- No Thanksgiving meals for the homeless at Occupy Nashville
Occupy Nashville is claiming new harassment at the hands of the Powers That Be. According to an Occupy Nashville press release tonight, Metro health inspectors have told protesters that their Legislative Plaza kitchen constitutes an "imminent health hazard." The demonstrators say they are allowed to serve themselves under this Health Department order, but not anyone outside their group. That's hard luck at Thanksgiving for hungry homeless people, who have eaten a lot of Occupy Nashville's donated food since this protest started.
The inspector said protesters can't serve meals to the public without first attending safety classes, which won't be offered until January. According to Occupy Nashville:
The state laws concerning food preparation are not well-adapted to outdoor settings, and it is curious that the city government has chosen to single out Occupy Nashville for enforcing its rules in such an arbitrary way. Food operations at Occupy Nashville are little different from an outdoor picnic or potluck, where volunteers in the community bring in prepared dishes to serve.
If a protester accidentally dishes up a meal to a homeless person, that's a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail and a $50 fine. Occupy Nashville sees a conspiracy here.
Requiring our volunteer members to effectively become bouncers who determine who can and cannot be served food—itself a human right—is little more than a thinly veiled attempt—either by the Metro government alone or in concert with the state of Tennessee and Gov. Bill Haslam—to suffocate the expression of our First Amendment rights.
: Health Department official
says giving away food is OK. “We said, ‘What you’re doing is OK, but if you sell it, we’re going to close you,’” said Brian Todd, spokesman for the agency.