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Friday, 21 March 2003

disrupting san francisco


So my housemate, Tiffany, and I met up in dowtown San Francisco this morning around 10:00 or so. Protestors were chained to large cement garbage cans in Market Street near 2nd. People were banging on drums and dancing around. Then the police got into formation and started marching around. They told everyone to get out of the street or face arrest. Most folks got out of the street and then the cops started very calmly arresting people one at a time. It all seemed very civil. The people waiting to be handcuffed seemed to be having amikable conversations with the cops. They were sat down, cuffed, then one by one phtographed and put onto a bus.

Then the fire department showed up and started cutting through the pipe and chain binding the chained-up protesters together. the police were getting frustrated and treating non-cooperative protesters roughly. they dropped one woman to the ground and twisted her arms back painfully. When she said she was in pain, the guy supervising said her pain was nothing compared to what she had caused commuters that morning.

The bus filled up. People on it were singing "We all Live in a Yellow Submarine." they drove away to cheers from the crowd. The crowd was non-confrontational. They were shouting things like, "SFPD, 99% of the time, you're the greatest!" And there were hundreds of cops. We outnumbered them, but there sure were a lot of them.

The problem for them was like the story of the person trying to move the ocean with an eyedropped. When they got an intersection cleared, we just moved down a block and stopped traffic there. People in office buildings stared down at us. work was stopping.


Tiffany and I walked to the Civic Center for the noon rally. There were hardly any cops around. The mood was more stressed, but still carnival like. Some speakers shouted. I purchased some sketchy food that will probably result in food poisoning.

All of us marched over to the federal building and surrounded it. People handed out flyers on upcoming protests, other political campaigns and how to be and stay a non-violent protestor.

We blocked traffic around the federal building. People sat in front of the parking garage exits. There were a few more cops, but not many. A reporter asked a cop behind me how they were planning on getting people out of the building. the cop said he didn't know. My father-in-law used to work in that building, I'm pretty sure. Stopping the Forrest Service doesn't seem super-productive. Anyway, it seemed like that if folks wanted out, the protesters would not only have let them out, but would have cheered them for leaving work. going back might have been a problem, it seemed, but then later I heard folks verbally discouraging a court reporter from going to work, and he got in anyway.

Some guy was holding a sign that said "Puke for Peace." I just read a news report that said that 300 people actually did vomit as protest. goodness.

I walked up the street and saw a marching band and asked them about joining, explaining that I want to get a marching harness for my lap tuba. The suosaphone player was exhausted. It was 2:00-something and he'd been playing since 7:00 AM and the wind was very gusty, which is hell for sousaphones with their big bell facing forward. So I marched and played a couple of songs. There was no printed music. He told me the songs were in d and F mostly, so I faked it.


The crowd at the federal building was thinning out, so we called Christi, my wifey, to find out what was going on. She had a tough call to make this morning, since she works for a struggling non-profit. After seeing the CHP looking grim in riot gear on the way in to the city, she decided to go to work rather than risk a scary encounter with one of them. Anyway, she told us that there was rubber bullets and tear gas being used over at 7th and Market and that there was an officer down.

Tiffany and I walked over to see what was going on and so I could get field recordings of it. I wore a pair of binaural mics in my ear all day, recording to a sony minidisk. the minidisk is the bomb. I never have brought my DAT recorder to a protest, even with the ghigher quality. I don't yet have a didigtal out for the disks yet, but anyway, we walked over there.

there was some spray paint and a group of what looked like black-block protesters. Thos are anarchists who wear black, spray paint and break windows of war profiteers. they want to end capitalism. there were a couple of folks sitting in the street, handcuffed, a lot of people milling around and a whole lot of cops. chanting was sparse all day and the afternoon crowd there at Market was nearly silent. Watching, waiting. the cops outnumbered the crowd. while i was there, a whole bunch of CHP showed up. The cops standing next to the sidewalk were the same cops I saw that morning, only they looked tired, more grim and angry. A few meters from me, they started arguing with some woman standing on the sidewalk. they threw her to the ground and cuffed her. She was screaming, that she wasn't a protester, she was just standing there, she didn't do anything. As far as I could tell, they did pick her at random. she was on the sidewalk, not blocking traffic. And they seemed to be using a lot of force. She was yelling that them, but dropping her to the pavement face first seemed to be excessive

Everyone was angry and the cops outnumbered us and seemed very determined. At the noon rally, the protest organizers told us to go to the financial district at 4:00 to block evening commute traffic. I think the cops were going to open the street, damnit.

No sign of what we'd been told over the phone happening... yet. So we went for a walk the other way. There was a crane picking up all the cement grabage cans and putting them on a truck so that nobody could drag them into the street and be chained to them anymore.


after sleeping less than an hour last night, I'mm too dern tired to block commute traffic this evening. think I'll do more stuff tomorrow instead, after I write the music I need to write (deadlines....)

if you had an orange vest and some safety cones, you could cause traffic havok, just going from intersection to intersection, coning it off. The salvage yard in berkeley at 7th and ashby sells cones for like $1 each. fyi. there's also a movement to drive really slow. Drive slow, walk slow, hold up traffic. the slow-moving protest actually was instrumental in driving a dictator out of power, but i'm too tired to remember where. Tiffany knows all about it though. Ask her.

anyway, i have 4 or 5 minidisks full of field recordings, but no digital out anywhere on my recorder. la la la. need to get the recorder to dump to my puter.

stop work to stop the war!

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