Outrage As 3 Cherry Pie San Francisco Activists Jailed

24 February 1999

from the Biotic Baking Brigade

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.
bbb_apple@hotmail.com 415.267.5976

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:

  1. 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).

  2. 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 capital hegemony.

    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

  3. 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 bbb_apple@hotmail.com and we'll let you know the visiting schedule.

  4. 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 probation. Prosecutors 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.

Excerpts from:
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 another car.

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 power.

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 system.

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 moment.

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 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.
* bbb_apple@hotmail.com

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