Occupy is back -- with horns and glitter

An energetic day of action shows that the movement is very much alive

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Occupy protesters block bank entrances on Jan. 20
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY LUKE THOMAS

yael@sfbg.com

On Jan. 20, hundreds of activists converged on the Financial District in a day that showed a reinvigorated and energized Occupy movement.

The day of action was deemed "Occupy Wall Street West." Despite pouring rain, the numbers swelled to 1,200 by early evening.

Critics have said that the Occupy movement is disorganized and lacks a clear message. Some have decried its supposed lack of unity. Others have even declared it dead.

But the broad coalition of community organizations that came together to send a message focused on the abuses of housing rights by corporations and the 1 percent sent a clear message:

The movement is very much alive.

 

A FULL SCHEDULE

Protesters packed the day with an impressive line-up of marches, pickets, flash mobs, blockades, and everything in between.

The action began at 6:30 a.m., when dozens chained and locked themselves together, blocking every entrance to Wells Fargo's West Coast headquarters at 420 Montgomery Street. The bank didn't open for business that morning.

Another group of protesters did the same thing at the Bank of America Building around the corner. A dozen blockaded one of the bank's entrances from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., preventing its opening. A group organized by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) closed down the Bank of America branch at Powell and Market for several hours.

The Bank of America branch at Market and Main was also closed when activists turned it into "the Food Bank of America." Several chained themselves for the door, while others set up a table serving donated food to hundreds of people.

Meanwhile, activists with the SF Housing Rights Coalition and Tenants Union occupied the offices of Fortress Investments, a hedge fund that has overseen the destruction of thousands of rent controlled apartments at Parkmerced. Direct actions also took place at the offices of Bechtel, Goldman Sachs, and Citicorp.

Hundreds picketed the Grand Hyatt at Union Square in solidarity with UNITE HERE Local 2 hotel workers.

A group of about 600 left from Justin Herman Plaza at noon and marched to offices of Fannie Mae, Wells Fargo, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) in a protest meant to draw attention to housing and immigrant-rights issues.

"It's not just a corporate problem. The government has been complicit in these abuses as well," said Diana Masaca, one of the protest's organizers.

More than 100 activists from People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER) and the Progressive Workers Alliance "occupied Muni," riding Muni buses on Market Street with signs and chants demanding free transit for youth in San Francisco.

Another 200 participated in an "Occupy the Courts" action at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in protest of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and corporate personhood.

 

GLITTER AND BRASS

Exhausted, soaked protesters managed to keep a festive spirit throughout the day, with colorful costumes, loud music, and glitter — lots of glitter.

The Horizontal Alliance of Very Organized Queers (HAVOQ) and Pride at Work brought the sparkly stuff, along with streamers and brightly colored umbrellas, to several different actions. Many painted protest slogans onto their umbrellas, proclaiming such sentiments as "I'll show you trickle down" and "Not gay as in happy, queer as in fuck capitalism."

According to protester Beja Alisheva, "HAVOQ is about bringing fabulosity to the movement with glitter, queerness, and pride. All day we've been showing solidarity between a lot of different types of oppression."

There was also the Occupy Oakland party bus — a decked-out former AC transit bus — and carnival, a roving party that shut down intersections and bank entrances in its path while providing passengers a temporary respite from rain.

Comments

So you marched around for a while, tried and ultimately failed tot ake over an abandoned building, got a bunch of yourselves arrested, and somehow that's going to change the world?

Don't think so. It's just a ragbag of the usual activist suspects with a new brand name.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 26, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

Nothing going on here. Just keep shopping.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

Cheers to the hundreds of people who demonstrated your commitment, creativity, and willingness to work hard (and get wet!) in order to improve our wonderful but flawed city! Thank you for being out there on behalf of so many more of us. It's wonderful to hear of so many creative protests, so many different ways people are expressing their anger at the abuses of these banks.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 26, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

Well, it's funny how change happens--and it's funny what people notice and don't.
It's usually hand fulls, then arm fulls of "ragbag" folks trying different things and some times things do change and sometimes we learn and try something different-- and it is rarely on prime time. The fact is, four homeowners have not been kicked out of their homes by banks and one groups of tenants will not get kicked out as a result of the efforts of Occupy SF Housing Coalition in the last month. The Occupy Wall St West action in the rain was just a effort to see what we could do together with a wide group of the 99% in the heart of corporate power in the Western US.

Posted by Guest pre-occupation on Jan. 26, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

I think the graffiti all over the CMPC building more eloquently distills the Bay Area Occupy movement better than any article. It reads :

"Health Care
Fuck Pigs"

Stay Classy, Occupy.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 26, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

Audio of voices of the 99% from OWSW J20 at http://bit.ly/x3eJXQ . They taken back what's right!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2012 @ 12:17 am

Right on Occupy West! Wish you were back east with me in Asheville, where the GREEDY, RICH WITH TAXPAYER BILLIONS, SUPER POWER MONGER OUT OF CONTROL - WELLS FARGO BANK is taking my tiny little (less than 400 sq ft) home from me, illegally, after running me into the ground for TWO LONG YEARS, and causing me to lose EVERYTHING. I would love for you to block MY doors - to keep them away from me. Unless this "Independent Foreclosure Review" does something (doubtful at this point) soon, I'll be out in the street in less than three weeks, with nothing; no job, no money and nowhere to go. After all, Hells Fargo just HAS to have my little house back, too, to add to those BILLIONS of dollars our government (stole from us and) gave to them. That's just not enough... they want EVERYTHING WE OWN NOW, TOO!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2012 @ 4:50 am

sit in any bankruptcy court and listen to the endless trail of witless debtors who blame everyone for their problems except themselves.

We don't have a mortgage problem in the US. We have a personal responsibility problem.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2012 @ 11:38 am

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