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Media pundits have often tried to point out the similarities between the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, in a futile attempt to get the two groups to merge. Unfortunately, the differences were too great, and we have yet to see the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street protesting against the same thing side-by-side at the same protest.

That is, until now.

The unthinkable finally happened last night in San Francisco: the Tea Party shared a protest with the Occupiers, both groups angry with the same person.

And who was this unifier, the only man who can bridge the divide and bring together all sides of the political spectrum? Why, President Obama, of course.

He ping-ponged across San Francisco on Thursday, February 16, hosting a series of high-end fundraisers that netted him somewhere near $4 million, by some estimates. I tailed him all day, and will present photos from each of his stops. But we’ll start with what was in fact the final event, on Nob Hill at the Masonic Auditorium, because that’s where all the protesters congregated. Photos from the day’s earlier events are found in the second half of the report, below.

Protest Outside the Obama Fundraiser, Masonic Auditorium, San Francisco


Here it is: proof! All three kinds of protesters, together at last. On the left (appropriately), an Occupier angry at Obama for not being sufficiently left-wing, and promising not to vote for Obama unless he stops enforcing federal drug laws. And on the right, a Tea Partier who thinks Obama is too left-wing. And in the middle, a rare find at such events, an Obama supporter who thinks he’s “just right.”

Now everybody link arms and sing along with me: “Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya….


Sadly, however, it was not to be. For although the Tea Party and the Occupiers were both at the same event protesting against Obama, this was no lovefest. Mutual distrust and disdain still divided the two camps, who also for the most part kept to opposite ends of the police-designated protest zone. Here we can see the Occupy end of the zone, with a wall of police keeping them away from the long line of Obama donors filing into the Masonic Auditorium across the street.


Everybody lived up to expectations. The Occupiers were, well, Occupiers, as you can see from this sign.


And the local Tea Party was also out in force for the first time in at least a year.


(Photo courtesy of Larry in SF.)
I had arrived at the protest after dark, having spent the earlier part of the day following Obama around to other fundraisers. But fellow citizen photojournalist “Larry in SF” was there when the protest first started in the afternoon, and snapped several photos that captured the extent and enthusiasm of the Tea Party crowd. (Unofficial estimates from various people I talked to: About 200 Tea Partiers, and 150 Occupiers.)


(Photo courtesy of Larry in SF.)
Many of the Tea Partiers wore giant foam “Nobama” fingers, which they waved in unison for a particularly photogenic effect.


(Photo courtesy of Larry in SF.)
Local Tea Party doyenne Sally Zelikovsky led the finger-wagging cheers. The idea came from this article in the SFWeekly, which said that after Jan Brewer wagged her finger in Obama’s face last month, “Obama Coming to San Francisco, Where Nobody Will Wag Their Fingers in His Face.”

(Hungry for more? “Larry in SF” has plenty more photos from the daytime protest posted on his blog.)

The Occupiers had their own chants as well. This video from later in the evening records two of them. The first one:

“The system has got to die, hella hella Occupy!”

The second Occupy chant reveals that there was no love lost between the two protest groups:

“Hey Tea Party, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side.”


The Occupiers this time around seemed unified around a single theme, one of the few policy areas where Obama hasn’t even tried to mollify his base: legalizing marijuana. Most of the Occupy protesters had pot-themed signs. As for the Occupier in the middle with the “Teach” sign: That’s what I’m worried about!


And they weren’t just carrying signs. Seemingly half the Occupiers were openly smoking marijuana at the protest, like this guy who kept bogarting his joint. But since they most likely all had their fraudulently obtained “medical marijuana” cards, the cops just let them get away with it.

One of the people on the Tea Party side emailed me after the protest with this first-hand account:

“Many of us actually got sick from the dope smoke…yeah, wimpy TPers…but I’m serious, they were blowing it over at us on purpose. At one point I mentioned to the young smokers, “Hey, I thought you guys were all about clean air? Your killing my carbon footprint.” BTW, w/ all of the medical cannabis signs, I didn’t see too many people who looked sickly. Mostly young and healthy OWS types.

Let’s take a look at two protesters who fulfilled everyone’s assumptions:


The typical Occupier.


The typical Tea Partier.

Now let’s look at two signs that fulfilled everyone’s assumptions:


Typical Occupy sign with way too many words. (“California could generate thousands of jobs and trillions of dollars through a multitude of green industrie!!!“)


(Photo courtesy of Larry in SF.)
Typical Tea Party sign with way too many words.(“Take your Marxism and shove it!!!“)

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