San Failcisco: Occupy Anniversary Rally Flops in SF
The Occupy Wall Street movement celebrated its one-year anniversary on Monday, September 17 with birthday rallies in various cities around the country. The "party" in San Francisco only served to remind everyone how pointless, futile, disgusting and irrelevant Occupy has been from the very start.
Unstoppable, baby! Yeah!
Despite the impressive-seeming full schedule of capitalism-smashing "direct actions" all day long, most of them fizzled into nothingness as the first half of the rally quickly devolved into everyone...
...sitting around and painting slogans on Market Street.
Then we all trooped over to the Financial District for a brief rally in front of the Bank of America building (one of the tallest buildings on the West Coast and eternal symbol of the eeeeeeevil banking industry).
And then the assembled four hundred or so protesters marched back to Market Street. This revolutionary act stunned the world! Some people walked up a street, and then later walked down a different street! Gasp!
(Video courtesy of a contributor.)
This video shows the day's climactic moment, as the marchers chanted "Happy Birthday, Occupy!"
Since nothing really happened of any significance all afternoon and since the rally had no real narrative arc other than a bunch of crazies, bums and activists milling around the city for a few hours, the photos below are presented in no particular order.
On the very day that violent Islamic fundamentalist riots broke out all over the Arab world, one protester still hadn't gotten the memo that maybe it's not so smart to compare the Occupy movement with a revolution that paved the way for the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda to gain political ascendency.
Economic thinking among the Occupiers remained exceedingly uninsightful. This typical sign demanded that we "curb the corporations" and then somehow also guarantee "jobs for the 99%." But if we've just curbed all the corporations, which presumably would entail downsizing and layoffs, then for whom will all these 99%ers be working? I guess the answer would be "the government" in a completely centralized economy. Because we all know how well that worked out in the 20th century. To be honest, I doubt her analysis extended that far: All she knows is that corporations are bad and jobs for everyone are good, end of story.
The anarchists from Occupy Oakland don't want jobs or a centralized all-powerful government, of course. But let's not let details undermine our unity!
Yes, unity. Since the very beginning of the movement a year ago, there had never been a unified Occupy front in the Bay Area. OccupySF was distinct from Occupy Oakland which was different from Occupy Berkeley which was even different from Occupy U.C. Berkeley — not to mention Occupy groups in smaller cities nearby. Furthermore, the big city Occupy groups had fractured into squabbling cliques, such as Oakland which broke apart into Occupy Patriarchy and Occupy Gentrification among others, while San Francisco saw the emergence of local neighborhood groups like Occupy Bernal. The end result was a chaotic directionless jumble of competing mini-Occupies jockeying for power in their tiny political pond.
A protester interviewed at the rally tried to put a positive spin on the situation:
"A lot of the groups that were involved in the Occupy movement are still active and doing things but they’ve kind of dispersed. It’s decentralized," said Zoe Desalle, 25, of Oakland. "There are groups fighting foreclosures. There are groups working on banks. There’s Occupy The Farm and people have gone on (to) different local issues and projects. Which is really cool but it’s also important for people to affirm that we’re still here and doing things..."
But the arrival of the one-year anniversary changed all that. Realizing that each tiny group on its own had no chance of succeeding, they finally decided to band together into OBAU: Occupy Bay Area United. This rally marked the birth of the new united front. And yet, somehow, despite all the Occupies (even extending all the way down to Santa Cruz) coming together for a grand convergence, they still managed just a few hundred participants at most.
At least the few remaining diehards have maintained their anti-American mala fides, as the sign above proves.
In a last desperate clutching at straws, this fellow begged Occupy's diametric opposites to rescue his flailing movement by joining forces. Sorry, buddy — a little late in the game for that.
Y'know, my friend, I have considered the implications of a maximum wage, and this is what I concluded: In order to prevent people from earning as much money as they desire, we necessarily would have to live in a totalitarian police state which punished success by force — and/or we'd have to implement a 95+% tax rate on business owners. Both of which would lead to economic collapse, widespread poverty, and a culture of fear and oppression.
