San Francisco - When San Francisco's Mayor, Willie Brown, testified against
the three homelessness activists who had thrown pies at him last November,
he repeatedly urged the court to make an example of the defendants. The
trial ended in a split verdict. The jurors deliberated for over nine
hours, finally acquitting the defendants of the heavier charge of
assaulting a public official, while convicting them of simple battery.
Today, Judge Ernest H. Goldsmith complied with the Mayor's demand,
sentencing all three pie-throwers to the maximum penalty of six months in
the county jail.
Spectators who managed to get a seat in the crowded courtroom
voiced their disapproval as the draconian sentences were pronounced. Even
Rahula Janowski was sentenced to six months, despite the testimony the
Mayor's friend Garland Rosario, that he tackled Rahula in the wake of the
pie-ing, snapping her collar-bone and creating in a permanent disability.
Janowski's attorney, Katya Komisaruk, told the judge that this sentence was
a "shanda fur die goyim," an embarrassment for the community.
All three defendants and their attorneys made statements in court,
before Goldsmith issued the sentences. Gross said simply, "Poverty is
violence." Livernois also focused on the continuing disastrous impact of
the Mayor's policies toward the homeless community. And Janowski quoted:
"The psychological importance of a planned campaign against the nuisance of
begging should not be underestimated. Beggars often force their poverty
upon people in the most repulsive way...if this sight disappears from
view... people will feel that things are becoming more stable again, and
that the economy is improving once more." Janowski pointed to the
similarity between this rhetoric--from Nazi Germany's Ministry of
Propaganda--and that of some of San Francisco's civic leaders, and reminded
listeners that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.
The Biotic Baking Brigade (BBB) remains undeterred by the outcome
of the case. Agent Apple, speaking for the BBB General Command, Ecotopia
Division, issued the following communique in response to the harsh
sentences: "The pie is cast. We shall not rest until justice, as well as
dessert, is served."
Friends of the BBB: 3288 21st #92, San Francisco, CA, 94110, Amerika.
To civil society, social and ecological activists, militant bakers,
friends, supporters, and alternative media:
This is a follow up on the case of the Cherry Pie 3, who were sentenced to
six months in San Francisco County Jail for pieing Mayor Brown. The
Ecotopia Cell of the Biotic Baking Brigade is focusing all of its energy
right now into jail support and media detournement instead of our
specialty, action. However, the General Command has been in emergency
session since the afternoon of the sentencing, and they are coordinating a
plan for solidarity pie actions with the l'Internationale des
Anarchos-Patissiers (the notorious anarchist International Patisserie
Brigade) and other pastry radicals. A call will go out soon, we ask that
you please stay tuned...and start pre-heating your ovens! Remember folks,
these are dangerous days, and we may look back on them fondly as when you
could still carry a pie without a license.
On a personal note, I already miss the presence of three good friends, but
I realize that they have no regrets and refused to compromise in the fight
against neoliberalism, injustice, and fascist economics. The Bay Area will
also miss these seasoned activists. Rahula has been a mainstay with Food
Not Bombs and social justice issues, Justin's passion is ecological defense
and Earth First!, while Jerry works on animal liberation and volunteers at
Act Up. Instead of each paying $700 to the state and serving three years of
probation with a search clause (that the cops could use to search their
homes, offices, or persons any time of day or night), which would have
effectively shut them down as frontlines activists, they stood strong and
upheld their beliefs. You can jail the people, but not the movement. Ya
basta! La lucha sigue/La lutte continue/The struggle continues....
Aside from solidarity pie actions, people can support the Cherry Pie 3 by:
- Writing to them in the nick.
Rahula Janowski #1818075
c/o SF County Jail 8, E Pod
425 7th St.
SF, CA 94103
Justin Gross #1818071
c/o SF County Jail 8, B Pod
425 7th St.
SF, CA 94103
Jerry has not been incarcerated yet due to medical reasons, but if he is we
will put out his address immediately. Rahula asks that people write and
talk about real life stories, what they believe in, what their passions
are, and what kinds of pies they enjoy (actually, I added that last part).
- We could really use some financial support, both to help out with the
personal expenses of the Cherry Pie 3 (rent and finding subletters for
their rooms, collect calls from jail to friends and family, postage, and
ordering vegan snacks from the jail commisary), as well as the cost of
legal expenses and jail support. Not to mention, of course, organic and
vegan baking ingredients for more actions.
