Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rain Parade: Occupy SF Fights The Elements

I had a noon meeting in the Financial District, but forgot that Occupy (This Space) had promised to "shut it down." Luckily the geniuses who would re-order our economy didn't realize that January is the one month of the year you are likely to have a driving rain storm. 

Lots of rain. Lots of noise. Few arrests, and smaller crowds than expected. 
All in all, Friday's big Occupy movement attempt to shut down San Francisco's Financial District was a mixed success for the protesters who led it - and something of a relief for those who had feared it. 
Occupy San Francisco organizers mustered several hundred participants for their all-day protest against economic inequality, and as they marched throughout downtown staging rallies and skits and civil disobedience, they did manage to slow traffic and force a couple of businesses to shut down, including the headquarters of Wells Fargo Bank. 
Unlike some major Occupy actions last year on both sides of the bay, nonviolence prevailed - although tensions between police and protesters flared after night fell as activists briefly occupied the vacant Cathedral Hill Hotel on Van Ness Avenue. Two officers were injured by thrown objects there, and at least five people were arrested before the demonstration ended around 11 p.m.

No, I don't know what the point of trying to occupy the vacant Cathedral Hill Hotel was. The hotel closed a while back to make way for a health care facility. No Evil Banks or Teabaggers were involved. 

Even with the driving rain, I saw one sizable crowd crammed on to a sidewalk in front of (I think) a Chase branch. There was a also a knot of folks standing in front of the Federal Reserve building. And, most oddly, there were a couple die-hards in front of the 9th District Court of Appeals building, calling for the repeal of the Citizens United case, (supposedly Friday's protests were timed to coincide with the second anniversary of that decision) which puts these clowns on the same intellectual level as the president who famously chastised the Supreme Court for daring to find that people don't surrender their free speech rights when they organize themselves into a group. But don't call Obama a socialist! That's H8!

I can't say I've done a comprehensive poll on this, but the self-righteous Occupiers have not endeared themselves to the 99% in San Francisco, something captured dramatically in this street vignette:

The first arrests came early, when crowds blocked entrances at the Wells Fargo headquarters at 420 Montgomery St. Seven people were arrested on the Sacramento Street side of the high-rise around 9:30 a.m. Several more protesters were arrested an hour later when they moved back in front of the service entrance. 
On another side of the bank, a number of people covered themselves in a large swath of black fabric and undulated en masse in what they called a "black blob" representing "the security state enshrouded in ever more secrecy." 
A man on his way to work dismissively shouted "Get a job!" at the blob. One demonstrator retorted, "Our job is the occupation!"

Do I like "Wall Street?" Not particularly. Do I like government bailouts of banks, not to mention of insurance companies and car companies? Hell, no! But I dislike squatting, squalid "revolutionaries" even more. 

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