Despite claims of a "general strike," business, except for ferries, carried on as usual. As recently as a Sunday, Occupiers were promising major May Day events like occupying and closing the Golden Gate Bridge. They were going to have early morning buses drive protesters from several staging areas to the bridge. At the civic center staging area, a mere 20 occupiers showed up. The bridge rally was canceled entirely supposedly in favor of supporting union picket lines. Picket lines at San Francisco locations, however, appeared sparsely manned. The Occupiers did manage to disrupt some traffic downtown and further vandalize the city (beyond what they did last night). They had some assistance in this from City Hall: the police were under orders to "facilitate" Occupier activities. The facilitation did stop briefly when one Occupier started throwing bricks at people, leading to his arrest on felony charges of aggravated assault.
Let us start with the pre-event hype which claimed that the Occupiers would stop a major traffic artery:
They even registered the URL occupythebridge.org for this. This plan collapsed when the bridge workers union pleaded with them not to stop bridge traffic. Apparently, the union didn't think that it was a good plan to make enemies with the 100,00 commuters who use the bridge.
The Occupiers then decided to focus May Day activities on picket lines against the Golden Gate ferries. The ferry service preemptively suspended service that morning, making protests superfluous.
The first big event of May Day was the 10:00am march through the San Francisco's Mission district in support of illegal immigration. 300 or so protesters attended. After Monday's night's vandalism, there was a strong police presence and I saw no disturbances. I may post some photos from this rally at a later time.
At noon in the financial district, the occupiers held the major Occupy rally of the day, billed as a "People’s Street Festival." As the rally started, Occupiers held up banners across streets to stop traffic. Here, two occupiers explain to a truck driver that they won't let him through and, to get out, he will have to back up for most of a city block (click on any photo to enlarge it):
After they gained control of the streets, the occupiers started to paint slogans on the asphalt, as shown here:
You might wonder where were the police during such an overt act of vandalism? They were standing by watching. They were there in large numbers. Here is one of many lines of police vans present that the rally:
The police had riot helmets in hand but did nothing. A policeman told me that no permits for the rally, for the bullhorns, or for blocking streets, let alone vandalizing them, had been issued but that, to his displeasure, the police were under orders to do nothing except "facilitate."
These orders are not particularly surprising here. In San Francisco, when the occupiers speak, the Board of Supervisors listens.
The police did facilitate. Rather than try to re-open busy city streets, here are two policemen who parked their motorcycles in front of an Occupy banner to assist the Occupiers in stopping traffic:
The sound system arrived by truck courtesy of SEIU Local 87:
SEIU has a lot of power in California. They decide elections, literally: in many California counties, ballots are counted by SEIU workers.
This festival had a lot of street theater. Here, a flag with a big "99%" written on it is raised and lowered by the crowd:
Here a puppet is being assembled:
Below, a lesbian performance group tries to tame "the beast of capitalism":
As is typical of San Francisco rallies, nominally mainstream groups mix freely with the extreme left. The latter are represented below by the banner supporting the (Marxist) PSL (Party for Socialism and Liberation) and the flag celebrating Che Guevara.
The Tea Party has been criticized for using the "militant" Gadsden flag, even leading to legal cases as liberals have tried to force its removal from public display. Consequently, I was surprised to find the Gadsden flag on display at the Occupy rally without repercussion. It was held by a man in an anarchist t-shirt:
The t-shirt, by the way, reads "Live like Jesus, die like him."
Tea Parties have also been criticized for having people dressing up in "silly" costumes. This even led to Glenn Beck recommending to Tea Partiers that, in order to be taken more seriously, they stop wearing costumes. Liberal marchers have never have such concerns. For that matter, you can see below one of the Occupiers dressed in the revolutionary era garb that is so favored at Tea Parties:
Below are two protesters holding signs proclaiming May 1st to be a day of "general strike" with "no work, no school, no housework, don't bank, don't buy":
By the standard of a "general strike," May Day in San Francisco was a failure. Overwhelmingly, business went on a usual. Not that businesses didn't try to be prepared. Some appeared to have a bit more security than normal, such as this Bank of America branch with two security guards standing outside:
Is that not a nice irony: a call for "no work" under a May Day "general strike" leads to increased work on May Day as businesses hire extra guards?
UPDATE: Zombie has videos of the SF Occupier throwing bricks at bystanders. See also Moonbattracker.
RELATED: The story of police complicity of the Occupiers previous takeover of the building at 888 Turk is here.
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