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Wet Summer Solstices and Protests

  • Subject: [cg] Wet Summer Solstices and Protests
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 08:35:02 EDT

Friends, 

I saw the author of the earlier posts, Aresh Jahadi, at the heavily rained 
upon 7th Annual Clinton Community Garden/Green Thumb summer solstice celebration 
(couldn't do the incense and rose petal ceremony - the rain was so heavy.)  

A seasoned veteran of the NYC garden wars, Aresh  got soaked with us too - 
gardeners never seem to know when to come in out of the rain.  Having been at 
garden bulldozings with Aresh in the snow and rain, the novel feeling of being 
at a happy event in foul weather seemed par for the course.  As Aresh said, "Of 
course -  they're gardeners!"

Along with about 200 gardeners from all of the city's  Gardens (we usually 
get about 500)  along with representatives from Green Guerillas, NY Restoration, 
New Yorkers for Parks, who stayed, danced in the rain and were happily 
drenched at the event was a marvelous touring group of 51 Philadelphia community 
gardeners let by Paco John Verin of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Last 
Saturday was their day to visit NYC community gardens and like all visiting 
firemen, getting wet was no problem. Great people and committed community 
gardeners. 

Afternoon professional ballgames were washed out in the city, road and bike 
races were cancelled, but our event continued.  Parks Commissioner Benepe 
brought Mayor's Bloomberg's greetings to the gardeners, spoke about a new era for 
the 198 gardens preserved under the Attorney General's agreement, the 
committment of community gardners to a better NYC and, as is now traditional for Parks 
commissioners when faced with a  large numbers of seemingly waterproof 
gardeners read Dr. Seuss inspired poetry on rain to the crowd.  

State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who has also sponsored or co-sponsored 
community garden legislation in the NY State Assembly spoke on grass roots 
people power in a democracy and how gardeners who participate in the political 
process epitomize the exercise of  that grass roots power.  Dick learned very 
early on that "gardeners vote" and we're always very happy to see him.  The State 
Senator and City Councilpersons called earlier and couldn't believe that we 
were going on, despite the rain, but sent their messages which were read from 
the stage ( some politicians are not waterproof). We gave the Parks 
Commissioner, the Assemblyman (and those absent) copies of Debra Landwehr Engle's new 
Rodale book  "Grace from the Garden: Changing the World One Garden At A Time" as 
a polemic party favor. 

 The lockdown at Sacramento's Ron Mandella garden shows just how challenging  
people power can be to large multi-national corporate interests when the 
gardeners are that committed. 
  
For those whose browsers aren't working right or may not be able to access 
the story that Sharon Gondon gave us once the Sacramento Bee puts it in it's web 
archive: 

"First day of conference, second day of protests"

Published 12:06 p.m. PDT Monday, June 23, 2003
Demonstrators dressed as giant ears of corn, butterflies and tomatoes - and 
some not dressed at all - mingled with anarchists, organic farmers and chefs to 
protest the meeting in Sacramento on Monday of more than 100 agriculture 
officials from around the world.
More than 1,500 protesters rallied at the state Capitol then marched through 
downtown as the Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and 
Technology began three days of discussions on genetically engineered crops.

Activists say they fear the gathering is an attempt by corporate farming to 
push bio-engineered crops on starving countries.

Demonstrators carried large puppets, signs such as "Feed the needy, not the 
greedy," and trumpeted urban food programs, veganism and organic farming under 
the scrutiny of hundreds of Sacramento police and California Highway Patrol 
officers.

Eight protesters were arrested by midafternoon Monday by Sacramento police 
and CHP officers. Sacramento Police Sgt. Jim Jarofick said he didn't know what 
charges they would face.

At times, the march seemed to have as many themes as people, ranging from the 
future of farming to the menace of biotechnology to the hazards of junk food.

About two dozen chefs, waiters and other restaurant workers wearing aprons, 
white hats and banging utensils on sauce pans protested the corporate takeover 
of agriculture, said Marc Swan, a San Francisco caterer.

Jasmine Marshall, 16, a member of the San Francisco-based Literacy for 
Environmental Justice, came to gather support for bringing healthy, organic food to 
inner-city neighborhoods.

"We're trying to pass an ordinance requiring corner stores to carry healthy 
food," she said. Currently, she said, stores in her neighborhood carry tobacco 
and liquor, but very little fresh food.

After the planned march, about 20 protesters doffed their clothes and danced 
on the steps of the state Capitol, then began an unauthorized march through 
downtown Sacramento. The naked protesters, and about 50 followers, dispersed 
when the CHP brought in buses and threatened to arrest them.

More than a dozen demonstrators gathered near county and federal buildings 
early Monday, dressed as butterflies and giant vegetables and singing "Old 
Monsanto Had a Farm."

Monday's demonstrations were larger than the day before when hundreds of 
activists paraded down city streets denouncing the conference before it began.

Police in riot gear and on horseback faced off hundreds of demonstrators 
Sunday, arresting 22 on charges of unlawful assembly, vandalism and possessing 
weapons, including a switchblade and other sharp objects, authorities said. 
Another 14 people were arrested late Sunday at a former community garden that is 
slated to become a 118-unit housing development.

Some offices and restaurants downtown closed because of the anticipated 
demonstrations. Others put signs in their windows declaring their businesses 
"corporation free."

Organizer Juliette Beck, the California coordinator for Public Citizen, a 
Washington-based consumers' rights group, said the sizable police presence was 
"total overkill."

"They're creating a climate of fear and criminalizing protesters," she said.

Sacramento County Sheriff Lou Blanas disagreed, saying, "If it's safe and 
there are no problems, it's never overkill."

Protesters didn't block the agriculture officials as they entered the 
conference Monday morning, police said. At a World Trade Organization meeting in 
Seattle three years ago, protesters were able to delay the event by preventing 
officials from getting to the building.

Sacramento police said they were prepared for thousands of protesters _ the 
organizers sought a permit for 8,000 demonstrators for the event at the Capitol.

-- By Jennifer Coleman, Associated Press Writer




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