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(en) US, San Francisco, A Veiw from the Reclaimed Streets - Pictures at: http://www.indybay.org

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 15 Feb 2004 23:37:19 +0100 (CET)


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Being that I am from a mostly isolated and small town in the
Central Valley, I usually watch sf.indymedia and indybay.org with
longing eyes. But when the organizational collective for "Occupied
Territory" I work with called a meeting before "Reclaim the
Streets", I knew that I had to go, (no literally, I HAD to go).
Arriving at the edge of Golden Gate park at around 12 noon, at the
complete end of Haight Street, I saw about only 50-60 people. Many had took the
call for pirate wear, and a festival of "reclaim the streets, reclaim your heart
arrr!", to 'heart' and come in full pirate gear. Stilt walkers, scally wags, and
a couple of pirate ships with cannons appeared to the delight of many.

By the time that SF Food Not Bombs started feeding around 12:30,
about 200 people had assembled. The crowd was mostly young, I
would guess between 17-20, but a fair number of older people with
smiling faces were also in the group. Organizers passed out
booklets on what Reclaim the Streets is, and also information
about the police. A flyer was also handed out asking for those who
wished to show solidarity with anarcho-feminism to please march
under the black flag with the (A) and female symbol. Gay Shame, a
anti-capitalist queer group was also out in force with a large
banner that read something like "Queers Revolt Against Consumer
Slavery" (or something to that affect).

At the time that a contingent of people called for a meeting for
anyone interested in breakaway to Safeway to support the
workers, about 400-500 had assembled in the park. Black anarchist
flags (many with hearts on them), were to be seen through out the
park, and there was no mistaking that this was largely an anarchist
event. About 1/3 of the crowd appeared to be masked up or in black
bloc, about another 1/3 was in pirate gear, and another to have no
fashion affiliation. I would be lying to say that the majority of the
people participating were not white, but there seemed to be a good
amount of POC and womyn. I also witnessed a mother drop off
three younger women, I replied, "Only in San Francisco can a mom
drop her kids off at a protest"..."If you smash any Gap windows
make sure you clean up the glass"...

At 1pm we were off! About 10 motor bike cops appeared, and
without much concern rode ahead of us. On lookers look on, and
many of them asked, "What is this for?" Some joined us, and as the
hundreds poured into the street, Haight became shut down. A huge
sound system, pumping out high energy techno was being pulled by
several DJs, and paused for a moment about a block up. A few
chants were started but hardly anyone could hear over the sound of
the music.

According to indybay.org, the GAP store a couple of blocks up was
splashed with paint, and a chant was started, "Come off of the
sidewalks, and into the street!"

At this point I was pretty close to front of the march, and I could
see up ahead that a beat up looking "hippy" bus was now somehow
in the middle of the street. Later I learned that probably someone
put the bus in the middle of the street at just the right time. Several
people climbed atop the bus and waved black flags with hearts on
them, and a banner was placed on it that read, "Reclaim the
Streets". Now stopping around the bus, the cops now had us pretty
well contained. We were blocked off about 100 feet in front of the
bus, and about 100 feet in back of the bus.

Radical cheer leaders started different cheers with their red and
black pom poms, and a Reclaim the Streets marching band began
playing. Chalk was distributed, and in a matter of minutes the
streets were covered with colored fossilized sea creatures.
Several streets signs were placed in front of the bus, with RTS
stenciled on them. A huge banner, spanning the width of the street
was almost placed in between two poles reading, "Reclaim the
Streets", but was foiled by SFPD. Many shoppers and onlookers
simply sat down on the side walk to observe or went into the
crowd and enjoyed themselves. Derek Grey on indybay.org wrote
about the Haight St. shutdown and said this:

"At least three outbound #7 buses were stalled at Haight and
Masonic unable to proceed further. Both the #6 and #43 buses
either maintained their routes or found alternates. The #43 is an
especially important lines for communiting health care workers and
patients of UCSF Medical Center."