If people care to spare some dosh, or raise some through a bake sale, music
gig, party, bank robbery or corporate scam, that would be so ace. And it
will allow us to continue our delicious resistance to globalization and
Checks and money orders can be made out to Jeff Larson (who himself is
facing a trial for pieing the CEO of Monsanto), and sent to: Friends of the
BBB: 3288 21st #92, San Francisco, CA, 94110
- If you live in Northern California, or are coming through, you can visit
the Cherry Pie 3 in gaol. Just send us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and
we'll let you know the visiting schedule.
- Continue to fight the power however you're already doing it.
And now for something completely different...
Below you'll find two articles
on the case, Rahula's eloquent statement at sentencing, excerpts from Judge
Goldsmith's philosophical rant (which really should be distributed widely;
it's perhaps the classic statement on Law & Order in Amerika today), and a
recent Jim Hightower radio spot on the BBB. A global roundup of recent pie
events will be issued shortly.
From the mountains of the Ecotopia, this is Agent Apple saying . . . We can
lick the upper crust!
The pie penalty
By A. Clay Thompson
San Francisco Bay Guardian, February 25, 1999
While sentencing San Francisco's most notorious bakers, Judge Ernest H.
Goldsmith invoked the specter of Dan White, quoted Mahatma Gandhi, and paid
homage to the American political system
and in the end, a couple minutes after 10 a.m., Feb. 25, he slammed the
"Cherry Pie Three" with a
six-month jail sentence. The trio, Gerry Livernois, Rahula Janowski, and
Justin Gross, will likely
spend four to five months in the clink for mushing three pies into Mayor
Willie Brown's mug back in
November. The act rocketed the trio, and their clandestine guerrilla
organization, the Biotic
Baking Brigade, to international infamy and hero status among
rabble-rousers around the globe.
The San Francisco Probation Department recommended Goldsmith hit each of
the three with
more than $700 is in fines, 60 days in a work program, and three years
argued for the fines in addition to the six-month max jail sentence. The
brigade decided they'd
rather take jail time than be yoked by probation rules for the next 36
months. Goldsmith chucked the proverbial book at 'em.
Now, with prominent brigadistas behind bars, the guerrillas continue to
issue pithy electronic communiqués as they plot their next move. The Bay
Guardian has acquired the presentencing statement read by Janowski (a.k.a.
Agent Lemon Meringue) and a bunch of other brigade manifestos. Look for an
interview with the jailed agents on sfbg.com March 3.
Use a pie, go to jail
By Rob Morse, San Francisco EXAMINER COLUMNIST
Thursday, February 25, 1999
Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith has a strange formula for justice:
Pie = 6.
He sentenced the three pie-throwers who attacked Mayor Brown to six months
in the county jail.
That's extreme for an assault with tofu cream. I say that as a columnist
who condemned the attack as ugly and potentially dangerous, and condemned
the attackers for using the excuse that they were doing it for the homeless.
Still, six months?
"That's very harsh for that kind of a crime," said Peter Keane, dean of the
law school at Golden Gate University, and a friend of Judge Goldsmith.
"If you or I got hit with a pie it would be considered egregious if someone
did a weekend in jail. . . . People have had their noses broken and
significant injuries, and people didn't do anywhere near that."
In The Examiner's survey "Judging the Judges," published in December, trial
lawyers appearing most frequently in court rated Goldsmith among the worst
judges in weighing evidence and readily grasping issues.
How about math? Pie = 6? This judge is either very crusty or very flaky.
I looked through the newspaper's electronic library for newsworthy
sentencings in the last year.
A young man involved in the racially motivated gang beating of two black
couples and an infant in the Haight got a year in jail, of which he'd
probably serve only six months because of time served. And he used a chain,
not a pie.
Latrelle Sprewell got three months of home detention for reckless driving
on Interstate 680 when he swerved off an exit and injured a couple in
A woman in Salinas got six months in jail for running up $8,000 worth of
bills on other people's credit cards to buy Beanie Babies.
Of course, weird crimes make the paper. Now we have the weirdest crime and
punishment of all time, six months of hard time for soft cream.
Statement of Rahula Janowski At Sentencing
Today in San Francisco, a large number of people are participating in a 21
day fast as a part Of Religious Witness's "Save The Dream Campaign." The
dream referred to is the dream of Presidio housing for homeless people, as
recommended by the voters of San Francisco when they passed proposition L
in 1998. While Willie Brown doesn't have ultimate authority over the use
of the Presidio, he does, as mayor of San Francisco and as one of
California's most powerful politicians, have considerable influence which
he could use to try to make that dream come true. So far, he hasn't and so
for the next fourteen days, hundreds of people will be fasting for a day or
for many days to show their commitment to humane and respectful treatment
of Homeless people in San Francisco.
