Story by Nena Farrell, photos by Ariel Soto-Suver
“We’re mad as hell, and we’re not taking it anymore!” was Tanya Dennis’s cry yesterday (Thurs/6) afternoon at a march and rally that drew from the Occupy San Francisco/Occupy Wall Street and the anti-war movements. It began at the Federal Building at Mission and 7th streets, where protesters will return today at 4:30 pm for a march marking the 10th anniversary of the war against Afghanistan.
Dennis got the crowd to scream the words with her, chanting it. Because it’s true—they’re not taking it anymore. She was one of the many featured speakers at the protest, along with representatives from OccupySF, the California Democratic Party, the American Indian Movement, and so many more. There were also sections of open microphones, where people could stand up to make a proposal, or usually just to make a point.
One of the open speakers proposed we free people. She had the entire gathering call it out with her: “Free people, free people.”
That’s one of the four demands that the 99 percent – the people that the occupiers say they represent – is making. One, to protect the environment. Two, to care for the people. Three, to tax the rich. And four, to end the wars. These are the four demands of the movement. At the protest, these four demands were posted on multiple signs.
The protest was in solidarity with the anti-war action in Washington DC. And from DC, the event had Dick Cheney – or rather, an impersonator of the former vice president – here to open the event. Upon his arrival, he was booed, but Cheney himself seemed fairly pleased with the entire situation. He joked that he brought three virgin hearts with him in case he was shot.
After the speakers, the protest moved to march down to 101 Market Street, where Occupy San Francisco has its movement encampment. The group moved down the blocks, chanting “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!” Each time they came to a bank along Market Street, the entire group would stop and cry together “Make banks pay” and “Tax the rich.”
It was the speakers, overall, that brought the real power to the event. They described the madness the working class was facing, the entire country and our state, and even the outside countries that we have both declared and undeclared wars on. And not just by the selected featured speakers, but also the ones like Sheila Gun Cushman, a blind woman who spoke up during the open speakers, saying “We have wanted this for years, it’s about bleepin’ time!”
Janet Weil, a Code Pink activist, was moved by the speakers as well: “[The] testimony of people at open mike was very powerful and important.”