Starving People to Save Them from “Blight”: The ‘Love Stand’ Shut Down by CityShae Parrilla Pantry Worker, Member of the MANY, Founder of Ypsi Free Stuff
D’Real Graham and Tyler Weston started the open-air porch pantry earlier in the pandemic when increased food scarcity and social distancing made it a clever solution to these intersecting challenges. Of course, neither of these things have gone away—quite the opposite—Food Gatherers reports more scarcity than ever and the health department has placed Washtenaw County at MEDIUM or HIGH covid-19 risk for months (not even including flu and RSV cases).
And yet here we are, The Love Stand on River St. — right next to Sidetracks — is court-ordered to shut down and the remaining proprietor, Tyler Weston, is being charged with a crime. What crime exactly? Not pulling zoning or historic district permits. Laws they would have you believe are designed to protect people (but not starving people). It’s important that we acknowledge the role of the city and the court system in interfering with mutual aid projects, which have their root in black, poor, and other marginalized communities. And how it upholds food scarcity and white supremacy. We need more projects, permitted or not, to meet the increasing demand for food in this county.
Its important to recognize though that it takes a community to practice mutual aid and while it was on one man’s property, hundreds of people regularly brought food to this food stand for redistribution to the community. And thousands utilized it. The people of this community made that porch pantry thrive and we can do it again. If the city could just back off and let the people of Ypsilanti do what we do and take care of each other, instead of enforce laws meant to preserve property values for the rich, white property-owning majority.
In the meantime, I urge you to connect with like minded individuals doing mutual aid work or share directly with community members via these groups: Washtenaw County Mutual Aid, The MANY Community Page, Ypsi Free Stuff, Ypsi Free Food
Tyler said he was “called by God” to start that pantry. And I believe him because there is nothing more enriching to the spirit and the soul than taking care of each other. I hope I see you out there!