First it was illegal occupation of Lee Park, then underage drinking in an on-site tent, on the heels of unpermitted construction, followed by requests for rape whistles, and now, Occupy Charlottesville (OC) may be violating State health laws in regard to food provision.

In an October 24 Special Event Application, group representative, Bailee E. Hampton, stated in her own writing that “there is no official food distribution” at the demonstration.

Good thing, because if there was, the Application informs the applicant:

“A Temporary Food Permit will be required by the State Health Department (Thomas Jefferson Health District) located on Rose Hill Drive…”

In addition, a Special Events Certificate of Approval issued to OC by the City of Charlottesville includes the following language regarding food:

TEMPORARY FOOD PERMIT

No food or food items may be distributed or provided to participants without obtaining a Temporary Food Permit from the Thomas Jefferson Health District–Environmental Services Division. This is a State requirement. Food permits must be posted for public view unless otherwise requested by State Health Department.

Yet, a November 2 Occupy Charlottesville press release entitled “OCCUPY CHARLOTTESVILLE SEEKS HELP FROM COMMUNITY” directly contradicts the City’s conditional terms of Occupancy:

We would like to formally invite the public to attend our Occupation, and we challenge those who seek to divide the bottom 99% to come spend even one night in the cold with us. There is an especial need for social workers, teachers, security volunteers, counselors of all kinds, cooks, cleaners, campers and anyone seeking solidarity, community or camaraderie. We would like to welcome questions and comments in person at our camp, and are happy to engage in polite discussion at any hour. Please come in a spirit of nonviolence and respect, and bring your friends. There is free food and beverage available to anyone, as well as coats and blankets, books and tarps. All are welcome.  [Emphasis added]

A recent picture of the encampment’s open “kitchen” area (see below) shows what appear to be fresh bananas and bagels amidst prepackaged foods and other food supplies, openly displayed and seemingly placed for the taking. Local Health Department officials confirm that as of yesterday, no Temporary Food Permit had been issued to Occupy Charlottesville.

OC protest organizer, Evan Knappenberger, stated in a November 3 Daily Progress story that the group is a respecter of law:

“We believe in law and order,” Knappenberger said, explaining that both the city and the Occupy Charlottesville movement feel strongly about keeping Lee Park both safe and clean.

If so, where is the State-mandated Temporary Food Permit for Occupy Charlottesville’s self-described food preparation and distribution services?

If not, where is the Thomas Jefferson Health District and where is equal protection under the law?

Occupy Charlottesville’s illegal commandeering of Lee Park may have been given a pass by politically sympathetic City Hall Marxists, but State forgiveness of health-related transgressions is much less likely—especially considering the open and flagrant nature of continuing OC violations.

17 COMMENTS

  1. What is Occupy Charlottesville planning to cook in that Crock Pot? (it’s sitting below the lamp) Kristen Szakos’ famous Chili recipe??

  2. Do you really want to enforce stupid laws just to get at OWS? If a group of people want to gather and supply food, why would you need a permit? Seriously? That spells doom for almost any pot luck gathering.

    Note, I’m not a fan of OWS at all, but I fear the “slapping gov regulations” on them will only cause us more pain in the end.

  3. @ Christina, you have mischaracterized my purpose in posting this information.

    As for "slapping government regulations on them," I trust you would not apply the same logic to abortion clinics.

  4. Well, I no longer find it amazing how OWC feel they have the right to do whatever they want. We have laws, regulations in place to protect us. By having food just out in the open invites bugs (thank God it’s cold now) but let’s not forget about the mice, rats, foxes and other wildlife that lives in the City, especially downtown. They do carry disease and who is going to pick up the rabies treatment if someone get bitten. Then what about the open fires that have been seen on news of late. If you are going to agree to play by rules of engagement once get that sheet of paper, pull up your adult pants and do it. Instead of showing how immature your group is by thumbing your nose at all of us who are just making it from day to day. Yes there are a lot of stupid laws on the books. But some of these laws are there to protect all of us. To protect us from some nasty disease that can be transmitted via food, via animal, via water etc. In closing there is a quote from Simone Weil — There is one, and only one thing in modern society more hideous than crime — namely repressive justice. As long as City government picks and chooses which laws and regulations they care to enforce with OC we are all in danger.

  5. the occupiers are helping homeless people!!!!!!

    Nonsense. The homeless get breakfast and social services at the Haven, practically across the street. They get lunch at various churches downtown. You’re serving three meals a day to feed yourselves.

  6. Andrew James Shelden we don't have open fires. We have fires in an above ground metal fire pit that is covered with mesh. The fire marshal has been by several times to check it out and make sure it meets their requirements.

  7. Christina, thank you for recognizing the irony of Mr. Schilling going after OWS with government regulations while claiming to be in favor of reducing government regulation.

    Ken, actually much of our food, blankets and warm clothing go to the homeless, who very much appreciate being able to camp in the park. Some of them have gone from belligerent drunkenness to relative sobriety and are now helping us with security in the park.

    The situation there is complex, as you might expect when a bunch of middle class protesters are confronted head on with the hard reality of the social injustice we are protesting. We are trying very hard to strike a balance between conducting or occupation and sharing the park with the homeless, some of whom have been completely abandoned by society and are drug or alcohol abusers, prone to violence or mentally ill.

    Despite the challenges, we’ve managed to work with them. They come to the park because it’s a better place for them than the alternatives, at least while we are there with permission to stay overnight.

  8. Ed, thanks for the reply. Perhaps you would also answer the question others have ducked: how do you feel that your protest is achieving your goals? For example, Jamie mentioned toppling the Federal Reserve. Does your movement have any chance at all of doing that, and how?

  9. Our goal is to raise awareness of how the irresponsible and often criminal actions of Wall Street got us into this recession, and to demand accountability for it and change to keep it from happening again.

    Ken, at the moment we see this protest as in its infancy, but we hope to get people thinking about and discussing the information we are trying to bring to their attention. To some extent that’s working, though information dispersal is pretty uneven. But I’ve had a number of people come and ask what we were protesting the discuss the issues with me. Best of all most of them have left determined to investigate further on their own.

    Jamie is an advocate of eliminating the Federal Reserve, but I am not particularly. I do think it needs reconsideration and reform. I’m not an expert on monetary policy, so I don’t know the best answer, but I do think that as a society we need to decide what the priorities for the Federal Reserve (or whatever replaces it) are. Currently they are supposed to work to insure low inflation and full employment, but they have habitually favored low inflation over full employment whenever the two have been in conflict.

    Whether any reform can happen depends entirely on whether we can communicate the information and whether or not the American public agrees with us on the problem and the need for solutions.

  10. No problem. And in this case the city didn't install it as far as I know — it's a temporary one and I assume one of the protesters brought it our perhaps it was a donation. I don't actually know where it came from.

  11. Thank you for the answer, Ed. I’m in sympathy with your main goal, but highly skeptical that camping out in Lee Park will in any way help you achieve it. At least your encampment yesterday, the last time I saw it, was looking a little neater.

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