For all the hype about Tax Day Tea Parties, include two in San Francisco this afternoon, it was progressive causes that put the most protesters on the streets today. In fact, at a 1 p.m. Tea Party outside City Hall, the teabaggers were way outnumbered by journalists and satirical “teabaggers” doing street theater.
For awhile, 70-year-old Al Anolik – clad in his American flag shirt and NRA hat – was the only teabagger present, although he was joined by 23-year-old Odell Howard (wearing his American flag on his hat) at about 1:20 p.m. Another pair arrived later, making it four in all.
“It is San Francisco,” Anolik offered by way of explaining the anemic gathering.
Contrast that with two other rallies going on at the same time: Service Employees International Union fielding about 200 protesters on Mission Street near the federal building demanding immigration reform and respect for immigrants, and about 100 people who turned out for the Mobilization for Climate Justice, protesting a conference on carbon offsets.
“Nobody should be given credit for creating greenhouse gas emissions,” Ana Orozco, an organizer for Communities for a Better Environment, Richmond, told the gathering.
CBE was one of several groups demonstrating on Fourth Street outside the Marriott, which was hosting New Direction for Climate Action, put on by Navigating the American Carbon World, a group that promotes a cap-and-trade market for pollution credits.
The protesters said that system would only legitimize pollution and delay the strong actions needed to avert the worst impacts of global warming. “Keep the cap, nix the trade,” the group chanted at one point.
I asked one conference attendee (who wouldn’t give his name) what he thought of the protesters and he called them, “watermelons – green on the outside and red on the inside.” Longtime progressive activist Chris Carlsson said accusing someone of being a communist has always been tactic capitalists use to shut down real debate on important issues.
Anolik and Howard were also quick to play the red card, accusing the Obama administration of plotting to take away people’s guns and instituting a government takeover of the health care system, and neither would listen to arguments that their claims were demonstrably false.
But the progressives on the street today were all about sparking debate, including two members of the Raging Grannies that were at the climate event and then headed over to the Tea Party, where they satirically advocated for a health care system run by wealthy corporations.
“Billionaires for Wealthcare,” was the sign one held, while the other’s read, “Blue Cross, Palin, 2012,” advocating that we cut out the middle man and elect Blue Cross as the next president, with Sarah Palin as its running mate.
And then they broke into the song “We shall overcome,” but with a modified chorus: “We shall overcharge.”