After about an hour of standing in one place, I was starting to
wonder if just reclaiming one block was the best we could do.
According to others, the cops had stated that if the party moved up
or down the street people would be arrested. While it's nice to be
in a town that will allow you to freely interact on a part of a street,
but if we were going to go a couple of blocks and stop are we really
accomplishing that much? Some people that I encountered by about
2pm were saying things like, "Time to get fucked up and drunk!",
and "Where's the weed". This is fine, I’m not on the sXe jihad
but my own personal feelings about connecting with public space
do not included getting messed up, but to each their own. Myself I
had driven over and hour for this, and wasn't going to end this
experience dazed in a gutter and singing garbled versions of
"Against Me!" songs.

At around 2:15 however, activists representing "Direct Action to
Stop the War" passed out flyers for a breakaway march to a "near
by" Safeway to support the striking workers in Southern California,
and the non-striking workers in Northern California. After the
music was turned down, some people spoke, including myself
because they shoved a megaphone in my hand, and in a couple of
minutes we were marching again. If my memory serves me, I asked
for people to take the march to Safeway and something to the
effect of “We’ve Reclaimed the Streets, Now let’s
reclaim the means of production!” While a Safeway store really
isn’t an place that actually produces things, people seemed to
agree and cheered, and/or said “Aaarr!!!”

About 2/3 to 1/2 of the party was in tow, including most of the
black bloc looking anarchists, and the marching band was soon
striking up a tune. As the band began to play, a rousing chant of
"The Boss Needs Us, We Don't Need the Boss" began, to which
some people on Haight started cheering. One stilt walker and
several bikers/skateboarders zoomed ahead us the march at
various times. The police who looked as if they seen it all, acted as
if they expected this to happen, and did their best to stay ahead of
us and make sure traffic was blocked.

We hit the end of Haight Street and started towards Fulton.
Chants of "Who's Streets..ARrrrr Streets!", and "Make Capitalism
Walk the Plank!" were screamed in full pirate fashion. Once on
Fulton, four lanes were taken over, and pro-strike and
anti-Safeway chants were chanted, along with the classics eluding
to class war, revolution, and state smashing. Some people honked
their horns in approval, some rolled up their windows, while more
rolled their eyes.

Approaching the Safeway on 7th Street, it was clear that it wasn't
just us who had decided to crash Safeway's party. About 10 cops
lined both drive ways, and more were up at the entrance of the
store. As the sounds of "Safeway - No Way!" grew louder and
louder as we approached, the manager(?) came out with the "Fuck
not again!" face that only bosses can give.

With the cops not approaching us, or making us leave, but
obviously not allowing us to enter the store, we were at a
standstill. We also had to keep in mind that the workers inside
were not scabs, but non-striking workers, so our tactics had to
reflect this. People representing Direct Action to Stop the War
grabbed a megaphone and talked about the conditions of the strike,
the threat of lost health care of the workers in the
Vons/Safeway/Albertson's chain, and the Walmartization of
America's workforce. They also presented several Valentines Day
cards made for Safeway workers that read, "We Support You", and
one for management reading, "Safeway! - You're Breaking Our
Hearts!" Various other speakers took the mike, and after one
masked spirited individual finished talking, asked if half of the
crowd could block the other side of the Safeway entrance. About
40 people took action and soon the entire Safeway store was
blocked off.

At this time, I had to start my long walk back to the Market St.
BART, and had to leave. As myself and my friend headed back, we
came across the rest of the RTS party, still about 200 strong
marching back down Haight street. According to one participant
they were marching back to the park to party in the park.
According to the indybay site, the Safeway contingent stayed for
about an hour more, and then marched back to the park
themselves.

All in all I would say that RTS! was very successful. The
organizers were up against odds of police harassment got together
a pretty large street party simply with the help of flyers, indymedia,
and through friends talking. While it would have been nice to
continue the party further, it was encouraging to be in a place
where the cops had made the decision that it was better to
basically let the protestors have the street that to get us off of it.
Also, my hat goes off to DASW who organized people to take the
heat to Safeway. Although RTS! is made to be a celebration, and
not a protest per say, it was nice to make something out of the
celebration and show our solidarity with workers in struggle. It
was also nice to allow free association and have two street parties
go on, which I'm sure the cops did not expect, (or did they?...).

As I drove home I went over the days events, smoking a fatty,
driving recklessly into other lanes, and singing in a slurred voice,
"If Florida takes, ...we're taking everyone down with us..."

Link: http://www.indybay.org
====================================
Copied from infoshop.org


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