Occupy Oakland changed the name of Frank Ogawa Plaza; it's time for OccupySF to do the same.
The place where the protesters are gathered is named for Justin Herman, the notorious director of San Francisco's Redevelopment Agency in the terrible days of the 1950s and 1960s, when "redevelopment" meant removing black people from the Western Addition and removing poor people, particularly Filipinos, from South of Market and later the International Hotel. Herman once famously said that the SOMA land where he wanted to build hotels was "too valuable to permit poor people to park on it."
In the 1960s, the battle against redevelopment was one of the defining political struggles in San Francisco, bringing Asians, African Americans, white progressives, young community organizers, affordable housing and tenant activists, poverty and civil rights lawyers ... just about the whole spectrum of the city's left. It's been the subject of books and movies. The people who fought Justin Herman are part of a long political thread in San Francisco -- as is OccupySF today.
I've always thought it was an abomination to have a downtown plaza named after a guy who did so much to destroy San Francisco. Maybe from now on we should all call it Scott Olsen Plaza.
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