Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

Thousands Join Occupy Protests in San Francisco and Oakland

Oct 16 - SF Bay Area. Thousands took to the streets in San Francisco and Oakland on Saturday, October 15, as part of an international day of protest. In San Francisco a crowd estimated by the local Pacifica station to be about 3,000 walked from the Occupy encampment in front of the Federal Reserve Bank to the Civic Center where a rally was held. In Oakland, the rally of several hundred at the City Hall plaza included the mayors of Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond as well as actor and activist Danny Glover.

In both places the crowds were diverse—all ages, nationalities and professions. People were excited that so many people had come out for the day. For many it seemed to be their first time at a protest or march. The emphasis on the international character of the day brought out people from other countries—France, Italy, Germany, Iran. One Iranian woman said she hears so many stories of people losing their homes through foreclosures, getting laid off after working many years, increasingly difficult situations around getting health care and mental health care. She commented that this bad picture is "not in accordance at all with what the government says this system is about—freedom and justice for all." The whole idea that there is a way out of this through revolution and there is a leader to get us there really moved her. She got a copy of BAsics to begin learning about this leader and wants to be part of the movement for revolution we are building.

Danny Glover and others said the movement needs to be bigger, that the day was good, but that it needs to grow and who knows how far it will go. What was happening Saturday, he said, was about humanity and treating people like human beings. That sentiment was echoed in a home-made sign in S.F. that said: "A new system is being born—All over the planet the people will be respected." One young man told us that "this is back to the roots. This is like the 70s again. This is cool." Others compared the day to Woodstock.

In Oakland, the encampment on the City Hall plaza is made up of about 70 tents (in S.F. tents have not been allowed). Most are young people who are wrangling day and night over what is the problem and solution. An "alternative" community is being set up there as in other Occupy sites with a library, food, first aid areas as well as their own security. Many say they are clear that capitalism is the problem but not so clear on the solution. And there is great openness to learn about what BA is saying, to engage, and BAsics was sold broadly.

On Saturday there were many new people from all walks of life who were coming to S.F. and to the Oakland encampment to check it out -- unemployed youth and workers, some professionals, City College students. It really attracted supportive curiosity from all kinds of people. October 22-NDP organizers [National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation] were there and one young man who has been part of the Oakland encampment from the beginning has been organizing people to be part of NDP on October 22. Some Occupy Oakland protesters signed a banner that said "Occupy Oakland fighters support the People from Bayview Hunters Point to Fight the Power." One comment on the banner was "stop hiding unemployed people in prison."

Many people we talked to thought the problem was the politicians being bought off by the corporations. Others thought capitalism was the problem while others said capitalism was fine but it wasn’t working well. We showed one person the BAsics quote about how there is no right to eat under capitalism and how it would fall apart if there were such a right. He didn’t agree but eagerly engaged with us. People seem to be open and excited to be talking about these topics -- as though a kind of dam burst and their thoughts and frustrations about the way things are come pouring out. One young man said the problem was that ‘we’re not organized; the banks own us; most of my friends are $20K in debt." There was a current throughout of disillusionment with Obama, and an often expressed demand to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many signs talked of revolution and thought what was happening in the streets the past month is the revolution. And many said they think this movement can continue to grow.

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