wiretap phones but for some reason my home phone has become a pay phone. Would you be able to help?" He told me he would look into it. Thirty minutes after I hung up with the Chief a white utility van arrived outside my apartment. The van had California plates but no other identification. a workman in civilian clothing climbed out, took a ladder off a roof rack and set it up against the telephone pole outside my place. Once he reached the top the garage door rose at the house across Spruce Street from my home. Two men were sitting at two six foot folding tables. They both sat facing my apartment typing on computers. They also wore large head phones that were plugged into their computers. The man to my left would look up from his computer and raise his finger to the man on the ladder who would return and do something to a box where the phone lines passed through high on the pole. This happened a couple of times then the man on the ladder gave the two men in the garage a thumbs up. The guys on the computers waved back and the garage door rattled close the two men never once getting up from their seats. I rushed into my room picked up my phone and dialed the Chief. This time the recording was gone. I thanked him and never again had trouble making calls.

Soon after I resolved the pay phone crisis I headed out on the UnFree Trade Tour with a Food Not Bombs volunteer named Seth and three anti-globilzation activists from Spain. A few weeks before the tour was to start we lost our translator and her school bus so we had to scramble to rent a van and find people that could speak both Spanish and English. We also discoved 30 days before the first event in San Francisco that the three Europeans would be landing at LAX in Los Angeles. Even with these obsticles we made it to the first presentations in the San Francsco Bay Area which were well attended. After the Bay Area events we drove north speaking in Northern California Oregon, and Washington. When we arreved at the Cnandian border on October 12, 1997 I was ordered out of the van and directed to a back room by the Candaian authorities. They asked me about what had happend on April 19, 1993 and so on. They had a huge stack of papers they would look through as they asked each question. I told them that they were probably the the dates when I was arrested for sharing food. I asked for permission to get a copy of my book and they walked me out to the van where I showed them a copy pointing out photos of our having been arrested for feeding the hungry. After a while they became amused and let us go.

After a few more stops Seth pointed out that each evening something odd would happen. One night a 11:30 PM an insurance agent came to measure the ceilings of the apartment where Food Not Bombs lived. There were midnight UPS deliveries to unknown people. I agreed to help one of the Spanards to email home. This required a process called telnet and was always very difficult to organize. I was setting up his email at the University of Toronoto when the Spanish activist arrived very upset. He claimed all his money had been stolen out of the van and needed the key to get in. We rushed back to the vehicle and unlocked it. It seemed that nothing was out of place but he unpacked the back came to his suitcase opened it up and took out another bag opened it and inside was a wallet. He held it up and in Spainish explained all the money had been taken. That evening we spoke to a packed house of over 200 people. Just before the presenation two Toronto Police asked if I was Keith McHenry. It was clear they knew who I was so I said yes and asked if I could help thinking maybe they had found our friends money or something but instead they asked me what we planned to talk about. We started to hear that our Spainsh friend was emailing a daily log to a woman in New York City that would translate his message and forward it to a number of email lists. Each Food Not Bombs group would report that they had recieved news that we had not eaten in days so they would make us a huge feast. Then the next night we would be greeted by another group of Food Not Bombs activists once again concerned that we hadn't eaten in days. They would also have a huge amount of food carefully prepared wanting to be good hosts. They would also give us bags of food to take on the drive to the next venue. Even though we had too much to eat the emails continued to report that we were going hungry. The emails were also claiming I was responsible for failing to provide food to our tour members making very ugly accusations. Back in San Francisco one of the volunteers that helped organize the tour was growing more and more angry that I was being so disrespectful to our Spainsh guests based on this daily report. Once the tour eneded the San Francisco activists proposed I be kicked out of Food Not Bombs. Each week he would request that an agenda item about my being banned from the movemnet would discuss the proposal. By this time I wasn't in San Francisco making it difficult to respond to the issue.

I went to the founding conference of the Peoples Global Agenda in Geneva, Switzerland. Between meetings I joined the other Food Not Bombs activists in staffing our literature table. One day several activist from Spain asked me to attend a meeting at their hotel. I arrived that evening. They asked me to sit at the head of a room off the lobby. About 30 people from Spaing sat before me. One of the men introduced me to the group and then said they had seen some news clips with photos of a man from Spain in my scrap book. How did I know this man they asked. I told them I went on a tour with me but we didn't get along. They asked why I had not done a back ground check on him. He was Spains most natorius Inter Pol Agent. One by one they share stories about his work to disrupt the anti-globalization and environmental movements. One woman reported that her best friend was so distrurbed working with him that she placed herself in a mental hospital. They told me he was the informant in El Grupo that tipped off the police to their work in ETA. Two of the three Americans involved in the UnFree Trade Tour have disappeared.

