OccupySF is worth the investment

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Thirteen labor and community leaders wrote to Mayor Ed Lee Nov. 17 asking him not to evict the OccupySF protesters. The message of the hand-delivered letter: It's worth the time and effort the city will have to make to allow the encampment to remain. It was signed by Conny Ford, OPEIU Local 3, Bob Offer-Westord, Coalition on Homelessness, Pilar Sciavo, California Nurses Association, Elizabeth Alexander, SEIU 1021, Rev. Carol Been, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Steve Williams, POWER, Gabriel Haaland, SEIU 1021, Tim Paulson, San Francisco Labor Council, Kate Huge, La Raza Centro Legal, Gordon Mar, Jobs with Justice, Forrest Schmidt, ANSWER, Shaw-San Liu, Chinese Progressive Association, and Mike Casey, UNITED-HERE Local 2.

Here's the full letter:

Dear Mr. Mayor:

Occasionally a movement takes hold of the imagination of a people, resulting in major social and economic shifts in public policy. Thirty to forty years ago, such a movement driven by a coalition of the religious right and corporate America and spearheaded by the National Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, changed the course of our nation for the worse.

With the election of Ronald Reagan and scores of corporate-backed politicians since then, our nation has seen a reversal of the progressive gains made in the decades immediately preceding 1980, from the New Deal to the War on Poverty.

In yesterday’s meeting, you and several city department heads questioned whether it is “worth the investment” to meet and work with the SF Occupy movement to address certain health and safety issues. We think it is.

The national Occupy Wall Street movement has brought dramatic focus to the disproportionate concentration of wealth and power held by the top 1% of America.  They have drawn broad attention to the devastation wrought by Wall Street upon communities throughout the country:  home foreclosures, record unemployment, attacks on immigrants, union busting, school closures, social service cutbacks, etc.

Over the years, in our own city, a number of legendary movements and causes have led to meaningful and lasting progressive change. The 1934 General Strike and the I-Hotel are but two examples. These and other struggles such as the Civil Rights movement are iconic not based on whether they resulted in victory or defeat, but because these struggles inspired and trained a new generation of organizers and activists committed to economic and social change.

Whether the Occupy movement is helping usher in yet another shift remains to be seen. But of this we are certain: the City of San Francisco working with Occupy SF to support their vision and work is “worth the investment.”

Provocative police actions in Oakland resulted in unnecessary injuries and threatened the very safety of the community they’ve sworn to protect.

We appeal that you not shut down the occupation of Justin Herman Plaza and continue to meet, daily if necessary, in order to work through the issues connected with Occupy SF.