Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy SF- Who Was There

Young men wearing flannel shirts and dark hoodies sat on their skateboards in a circle on the lawn in the middle of camp.

TV reporters pointed cameras and shoved microphones into the faces of the weirdest people they could find and prompted them to say inevitably outrageous things.

Legal volunteers wandered the camp making sure everyone had the phone number of the legal hotline. I scribbled the number on my hand just in case the police rushed in and I got swept up with the people being arrested.

A pack of drag queens sashayed by lisping “drag queens for social justice”.

An enthusiastic guitar and mandolin duo entertained the crowd by singing “All you fascists are bound to lose!” to a cheerful melody.

Former City Supervisor Aaron Peskin sat on the ground linking arms with others who were willing to get arrested tonight. Mayoral candidates Leland Yee and John Avalos were also present, often with digital recorders shoved in their faces seeking saucy sound bytes.

Gray-haired Boomers wearing Land’s End fleece jackets marched in a circle and reminisced about past marches, actions, and demonstrations.

Garden variety San Francisco hippies huddled together pinching joints between their thumb and forefinger.

Drunken homeless people plopped down to sleep smack-dab in the middle of all the milling crowds, probably wondering what the hell all the noise was about.

Canine occupiers were well represented. Two puppies wrestled in the center of camp, and on the outskirts a kitten on a leash ignored the action long enough to lick herself a nice bath.

Young people clutched cell phones, social networking at lightning speed with blurred thumbs.

Earnest social justice and activist leaders prepped crowds of people on the north and south ends of camp. “Mic check” one of them would yell. And the crowd repeated “MIC CHECK”. Then a series of staccato instructions would ensue—one sentence at a time—while the crowd repeated each sentence. “We are going to role play.” WE ARE GOING TO ROLE PLAY. “When the police come we will form 3 rows”. WHEN THE POLICE COME WE WILL FORM 3 ROWS. (you get the idea) “The first row will be seated.” “The second row will be kneeling behind them.” “The third row will be standing.”

We were instructed that if you were willing to get arrested tonight you should be a part of the first row sitting in front of the camp. Those who weren’t willing to get arrested were instructed to stand on the sidewalks on the sides of the camp and alternate between two chants: “The-whole-world-is-watching” and “They-may-be-violent-but-we-are-nonviolent”. And as a final instruction, the activists told us “the police will succeed if they raid the camp tonight. So when we are dispersed, reconvene tomorrow at noon in front of 101 Market Street.”

There’s a lot of smart, brave, committed people at that camp. I’m going to bed hoping that my prayers made a difference for those who may be arrested or injured tonight.

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