#OccupySF, our local incarnation of the increasingly global Occupy Wall Street movement, has had its ups and downs. I first visited the camp, located in front of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Building at 101 Market Street, a little over a week ago, a few days after a major confrontation with SFPD on October 6.
At that particular moment, the camp and protests were quite small, mostly situated on the sidewalk in front of 101 Market. The Federal Reserve Building itself was blocked off with large fences, and eerily quiet.
There was a large police presence at the front of the gate, but things were quite peaceful and orderly, and seemingly cordial. Inside the camp itself, a relatively relaxed but serious atmosphere also prevailed. But there was a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and certainly a lot of humor in the protest signs that participants were creating and holding up towards Market Street. This one was by far my favorite:
But I did also like this one with its Sci-Fi mixed metaphors:
I did take a turn at standing in protest with the other participants, holding up a couple of different signs, and enjoying the support from the MUNI operators of streetcars and busses that came by and honked/chimed in support. I also got a chance to participate in the now well-known technique of call-and-response that was used for conveying information and having discussions. Basically, each phrase of a speaker is echoed by the others assembled. It is efficient to amplify words and meaning without using megaphones or electrical equipment, but it also gives the communication a musical quality.
There was also the juxtaposition of the Blue Angels flying around the buildings of the city during Fleet Week. I always find the presence of loud airplanes among downtown buildings extremely disconcerting, but set against the protests it became rather surreal.
Since my visit, the encampment has grown and moved to nearby Justin Herman Plaza (home of the Vaillancourt Fountain of which I am quite fond). There was a large march through the Financial District (which I wished I had been able to attend), and a larger rally this weekend ended at Civic Center Plaza. However, in addition to these positive developments, there was also a raid on the camp late this past Sunday night. I was not there myself, but you can see a bit of what happened in this video by Josh Wolf:
Since then, my own city representative has visited the camp in support. And a march and rally at City Hall occurred today in support of #OccupySF’s right to assemble and protest. This is one of the days my work takes me out of the city, and I don’t yet know how things turned out…