Monday, December 6, 2010

Food Not Bombs Gather To Commemorate Struggle

Over the course of the infamous Food Not Bombs struggle, there were threats, and accusations.  There were summons issued, and food confiscated.  There were sermons, and in the end there was a law changed, a lawsuit and a settlement.

Sunday evening, members of Food Not Bombs Middletown, invited friends and the community to join them in a meal at the Buttonwood Tree to commemorate the end of a sustained struggle to maintain the right to share food with people in need.

"I'm happy to be here because the food is good, and the people are great," said Wesleyan senior Abe Bobman who was at the center of the controversy.  "It's great to actually be finished with what we been through and we made it work."

Bobman was arrested during one of the regular Sunday lunchtime meals held at the corner of Main and Liberty Streets.  He and other members of Food Not Bombs had been told that they could not serve meals that had not been prepared in licensed kitchens.  The law was challenged by Food Not Bombs and in the end, with the assistance of State Senator Paul Doyle and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a state law was changed allowing meals like those served by Food Not Bombs, to be shared.

At the gathering Sunday, there was little in the way of gloating about the $15,000 settlement the City of Middletown was forced to pay to Food Not Bombs as a result of a lawsuit filed on behalf of the organization.

"The goal was just to be able to do what we wanted to do," said Hartford Food Not Bomb advocate Dave Rozza, an ally of the Middletown organization during the legal struggle.

"It's really not unusual for the litigation to go on long after the political struggle is over," said Attorney Peter Goselin, whose law firm represented Food Not Bombs. "We picked a fight over an important issue and we won it.  Our law firm took it on because it was a good fight and an important one."

Goselin said that the settlement is a fraction of what the legal costs would have been if the firm had billed as they would for a normal lawsuit.

"There's no sense of vengence," Rozza said.  "At the end of the day no one was harmed.  And on the other side, the sky never fell.  There weren't people falling down sick in the streets of Middletown."

The food for the Sunday night event was supplied by volunteers and not prepared in a licensed kitchen.


Anonymous said...

congratulations to the folks involved with 'food not bombs' and your ongoing dedication to providing food to our hungry citizens in Middletown.

Meghan Q said...

Thanks for covering this!

Anonymous said...

Recieving 15k from the city of Middletown takes 15k from tax payers and other budgeted charity programs. Way to stick it to the so called man FNB.

Dan said...

I'm so thrilled and proud of Food Not Bombs that you worked it out. I don't volunteer with you as much as I would like to, but I think of you often and you're in my heart <3

Anonymous said...

Where is my comment? I challenge FNB to give back the 15k they took from the city or donate it tithe soup kitchen. Shame on those kids.

fishmuscle (Stephen H. Devoto) said...

To Anonymous @1:53 and 3:06--It was Middletown's Health and Police Departments which cost our city $15,000 when tickets were given to residents who shared food with those in need. The $15k was what the City agreed to pay towards the legal fees that FNB incurred to defend itself against wrongful government prosecution.

I hope you will agree that if our government targets an individual or a group with selective and capricious law enforcement, the least one should expect from the courts is restitution of legal expenses.

Direct your anger and calls for "shame" at those who led our City inexorably and predictably towards the day when the City would have to pay lawyers for its mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Steve: Didn't these folks admit to taking food from dumpsters? Sounds like a good enough reason to get them to comply with regs. Buon Appetite!

Anonymous said...

A brief response to the 3 (?) anonymous commentators:
As the Eye reported on October 8th, Middletown FNB was given $15,000 in compensation for legal fees. Peter Goselin, our generous legal advocate, immediately donated half of that sum to St. Vincent dePaul Place, a decision we supported. Though the $7,500 he kept covered but a small percentage of the amount of time he put into the effort, it will hopefully embolden him to take on similarly important and non-lucrative causes in the future.

Anonymous said...

"The food for the Sunday night event was supplied by volunteers and not prepared in a licensed kitchen."

Oh the sweet irony!


Anonymous said...

greetings and well done! - Food not bombs - Aarhus, denmark!