In all honesty, I doubt that Willie Brown will be swayed to advocate for
homeless people in any way. Yet I plan to participate in this fast because
we must have hope and we must engage in a variety of activities to secure
justice for the poor and homeless among us.
In the past five years I have engaged in a variety of activities focused on
justice for poor and homeless people. I have written letters and signed
petitions. I have marched in the streets; I have fed hundreds of hungry
people, I have engaged in civil disobedience, and, yes, I have thrown a pie.
In the years I have lived in San Francisco, I have watched the numbers of
homeless people in our city increase at a heart sickening rate. I've seen
vacancy rates plummet as rents rise drastically and affordable housing goes
the way of the dinosaurs. Hand in hand with this housing crisis, I have
also seen many of our public officials respond in a heartless and cruel way
by victimizing and criminalizing homeless people. Matrix did not end when
Willie Brown was elected, it simply became a nameless policy of harassment,
as quality of life infractions, which specifically target homeless people,
increased. Where is the compassion, the humanity, in our collective
response to this situation?
Willie Brown began his political career as a tireless campaigner for civil
rights. When civil rights activists staged sit ins in the sixties to fight
racial discrimination, Willie Brown was there, lining up legal support for
the hundreds of arrested activists, among them our current District
Attorney, Terence Hallinan. Throughout his political career, Willie Brown
has maintained his commitment to civil rights for African American people,
which has won him a large amount of support and a loyal constituency. This
makes it all the harder to bear when we see him ignoring and denying the
civil rights of homeless people.
There is a famous quotation from Pastor Niemoeller , a holocaust survivor.
I'm sure you're familiar with it. It begins, "First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew." It concludes, "Then they
came for me, and there was nobody left to speak out for me." What that
famous and moving quotation does not mention is that before they came for
the Jews, they came for the homeless, the mentally disabled, the
unemployed, and all those categorized as "asocial."
The rationale behind the purge of poor and "asocial" people in Germany was
as follows. "The psychological importance of a planned campaign against the
nuisance of begging should not be underestimated. Beggars often force
their poverty upon people in the most repulsive way for their own selfish
purposes. If this sight disappears from view, the result will be a
definite feeling of relief and liberation. People will feel that things
are becoming more stable again, and that the economy is improving once
more." The similarities between this rhetoric from Nazi Germany's Ministry
of Propaganda and the rhetoric of our own local officials in their fight to
rid San Francisco of visible homelessness is obvious. Let me be clear; I
am not accusing Willie Brown or anyone else of being a Nazi. I am simply
pointing out that by forgetting or ignoring that aspect of the Nazi
Holocaust, we are in grave danger. As they say, those who ignore history
are condemned to repeat it. The few people objecting to, and protesting,
the scapegoating of our homeless community, are ignored. In one of his
earliest acts as Mayor, Willie Brown canceled a much needed summit on
homelessness, claiming it was a problem that couldn't be solved. Yes,
homelessness can be solved, but it will take honesty, integrity, bravery,
and a commitment to putting human needs ahead of economic profiteering.
When our elected officials are so firmly in the pocket of wealthy
interests, it is hard to be optimistic about change.
>From the very beginning, this case has been politically charged. Throwing
pie at Willie Brown was a political act, an act of political theater
intended to hold him accountable for the harm he does as mayor to homeless
people, and to draw attention to the plight faced by poor and homeless
people in San Francisco. The aggressive prosecution of this case by Willie
Brown's longtime friend and political ally, Terence Hallinan, has been
politically motivated. Throughout the whole process, my codefendants and I
have been willing and eager to find compromises and solutions to this
situation. We offered a public apology to Willie Brown; we stated that we
are sorry he was frightened and we are sorry he was hurt. It was never our
intention for anyone to be hurt; I have never in my life intentionally
caused physical harm to another person. We also offered an apology to
those members of the African American community who viewed our act in a
racial context and felt that for three white activists to pie a black mayor
was racist. We met with a delegation from the African American community,
including the Reverend Cecil Williams and Supervisor Amos Brown, to try to
engage in dialogue, because our act was not done in a racial context, it
was done as a cry of protest from the disempowered to the over empowered.
Our attorneys met with DA Hallinan to express our willingness to plead
guilty to a lesser charge and perform significant hours of community
service. All of our efforts were met with disdain and rejection because
this is a political case, and as stated by Willie Brown here in this
courtroom, we were to be made examples of.
And examples we are. We are examples of how the justice system can be
discretionary and discriminatory; of how politics and power brokering
affect an individuals opportunity for fair treatment under the law.
Our case is also an illuminating example of the lack of perspective and
proportion in our society today. To treat pie throwing as a violent act
and to prosecute it so aggressively is ridiculous beyond all measure.
