SAN FRANCISCO — Shortly after the Occupy Wall Street protesters marched in New York, the San Francisco offshoot gathered its own occupiers and sympathizers outside the Federal Reserve building to march at the lunch hour.
Several hundred people joined the band of 50 or so actual occupiers who’ve been living in tents on the street since Sept. 17 and marched down Market Street through San Francisco’s financial district.
In the spirit of the egalitarian and leaderless movement, the route and the march protocol was decided on the fly by consensus of all the protesters. A group of occupiers, aided by a megaphone, led a call-and-response chat with the people assembled.
One protester, sporting a fedora adorned with a peacock feather, asked the crowd to decide if the protest would follow the law by staying on the sidewalks or if the protesters should take to the streets. (They abided by the law). When police offered to provide an escort, the crowd chorused a “Thank you.” Another women proposed to alter the route by a block in order to pass a Bank of America (The protesters cheered and adopted the plan).
People from all walks of life converged to march. Representatives from National Nurses United passed out printed signs to suburban moms and working stiffs who had the day off. Stephen Kattlen, 46, a self-professed die-hard Democrat, came to stand up to injustice. “The heart of it is that the income gap between the rich and the poor has never been greater,” he said. “I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner.”
Occupiers spread the word about the march through old-fashioned flyering and through social media. David Johnson, a 30-year-old flight attendant, saw a flyer in the Castro, then helped recruit friends on Facebook. “I’m sick of corporate greed,” he said. Johnson was inspired by his parents, small business owners in his native Boston, who, he says, pay an exorbitant amount for health insurance. He was also infuriated by the arrests of some 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York.
Another protester described why he’s so furious with the state of our country:
Protesters marched for more than an hour, passing big bank buildings, blocking traffic and chanting “We got sold out! They got bailed out!” Tonight, it’ll be back to normal for the die-hard occupiers. They’ll be sleeping in their makeshift camp and organizing the rest of us until they think the job is done.
Photo credit: Laura Burge