I participated yesterday at Occupy San Francisco’s ‘foreclose Wells Fargo,’ my 3rd Wednesday demonstrating.
I feel like this movement is the revolution I’ve been waiting for my entire life. It resonates on every level of my being.
The action took place during morning rush hour. Tuesday night I couldn’t sleep at all, tossed and turn and thought. Partly the humidity of October in the bay area, partly many things on my mind, such as feeling something being born or recognized in myself. I’m going through a metamorphosis of some kind, which is also something that I’ve been waiting and seeking my entire life.
What started at Burning Man has continued and multiplied and become some sort of fractal presentation of myself, where everything I see and touch and think is related and relevant. For instance, what does freedom really mean to me? And having it is frightening and exhilarating, partly because of the disappearance of walls and structures, so many veils lifted; and if I have it, I must also gift it to everyone in my life. No more grudges, jealousies, feelings of lack.
So these thoughts are in my head and I’ve been trying to capture their forms into words.
Back to yesterday. I donated a big quilt to Occupy SF, I had bought it at a thrift store for Burning Man, stuffed it in a huge pillowcase type thing for a cushy seat, that I never brought out of my tent, since the shade structure wasn’t as large as it was made out to be.
I couldn’t fit it in any bag but a big garbage bag; I couldn’t take a sign, because it would rip the bag, so with a few essentials, holding the squishy bag to my body, I half trotted/ran to the Bart station since I was going to get there about 10 minutes late. I rode into the city with the morning commuters; it’s only a 15 minute trip. I got to the encampment, the quilt went to a young tired young guy, they pointed me in the direction of the march about 2 long blocks away, and in between waiting for lights, I ran to catch up and get in the midst.
Chinese, Filipino, Spanish and English were the languages of the day. There were infants and senior citizens. We basically surrounded Wells Fargo headquarters by picketing at each entrance, 2 main entrances, and 2 back entrances for employees. People sat in front of the doors, and inside the revolving doors, volunteers who planned on being arrested. The rest of us picketed. Around 8:30 is when the eleven people at the employee side door got arrested, they were released a couple hours later and came right back, they were just a few blocks away.
That and the back entrance eventually had a very small presence, we focused on the 2 main customer entrances, no one budged, no one got arrested, no customers got in. We shut the bank down from 9 to 12:30, as planned, then marched around it one more time. There was lots of traffic support, lots of good media coverage. Like most, I took pictures and posted on FB in real time.
For me personally, getting up at 4 because I couldn’t sleep, sipping coffee at home, then sprinting to Bart and then the march, then marching and chanting and singing, well, that’s a lot for an early morning. My head and heart were thrumming with adrenaline and passion and solidarity with so many different people who participated.
I went to a McDonalds a block and a half away a couple times to use the restroom and bought another coffee. I had a banana at some point, and then bought protein bars at a Walgreens. The energy was electrifying, the speakers were amazing. Naomi Klein showed up which was cool.
After the action was done, I walked back to Occupy SF. I really like being there. I also love that I’ve gotten involved while this movement is small because I’m meeting people, I’m meeting my people, we’re all our people I think.
I recognized a guy I had demonstrated with for the last 5 hours and introduced myself and we talked. He’s a software guy, lost his job, very into the movement. We were closest to the Federal Reserve building, standing on the edge of a circle of people who were discussing something intently, in the democratic way of the Occupy movement. Others were sitting around on tarps, the various tables for libraries, food, etc., were south a little, and the people sleeping were closest to Market St.
A new friend I met last week was nearby on a tarp playing his guitar, we waved and he came over and we all sat. I pulled out the sage I had brought for the march but didn’t light, since we were picketing, there wasn’t enough space to really burn it.
We talked and talked about life and the various actions and how the cop that started the aggressiveness last week was paid off to start something. The guy with the guitar is a gifted singer and musician and free spirit with very good energy. He left after a while and the tech guy and I leaned in to the meeting to listen.
They were discussing the letter they had just received from the city. The city was offering them a building, but with the thousands of homeless people in San Francisco who are arrested and moved constantly, they felt that was simply a fear tactic on the city’s part.
There was discussion about permits. Some thought they should apply for a permit for every different aspect the occupation offers, such as a library, food, first aid, etc. But it seems that was dismissed when the person with the letter said that’s not what the city was asking; they could apply for just one permit.
Since they can’t have tents on the sidewalk there is a lot of discussion about moving and scouting out parks. That’s a little sad, because being in front of the Federal Reserve building is amazing, being on Market, the bus drivers beep like crazy every time they go by, which is frequently, drivers honk, it’s a very symbolic place to be, if not totally practical, although the Bart station is right there too.
They discussed staying there which they can do, no one is moving them; they just have to do their cooking away from where the main group of people is and to eliminate wood-things that can burn. When we lit my sage, many people came by and made jokes to my guitar-playing friend about being careful for having a weapon. One of their group is in jail with a $50,000 bail for hitting a cop with sage.
They seemed to decide that a park would be best because they want to be self-governing, not told what they can do. It’s all about participatory democracy. Some felt they can do that on the sidewalk, as it’s their city, public property. But others like the park idea since they’re anticipating more joining the actual occupation.
They had been discussing for 2 hours, intelligent words and ideas coming out of every type of person imaginable, some living there, some donating their time and influence and resources. They passed around a sign-up sheet for those that wanted to answer the letter from the city as it was decided that they wanted to answer all communication whether they agreed to it or not.
The next task was to scout out parks and decide which one they wanted to occupy.
It was very interesting, very powerful and encouraging. It’s not all peace and love, but it is people speaking their truths in turn, respectful of letting each voice be heard.
I really like if not love, being there. I’ll be there often, until I’m working again. I know for a fact if I was 20 years younger I’d be sleeping there a couple nights a week.
Occupy Oakland has a completely different vibe that I am not into on any level. I joined their page on FB but I don’t agree with their actions nor their ‘demands, ‘nor their very high opinion of themselves as an organized group. I don’t want to demonstrate with them either, because of the history of violence; I don’t trust them. My nerves and ethics just don’t fit into that model.
Oakland politics are filthy. The police chief just resigned under pressure from the mayor. People here are so mistrustful of the cops, and the same old voices are saying he resigned just when the occupations occurred, I suppose they think he would have swept them out of the park. I don’t agree, but he’s out now.
The SF group discussed the cop situation and determined the cops on the ground are there to protect them; they’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. It’s the layers of authority above the cops on the ground that they mistrust. I agree wholly with that. It’s nice to see the cops moving slightly to the music and chanting and singing during a protest. They can’t help it. Plus they know which side they’re on.
So for this movement, my heart is in San Francisco.