Report, #OccupySF: March/demo
So this afternoon I went over to San Francisco for the first OccupySF march/demo. It started about 3 p.m. in from of the Bank of America building in the financial district. In front of the building is a large black sculpture which has been known facetiously as "Banker's Heart" ever since it was installed- it had been fenced off. When I first got there around 2:30 there were probably as many cops as participants, but as three o'clock rolled around, I'd say there were at least a couple hundred people. Lots of SEIU people, lots of ACCE people (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), other unions including UAW and NNU (National Nurses United), a few Anonymous people, some with Guy Fawkes masks, others with scarves over their faces. Diverse crowd, not surprising for SF, of course. I'd say the only contingent not well represented was people in their 30s and 40s.
Lots of picket signs were provided by the various groups- some people brought their own. I saw one that amusingly had been written on the other side of a "bankers box" storage container- seemed apropos. I picked a sign with a large cut-out of Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, labeled "robber baron." (My favorite sign of the day, which I would show if I could figure out to upload a photo, had a picture of the demonstrations in Wisconsin, and said, "Screw Us- And We Multiply.")
Around three the march began and wound its way around the financial district, stopping at Wells Fargo, then Charles Schwab, then down to Market Street where demonstrators surrounded the Chase branch. Apparently some people went inside and were arrested, but the police decided it would be too hard to get them out of the building, as it was pretty much surrounded, so eventually they let them go. It was getting on towards five o'clock by then, and a lot of curious commuters on their way to the BART station stopped to take pictures or videos and inquire as to what the protest was about. After lots of chanting and picketing at Chase, we marched down Market to the Embarcadero. There were a few speeches there, and then it kind of broke up.
There was a goodly amount of press- most of the local TV stations. I overheard one reporter say he was from Reuters, and there were some other print reporters. I haven't watched the local news to see what the coverage was like.
I haven't been to a protest since the late Sixties. I admit to thinking several times, "I am too fucking old for this." Even in the Sixties I thought chanting was kind of stupid (though I understand its purpose). Maybe we need better chants. Definitely more humorous signs.