What makes me depressed is that you haven't considered any of this.
In addition to the usual motley Occupy crew of smelly homeless bums...
..washed up former radicals reminiscing about the glory days of the '60s...
...young paranoiacs who reduce everything to a series of Twitter hashtags...
...and union members, we had...
...well, actually, that just about covers everyone.
(Video courtesy of a contributor.)
Here's an Occupy troubadour singing "The Answer, My Friend, Is Tax the Millionaires," a so-bad-it's-funny rewrite of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind."
At the Bank of America building, many of the protesters stood for a photo shoot holding several large banners made for the occasion.
But what you don't see in the staged shot is that the organizers had been wildly over-optimistic about the size of the rally and made far more banners than there were people willing to carry them. Most of them remained unused all day.
All sorts of attention-getting political actions had been announced throughout the day, yet most seemed to evaporate or slip by quickly, unnoticed by the majority of participants. For example, at one point we were all supposed to "compost our debt," but I never saw any composting going on. Later I read that some folks had symbolically torn up and thrown away scraps of paper representing their debts, but it was such a minor sideshow that few people saw what happened.
Things have gotten so "meta" in the protest world that people write pre-emptive captions for photos before the photos are even taken, to make sure the story is framed properly. Therefore, I was going to write a caption that said "This is not a tent — it is a symbol of protest," but now I don't have to! What a time-saver!
Some Occupiers wore party hats to celebrate the movement's one-year birthday.
I've been taking pictures of protests for ten years now, and in all that time I have never seen anyone get the idea to make a sign and hold it on his face with a pair of glasses. Until today. It's very very rare to see an original idea at a protest, so this guy gets my Occupier of the Week award.
A sign left behind by the organizers listed "spongeing" as a topic of serious discussion by the General Assembly. I appreciate the honesty! ("Drugs/alcohol/idiocy" also seems to be an area of concern.)
Don't accuse the Occupiers of being liberals! No. They are "post liberal," as this protester clarifies.
Poor liberalism. It used to be an honorable concept. It's now a dirty word to the right and the left.
I guess Assata Shakur has never heard of Gandhi and the Indian independence movement.
Oddly, there was practically no mention of the presidential election at the rally, aside from this one LGBT endorsement of Obama and a couple of jabs at Romney's tax rate. Aside from that, Occupy has deliberately and consciously divorced itself from electoral politics — and in so doing relegated itself to eternal irrelevancy. (The theory being that we need a complete anti-capitalist revolution, something that can only happen outside the existing political structure.)
"The True terrorist of our world do not meet At the docks at midnight or scream 'Allah Ackbar' before some violent action. The true terroist of our time Wear 5,000 dollar suits and work in the Highest Position of finance, goverment & business."
If you can't decide whether the plural of "penny" is spelled with a "y" or an "i," then use both!
Apparently school teachers don't need to know how to spell in "Chicgo," wherever that is.
We were entertained by the abominable Brass Liberation Orchestra, seemingly composed of high school marching band rejects. Approximately 30% of their notes are in tune.
The entirety of the march walking down California Street. If you want your own crowd estimate, count 'em.
The only "resistance" I see in this crowd are the STDs becoming resistant to antibiotics.
Occupy: The jilted girlfriend who still stalks you a year later.
When the party was over, there was nothing left but "Smash the State" and Birkenstocks.
Happy Birthday Occupy!
After spending the afternoon hanging out with a bunch of fringe radicals who claimed to speak for "the working class," I got onto a rush-hour BART train, overflowing with corporate employees, and thought to myself, "These people are the real working class. People who actually work. And none of them have the slightest interest in the Occupy movement."
There were three times as many people on that one subway train than there were at the entire rally. And trains were loading up commuters every two minutes for hours and hours. They went home and relaxed, leaving an irrelevant, pathetic and tiny cluster of aimless revolutionaries to wander the streets.