Inside the occupation - Page 2

With its general assemblies, People's Mic, and chants of 'We are the 99 percent,' OccupySF gains momentum despite a police crackdown

Occupy SF marches through the Financial District on Oct. 5 chanting "Make banks pay" and "We are the 99 percent."

Many participants are determined to stay put. Jreds, a protester who had come from Chico, looked me in the eye and promised, "I'm staying as long as it takes."

When asked his occupation, Jreds replied, "This is our occupation."

After years of foreclosures and unemployment, no wonder so many people are motivated and available to work and sleep at a place like this. Wall Street's unmitigated power has failed to trickle down into economic opportunities for the rest of us, and in this economy, "why don't you just get a job" is starting to sound like "let them eat cake."

As John Reimann, 65, a retired carpenter from Oakland, put it, "I've been waiting 10 years for something like this." He helped start Occupy Oakland last week.

Protester Chris L, who says the community at the camp is the best part about it, also plans to stay indefinitely. Billy Gene Hobbs, a promoter from LA who can often be seen jumping and shouting to keep protest crowds pumped, came to visit San Francisco two weeks ago, found the camp, and hasn't left. Since the police came through, almost 100 more people have joined.

The camp's population is a source of ongoing discussion. Complaints of "too many hippies" usually die quickly when someone actually comes to camp, where the people they're referring to are not the only ones and, moreover, are active and responsible organizers.

Others object that the protest is populated mostly with young people, especially white and male. There is active discussion on how to accommodate people with children as well as people with disabilities.

It seems everyone — including the many people of color, folks of all ages, and disabled people who have been organizers and participants in the movement — shares the view that oppressive institutions work hand in hand with the corporate corruption and power that the movement strives to end.



Camp life is dotted with calls for the People's Mic, a tool developed at Occupy Wall Street, where using bullhorn or speakers is illegal. When someone yells "Mic check!" the crowd echoes in response. The person speaks his piece, sentence by sentence, as the crowd repeats. If a few people nearby can hear him, everyone can. For better or for worse, it tends not to amplify ideas people don't have much taste for; at a recent meeting, when someone insisted that people who had been foreclosed on were greedy and foolish, the People's Mic's volume faded fast.

The People's Mic requires no electricity, discourages rambling, a brilliant improvisation. But the central feature of Occupations throughout the country is the General Assembly. OccupySF has been holding General Assemblies every day at camp at 6 p.m. and on Saturdays at noon in Union Square. In the past week they have consistently boasted a couple hundred participants daily, but continue to practice consensus-based decision-making and participatory democracy. They're long and often frustrating, but for many, as a standard rallying cry insists, "This is what democracy looks like!"

Many have stepped up at meetings to say that too many men, too many white people, or simply too many of the same voices are being heard. Solidarity efforts like Occupy the Hood, which declares the vital need that people of color make decisions and organize in and along with the occupations, have surfaced nationally.

On Oct. 5, after about 700 people marched on the Financial District with OccupySF, the General Assembly was particularly well attended. It was peppered with invitations and expressions of solidarity, conveyed by representatives of groups from throughout the Bay Area.

The week's schedule slowly filled: Thursday's anti-war march, the next day's teach-in with activist Miguel Robles, a 7 am "Wake Up Action" with Unite-HERE Local 2 on Oct. 10, and plans to coordinate with the LGBT rights group Get Equal for a National Coming Out Day action the next day.


I've seen bigger crowds at my neighborhood bar.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 7:20 am

to avoid wetting your pants. But you can't fool other people. Your lying to them on the internet, which readily proves you are a liar.

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 7:38 am

Are you saying that SFBG is lying to us?

FYI, the stock market is up 10% since this started. Looks like us one-percenters are doing just fine.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 7:54 am

8:27 PDT SAN FRANCISCO - A group of nearly 200 protesters is blocking the front door of Wells Fargo Bank's corporate headquarters, slowing downtown traffic and forcing workers to use a side entrance.

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 7:47 am

Hmm, let's see, Bay Area population is about 5 million, so that's 00.02% of us taking part.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 7:56 am

'Guest' this is simply because out of the hundreds of thousands of people in any given city, only a handful will risk arrest in a civil disobedience action.