It is apparent to me that the real crime we are here to be sentenced for is
the crime of rocking the boat, challenging the status quo, and irritating
one of the state's most powerful and influential politicians. The crimes
committed against homeless people on a daily basis in this city
consistently go unpunished. Homeless people are regularly assaulted, their
belongings are regularly stolen, and their civil liberties and human rights
are consistently denied and violated. I can only hope that a day will come
when crimes against the dispossessed and the powerless are prosecuted as
thoroughly as crimes against the ruling class and the powerful are
prosecuted. For that day to come, the values held by our society must be
dramatically altered. The most basic of human needs must become more
important than greed and the relentless drive for acquisition of goods and
I know that the act of throwing a pie alone will not bring about this
change. However, it is my hope as the people of San Francisco look at our
action and the aftermath of our action, they will become more aware of the
disparities of our governmental, criminal, and judicial institutions. And
it is my hope that, as they become aware, they will be moved to act; to
say, No More!; and to dismantle this unjust, compassionless, and humorless
CREAM AND PUNISHMENT--Industrial Society and Its Future,
Why We Choose Anarchism Over All Forms of Statism
By Judge Ernest Goldsmith
"The court witnessed the evidence presented and has given it a great deal
of thought. There is no question that the defendants committed the crime
of battery, that crime of which they've been convicted. The video
presented at the trial showed an intentional striking of Mayor Brown.
Battery is typically a crime, which arises without planning, is spur of the
moment, often in the heat of mutual combat. The testimony of the
defendants indicated that this was a well planned, co-ordinated,
intentional attack. They planned it individually, and in concert to take
place in a crowded public meeting where disorder and physical danger were
foreseeable consequences. The court finds these facts to be an aggravation
of the crime.
The city of San Francisco is all too well acquainted with the
vulnerability of its elected officials. We have a tragic history of
political assassination. The defendants claim their acts were political
theater. But to San Franciscans the video in evidence evokes memories of
the assassinations of both Mayor Moscone and supervisor Milk. While
defendants characterize their acts as an attack on Mayor Brown's policies,
it is an attack on his person. The Mayor testified that he did not see the
attackers coming, he did not know who or what hit him, nor did he know what
was coming next. This attack had the potential for grave harm, not only to
the mayor who suffered a painful ankle injury, but to the defendants at the
hands of a terrified crowd. The mayor grabbed the microphone and spoke
calm to the crowd and even yelled "Don't hurt them, don't hurt them", to
prevent harm to the defendants [editor's note-this is a complete
misrepresentation of what happened; the video showed that the Mayor jumped
on Justin and put him in a headlock and screamed obscenities at him]. When
all is said and done, the defendants placed themselves as well as the
victim and the bystanders in great danger. I find these facts to be an
aggravation of the offense.
The sentencing of a convicted defendant seeks to accomplish three things.
First, to punish the defendant. Second, to dissuade or deter the defendant
form engaging in similar criminal behavior in the future. Third, to
dissuade or deter others from engaging in the illegal behavior. Ms.
Janowski, Mr. Gross and Mr. Livernois, it is the court's responsibility to
deter you and others form committing similar illegal acts, and the
imposition of punishment is the only means at the courts disposal to
accomplish this. In all your communications and statements you have voiced
sentiments suggesting that you will continue this behavior. The only thing
the court can do is to make the punishment such that you and others will be
deterred. Consider Ms. J, Mr. G, and Mr. L, that it is the court's
responsibility to deter you and others from committing similar illegal
acts, and the imposition of punishment is the only means at the court's
disposal to accomplish this. In all your communications and statements you
have voiced sentiments suggesting that you will continue this behavior.
The only thing the court can do is to make the punishment such that you and
others will be deterred. Consider Ms. J., Mr. G., Mr. L., that there are
some 500, 000 elected officials in the U.S. They are senators,
councilpersons, mayors, a president, school board members, and so on.
Disagreement with public policy no matter how heartfelt, sincere, and
perhaps even correct does not give license to commit battery or any other
crime upon a person or such officials.
There is a mortar, which holds this democracy together, and that is our
system of elections. Americans need not take to the streets, grab weapons,
or hit someone if they disagree with policy or their side loses an
election. Americans know that there will be another round at the ballot
box in a year, or two, or four. Your side has a chance of winning next
time. The result is stability almost unknown elsewhere in the world, and
most or us would like to keep it that way.
