A History of Activism - Santa Monica and Venice,California

  For many years local activists have lobbied the Santa Monica and the Los Angeles city counsils and the numerous agencies they are associated with. Groups were formed by these activists. "We the People" was one of the groups formed in the early nineties by Ron Taylor and Len Doucette. These people had been unhoused and understood the need for special groups to lobby for the street community.

  Venice/Santa Monica Food not Bombs and the Venice Justice Committee evolved from these groups. Traditional lobbying and Direct Action where used by these activists including demonstrations, abandoned building takeovers and the creation of a newspaper.

  Many human rights activists joined in these actions including the actor Martin Sheen. Len Doucette would lead camp outs on the Santa Monica City Hall Lawn. He also would speak to the Rabbis and was part of the annual Sader in Palisades Park.

  Ron Taylor, with his gifted speaking ability being a professional storyteller, would talk to the Santa Monica City Council and other groups about the problems of being unhoused. Ron ran for public office while he was living on the street and created one of the best documentaries on the street community, called "Taylor's Campaign". This documentary was produced and directed by Richard Cohen, an award winning filmmaker.

  These activists suffered abuse and criminalization while living on the street. Ron Taylor was beaten by the Santa Monica Police Department, having his ribs broken during this encounter. During the Flamingo Hotel take over the organizers of this action where ruffed up by law enforcement. I was followed, ruffed up, arrested on bogus charges, and spent time in the Santa Monica jail.

  The city Attorney at that time was Robert Myers a Member of the National Lawyers Guild. Mr. Myers was very concerned about the people living on the street, he would make peanut butter sandwiches on his desk and give them to hungry people on Saturday on the city hall front lawn. He formed one of these groups, Hand to Hand (Agape Church), that is still serving food to the poor in Santa Monica.

  Robert Myers was brutally fired after twelve years of service to the
city of Santa Monica. The reasons he was fired being that he refused to
write an unconstitutional law that would make it a criminal act to distribute food in the parks and commons in Santa Monica. This unjust law was written by the next city attorney and approved by the Santa Monica City Council. A lawsuit was filled against this unjust law and Mr. Myers struggle was vindicated by a court decision, which overturned Santa Monica's
attempt to starve people out of town.

  Venice/Santa Monica Food Not Bombs was formed in 2001 by two unhoused activists, Calvin E.Moss and David Busch, and was soon after joined by Peggy Lee Kennedy.  The street community and the outdoor food providers came under direct attack again by the City of Santa Monica. Another ordinance was then written that would outlaw anyone who shared food in public space. This unjust law forced the outdoor food providers to form a group that was supported with legal counsel by the National Lawyers Guild and Carol Sobel, then President of the National Lawyers Guild.

  Another lawsuit was filed challenging this unjust law. We also underwent training in non-violent civil disobedience and documentation of police abuse. The Santa Monica Police Dept. would follow and threaten FNB
while sharing food in Palisades Park.

  The five outdoor food providers stood up against the City of Santa Monica and after years of harassment overcame this unconstitutional law, which attempted to cut off the food supplied outdoors to more than 2,500 unhoused people. The ninth circuit decision was in favor of the outdoor food providers this the second lawsuit in ten years.

the story continues
                                                                                                      Calvin E. Moss