But just as even a mere letter sent to an elected official represents hundreds of people, and every person actually meeting with that elected official represents thousands; every person taking the personal risk to engage in civil disobedience also represents thousands of people who feel the same way about the issue, but are too busy, personally vulnerable, or timid, to show up themselves.

Again, you are whistling in the dark. And the wolf of democracy is creeping up on you. Prepare to be brought down...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 8:58 am

let alone global capitalism.

The stock market is up 10% since this started, and the markets rarely get these things wrong. This will fizzle out as soon as it gets cold and wet.

200 people? Subtract the "usual suspevcts" who show up for all these events, and it's trivial. A few weeks ago it was BART, today it's this, next it will be something else. People like to whine but, in the end, they also like to eat.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 9:14 am

Did not BART immediately reverse it cellphone signal policy?

Is not BART sweating bullets over its police violence problem.

And the modern stock market is simply a farcical measure of totally overblown artificial debt accumulation. Fake money as illusory bytes on computer hard drives, absurdly and exponentially inflating with no real world justification for that expansion. The 'stock market' has become meaningless to how the economy is actually behaving and whether or not it is succeeding or failing.

Your arguments are weak.

And your resort to petty ridicule shows that your protestations are based in fear.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 9:30 am

I doubt that in practice any of their management will change anything. A few conciliatory words they didn't mean bought you off.

And the stock market anticipates event better than polls or anything else. If the Dow is up 10% that means the smart money is betting against you. So do I.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

So you're wrong again.
BART will never shut down cell phone service again, after the world wide condemnation of their embarrassing and UnAmerican act.

"Linton Johnson, the spokesman — who has been on leave from BART since Anonymous publicized partially nude photos of him in mid-August — suggested the shutdown."
"Johnson did not return a call seeking comment. Allison, the spokesman, said he didn’t know whether Johnson would be returning."
Source: The Bay Citizen (

This article, published this morning demonstrates that you are also lying when you say everyone's forgotten the BART issue.
What's it like to be on the wrong side of the truth nearly 100% of the time?
Does it pleasure you somehow?

Posted by Meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

They can say anything and still do anything.

You've been played.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

Desperately trying to cling to any vile argument you can to invalidate what is now a global movement encompassing hundreds of thousands of active protestors, and likely millions who silently support.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

99% are getting on with their lives with no delusion that they are going to overthrow capitalism.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

That's not what this world wide movement is about.
Thanks for playing, though.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

Really 'Guest'?

This poll says otherwise; that New Yorkers support the Occupy protests 3 to 1.

Looks like you are the fool, on the wrong side of history.

Take a look:

Posted by 'anonymous' on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 9:09 am

Deputy police chief: "I like this idea. Can anyone think of a downside?"
Source: The Bay Citizen (

Posted by Meatlock on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 10:13 am

Instead of turning away food donations from the public, try contacting the SF Food bank to see if there is any way they could help you deal with the excess.

And if the SF Food Bank, can help.. please encourage people to donate even MORE food.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

"Many participants are determined to stay put. Jreds, a protester who had come from Chico, looked me in the eye and promised, "I'm staying as long as it takes.""

This is some of the most earnestly horrible writing. I know one of the "demands" is free college education. If the end result is even more Sac State journalism majors on the loose, I think I'll count myself as one of the 1%.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 5:13 am

Support occupy SF! Support law and order and jail the Wall street gangsters and all the corrupt democrat and republican politicians who aided and abetted the looting of America!

Posted by GuestSf T Party on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 10:17 am

Thanks for this piece and the inside look at our local efforts. A minor FYI: People's Mic has been used since before Occupy Wall Street. I remember using it during anti-war protests in 2003, and I'll bet it goes back at least 10-20 years before that. Anyone have background info on this?

I think it's important to acknowledge that while the surge in support is new, effective organizing and some of the more targeted lock-down actions would not have been possible without the years of grueling work carried out by organizers in previous decades, when the economy was booming and fewer people cared about others in the worst situations. Consensus process, people's mic, facilitation skills, and other tools have been handed down to us by our predecessors.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

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