FORT LAUDERDALE FOOD NOT BOMBS, NATHAN PIM, JILLIAN PIM, HAYLEE BECKER, WILLIAM TOOLE, Plaintiffs - Appellants,
CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE, Defendant - Appellee.
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 0:15-cv-60185-WJZ
TJOFLAT and JORDAN, Circuit Judges, and STEELE, [*] District Judge.
JORDAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE
understanding what is going on around us, context matters.
Food shared with company differs greatly from a meal eaten
alone. Unlike a solitary supper, a feast requires the host to
entertain and the guests to interact. Lady Macbeth knew this,
and chided her husband for “not giv[ing] the
cheer” at the banquet depicted in Shakespeare's
play. As she explained: “To feed were best at home;
From thence, the sauce to meat is ceremony. Meeting bare
without it.” William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of
Macbeth, Act III, scene 4 (1606).
Lauderdale Food Not Bombs, a non-profit organization, hosts
weekly events at a public park in Fort Lauderdale, sharing
food at no cost with those who gather to join in the meal.
FLFNB's members set up a table and banner with the
organization's name and emblem in the park and invite
passersby to join them in sitting down and enjoying
vegetarian or vegan food. When the City of Fort Lauderdale
enacted an ordinance in 2014 that restricted this food
sharing, FLFNB and some of its members (whom we refer to
collectively as FLFNB) filed suit under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. They alleged that the ordinance and a related park rule
violated their First Amendment rights of free speech and free
association and were unconstitutionally vague.
district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City.
It held that FLFNB's outdoor food sharing was not
expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment and that
the ordinance and park rule were not vague. See Ft.
Lauderdale Food Not Bombs v. City of Ft. Lauderdale,
2016 WL 5942528 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 3, 2016) (final judgment).
FLFNB appeals those rulings.
the issue left undecided in First Vagabonds Church of God
v. City of Orlando, Florida, 638 F.3d 756, 760 (11th
Cir. 2011) (en banc), we hold that on this record FLFNB's
outdoor food sharing is expressive conduct protected by the
First Amendment. We therefore reverse the district
court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City.
On remand, the district court will need to determine whether
the ordinance and park rule violate the First Amendment and
whether they are unconstitutionally vague.
which is affiliated with the international organization Food
Not Bombs, engages in peaceful political direct action. It
conducts weekly food sharing events at Stranahan Park,
located in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Stranahan Park, an
undisputed public forum, is known in the community as a
location where the homeless tend to congregate and, according
to FLFNB, “has traditionally been a battleground over
the City's attempts to reduce the visibility of
homelessness.” D.E. 41 at 8.
these events, FLFNB distributes vegetarian or vegan food,
free of charge, to anyone who chooses to participate. FLFNB
does not serve food as a charity, but rather to communicate
its message “that [ ] society can end hunger and
poverty if we redirect our collective resources from the
military and war and that food is a human right, not a
privilege, which society has a responsibility to provide for
all.” D.E. 39 at 1. Providing food in a visible public
space, and partaking in meals that are shared with others, is
an act of political solidarity meant to convey the
sets up a table underneath a gazebo in the park, distributes
food, and its members (or, as the City describes them,
volunteers) eat together with all of the participants, many
of whom are homeless individuals residing in the downtown
Fort Lauderdale area. See D.E. 40-23. FLFNB's
set-up includes a banner with the name “Food Not
Bombs” and the organization's logo-a fist holding a
carrot-and individuals associated with the organization pass
out literature during the event. See id.
October 22, 2014, the City enacted Ordinance C-14-42, which
amended the City's existing Uniform Land Development
Regulations. Under the Ordinance, “social
[a]ny service[s] provided to the public to address public
welfare and health such as, but not limited to, the provision
of food; hygiene care; group rehabilitative or recovery
assistance, or any combination thereof; rehabilitative or
recovery programs utilizing counseling, self- help or other
treatment of assistance; and day shelter or any combination
D.E. 38-1, § 1.B.6. The Ordinance regulates
“social service facilities, ” which include an
“outdoor food distribution center.” D.E. 38-1,
§ 1.B.8. An “outdoor food distribution
center” is defined as
[a]ny location or site temporarily used to furnish meals to
members of the public without cost or at a very low cost as a
social service as defined herein. A food distribution center
shall not be considered a restaurant.
D.E. 38-1, § 1.B.4.
Ordinance imposes restrictions on hours of operation and
contains requirements regarding food handling and safety.
Depending on the specific zoning district, a social service
facility may be permitted, not permitted, or require a
conditional use permit. See D.E. 38-1 at 9. Social
service facilities operating in a permitted use zone are
still subject to review by the City's development review
committee. See id.
Park is zoned as a “Regional Activity Center - City
Center, ” D.E. 38-34, and requires a conditional use
permit. See D.E. 38-1 at 9. To receive a conditional
use permit, applicants must demonstrate that their social