Political, social, and economic issues coalesce within the
electoral system within this country. As citizens you can walk precincts,
call voters, and work to elect those with whom you agree. Indeed, you can
aspire to run for office yourselves, and have the forum you seek and try to
affect political change. Arching over all of this are our rights of
expression and free speech. You have alluded to these rights in connection
with your actions, which you should learn from the jury verdict, do not
include battery. You do however have the right to assemble, to peacefully
seek media coverage, to demonstrate publicly with certain bounds, to form
and speak before citizens groups in order to develop and articulate your
view, to support or deny support to elect officials, and to disseminate
information to convince others. You could have exercised those rights on
Nov. 7th, 1998. In order to exercise your rights of protected speech and
assembly, to enjoy the freedom of expression supported by the constitution
you must do so without violence. You are free to attack an elected
official's policies; you are not free to attack his or her person.
As a footnote, let me mention to the defendants that I observed a book in
front of the defendants during jury deliberations, when the jury entered
and exited the courtroom.
The title of that book in very large block letters read Gandhi. I assume
the message to the jury was an allusion that the defendant's acts were
somehow related to Gandhi's acts of civil disobedience. I would like to
suggest that this book might contain important lessons for the defendants.
Mohandas Gandhi explained his dynamic social and political movement. He
said it was called satyhagraha, which means in Sanskrit, truth without
violence. He described the movement as a technique intended to replace
violence. Gandhi's writings as I understand it insisted that individual
will and reason can affect social change. His objective was to reach
resolution of conflict positions and enlarge areas of agreement by means of
persuasion. He asserted nonviolence was the method of achieving the truth.
Gandhi urged applying a dialectical approach to social and economic process
that is the examining of opposing opinions logically with logical
argumentation to determine their validity. According to Gandhi, one's
message is to be delivered through the convincing force of one's analysis
and argument, and the logic of one's ideas. I hope you Ms.J., Mr.G., Mr.
L., will engage in such a nonviolent (tape skip). The court does not want
to see these defendants or anyone else commit batteries or any crime
against any public official with whom they disagree, or wish to hold up to
ridicule. They must learn to use other methods to get their message across
to government (tape skip). The court does not want to see these defendants
injured at the scene of a speech or rally, as they will be if they repeat
acts such as this. Nor does this court want to see bystanders placed at
risk or trampled to death if disorder breaks out in the midst of a pie
throwing, or any other crime. The court does not want a public official
injured, as was Mayor Brown, or a public official to experience the stark
terror of not knowing whether he or she is being assassinated at that
The defendants in this case rejected probation. Probation which
means a promise not to commit crimes. Punishment by sentences to county
jail are the only means available to the courts to impress upon the
defendants and others that the acts for which the defendants were convicted
are not sanctioned but are against the law, and will not be tolerated."
At this point the judge asks if arraignment for sentencing is waived and
sentences each defendant to six months in jail.
Transcript of recent Jim Hightower radio spot:
Quicker than a flash, like Robin Hood on fast-forward, they've struck
again: [reverb] The Biotic Baking Brigade
THE PEOPLE'S PIE REBELLION
The BBB is a movement that actually moves-a network of political
pranksters who literally practice in-your-face politics. They target
assorted greedheads, hitting them right in the smacker . . . with pies! As
"Agent Apple" of the BBB recently put it, "We speak pie to power."
Among those who've gotten a taste of the Biotic Baking Brigade's sweet
and swift justice is Robert Shapiro, CEO of Monsanto. His thuggish
corporation is profiteering by arrogantly and dangerously messing with the
genetics of our food supply, running roughshod over public health, family
farmers, consumers, civil liberties, and Mother Nature. So-splat!-Shapiro
got a tofu cream, right in his corporate kisser.
Charles Hurwitz, CEO of Maxxam, also has been pied. This posterboy of
the infamous S&L bailout presently owns thousands of acres in the
Headwaters area of Northern California. The land is forested with
ancient-growth trees . . . which Hurwitz is clear-cutting. So the
underground agents of the BBB delivered one to Charlie-for the trees.
The head of the World Trade Organization has tasted the Brigade's
cream-filled vengeance, too, as has the Mayor of San Francisco. The BBB
said that the Mayor's creamy comeuppance was for his consistent collusion
with developer interests over the people's interests. The startled mayor
got three pies at a recent press conference-cherry, tofu cream, and
pumpkin. His three piers were arrested by the mayor's police guard, and
one of them suffered a broken collar bone in the fracas. Hey, it's not all
sweetness being a pastry provocateur.
This is Jim Hightower saying . . . But it is worthy work. The BBB's
pies are the Boston Tea Party of our modern day, sending a serious message
softly to the corporate oligarchy.
Friends of the BBB: 3288 21st #92, San Francisco, CA, 94110, Amerika.