Two more activists affiliated with the group Orlando Food Not Bombs (OFNB) were arrested yesterday at Lake Eola Park, bringing the toll of those arrested for holding unpermitted food sharings at the park to 27 since June 1.
Though the arrests have occurred with an almost tedious regularity, yesterday marked an important shift in the city’s approach. The two individuals arrested, Stephen Mikan, 30, and Chris Murphy, 44, were charged with trespass after warning, a first degree misdemeanor, rather than violating the Large Group Feeding ordinance, a second degree misdemeanor with which the 25 activists before them had been charged. Police were at the scene long before OFNB members arrived, and immediately after Mikan and Murphy began hauling dishware and food into the park, OPD officers—with Parks department officials alongside them—wrote up the trespassing warrants. This was legal, according to officer Rich Ruth, because it was obvious that the two activists “intended” to violate the Large Group Feeding ordinance, which would then be a sound basis for the trespassing warrant.
As a result, Mikan and Murphy were cuffed quickly after the feeding began, rather than plainclothes police waiting to affirm that the group fed 25 individuals (as had been custom for every police-monitored sharing preceding it), before making arrests.
“This is like Minority Report
– they’re going to read people’s minds, and trespass them because they think they’re going to violate the ordinance,” said Shayan Elahi, OFNB’s lawyer, in an interview this morning. “They have psychic prophets there, I guess.”
Elahi guesses that the nature of the arrests vindicates his contention that detaining activists
for violating the Large Group Feeding ordinance is itself in violation of a court order. “It is clearly an admission that what they were doing before was wrong, and they had to change their strategy to cover themselves legally,” Elahi says.
City attorney Mayanne Downs could not be reached for comment.
IN RELATED NEWS...
--On the morning of July 4, OFNB held a food sharing in front of City Hall, per the Mayor’s invitation
. Though the Weekly
didn’t make it that day, WFTV was on the scene
. No arrests were made.
--Cyber-attacks against Orlando websites by the group Anonymous in response to the OFNB arrests gained the attention of the New York Times
on June 30. (Also, see our interview
with group spokesman “Commander X” on June 21.) In addition, the Orlando Sentinel
reported yesterday that police are investigating after a Guy Fawkes mask—the trademark disguise of Anonymous members best known for its appearance in the movie V for Vendetta
—was recently left outside Buddy Dyer’s home in College Park. (See photo below.) For updates on Anonymous’ internet warfare against the city of Orlando, see the campaign’s official Twitter feed
--Meanwhile, the group has launched LocalLeaks
, a website which we assume aims to have the same effect on local politics that Wikileaks had on international politics.