We stopped in at the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee in Lawrence, Kansas at a time when the staff person was closing the office down. The phone was about to be shut off, there was an eviction notice on the office door and the staff person was loading all his paintings into her car. Leonard Peltier is a well loved political prisoner doing two life sentences for his participation in defending the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975. I spoke to Leonard and told him the news. He was in a panic and asked me to save his defense committee. I stayed until some of my friends could replace me. I returned to San Francisco picked up some of my belongings and arraigned to have my partner cover my business obligations while I went to Kansas to reorganize Leonard's office.

A few months after I moved to Lawrence, Kansas the man that I would later learn had sabotaged the web version of my book and had negotiated with the city to reduce our meals to three times a week found another effective way to destroy Food Not Bombs. He discarded the group's banners and literature. He also waged an email campaign on the Food Not Bombs list serv claiming that we would be more effective if we focused only on the food and stopped setting out literature. Before long San Francisco Food Not Bombs was finding it difficult to provide meals seven days a week twice a day as we had been doing for the past five years. Six months after I left San Francisco Food Not Bombs had moved its meal time from Noon and 5:00 PM seven days a week to 7:00 PM three nights a week. We stopped providing food to several hundred people twice a day to sharing meals with 20 or 30 people three times a week. Instead of feeding more people the strategy reduced the number of people we helped from four or five thousand a week to less then a hundred a week.

People would call me to find out where San Francisco Food Not Bombs was sharing its meals claiming they had gone to the location listed on the website but found that it was a church group that was providing food at that time and location. I was not able to return to San Francisco when the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee closed so I became active in the Kansas City Food Not Bombs group then moved to Tucson and helped there.

A journalist from Australia emailed me to say she was making a film about Food Not Bombs and wanted to visit America. Of course she wanted to film San Francisco Food Not Bombs since it was so prominent having been arrested over 1,000 times. When we arrived two volunteers were struggling to prepare two plastic buckets of soup. We joined them down at United Nations Plaza where they ladled out their soup to the handful of hungry people that had arrived for dinner. Several young people handed out flyers inviting those eating to attend their church service. Since the meal started at 7:00 PM very few people walked by. There was no banner or literature to inform the public that the meal was associated with Food Not Bombs. When the volunteers were asked why they didn't bring a banner of flyers that explained it was too difficult to do that and bring food too. I suggested they would have many more volunteers if people knew who they were and could contact them. I suggested they move the meal to 5:00 PM when thousands of people would walk past. The film maker was not impressed. How could these two buckets of soup be such a threat that the government would spend tens of thousands maybe even millions of dollars to stop it.

One volunteer Susie Cagle produced a graphic novel Nine Gallons that accurately showed San Francisco Food Not Bombs during this era. I spoke with her after I read Nine Gallons. She had never visited any other Food Not Bombs group and also knew that the San Francisco chapter was famous because of the arrests but had no idea that the project she worked with was not the Food Not Bombs that had been active for two decades before infiltrators discarded the banner and literature and moved the meal time to 7:00 PM. It turned out the authorities had not only been successful at making San Francisco completely ineffective and invisible by targeting the best know chapter they were able to have a negative impact on other chapters. People would visit San Francisco Food Not Bombs and reproduce the idea they had seen. Two buckets of soup and no banner or literature. Chapter after chapter became nothing more then a charity. The goal of organizing to change society so no one would have to stand in line to seek a meal at a soup kitchen was eliminated. At the same time this vision of Food Not Bombs as charity was reflected in our Wikipedia entry. All attempts to correct the Food Not Bombs entry in Wikipedia have failed. As soon as an accurate description of Food Not Bombs is posted it is removed by the authorities and replaced with the governments idea of who they want us to be.

When the government discovers a Food Not Bombs group is political, displays a banner and sets out literature they will send someone to suggest that the volunteers could feed more people if they change the name to Feed Boulder or Feed Milwaukee. In each case where the volunteers adopt this suggestion the group stops sharing meals after a couple of weeks.

Once we realized at the government was sabotaging Food Not Bombs by encouraging volunteer to believe that banners and literature were not important we have worked hard to remind all Food Not Bombs volunteers that we are only effective if we are sharing our message and inviting the public to join us in organizing for social change. When groups start to display a banner and set out literature they find that they attract more volunteers and food donations and provide more food to more people. Your group isn't a Food Not Bombs group if is doesn't have literature and a banner at every meal.


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