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