Guardian editorial: The problem of U.C. police


GUARDIAN EDITORIAL Twenty years from now, when people look back on the Occupy movement, one of the indelible images will be the video of the University of California police officer casually dousing a group of peaceful, seated students in Davis with pepper spray. It’s a video that’s been seen millions of times around the world. It reflects a serious problem not just with one officer but with the way officials at all levels have responded to the protests — and with the way institutional police forces operate in this state.

In the video, a group of students involved in the OccupyUC movement are seated on the ground with arms linked. Lt. John Pike walks up and down the row, indiscriminately shooting the orange spray — which causes severe pain and breathing problems — over the students, who make no move to resist. It’s horrifying and stunning, the sort of thing that you wouldn’t believe unless you saw it yourself.

The Davis chancellor, Linda Katehi, has been reeling from the incident and is facing calls for her resignation. Pike and the chief of the U.C. Davis police have been put on administrative leave pending an investigation.

But now Assemblymember Tom Ammiano of San Francisco told us he  wants to go a step further — he  he plans  to hold hearings in Sacramento not just on this incident but on how police agencies across the state have dealt with mostly nonviolent protesters. He’s absolutely right — and his hearings should also raise a critical question: Why does the University of California need its own armed police force?

The problems with the police at Davis mirror problems with the behavior of the U.C. Berkeley police — which mirror problems with the BART police. And all of them stem from a central problem: These little police fiefdoms have poor supervision, poor training,  and limited civilian oversight.

The chancellor of U.C. Davis doesn’t know anything about running a police department; she’s an electrical engineer and an academic. If she resigns, she’ll be replaced by another academician who knows nothing about law enforcement. And if the U.C. police misbehave, where do people go to complain? There’s no independent auditor, no office of citizen complaints.

If the Oakland police ran rampant — and they have been known to do exactly that — at least the elected mayor can be held accountable. Same for any city that has a municipal force. But when campus and transit security operations turn into armed paramilitary agencies, it’s a recipe for trouble.

At the very least, the U.C. police — like the BART police — need an independent oversight agency to handle complaints. But it might be time to discuss whether campuses can best be protected with unarmed security guards supported by local municipal police. The University of California will never take that step on its own, so the state Legislature needs to evaluate whether lawmakers should force the issue.

Postscript: STOP SHOOTING STUDENTS:  The real problem for U.C. Davis’s Kotehi and other U.C. chancellors was illustrated by  this classic J’Accuse open letter by Nathan Brown,  U.C/Davis.assistant professor in the Department of English.

Occupy standoffs continue as poll finds public support for the movement


As OccupyOakland moves to reoccupy Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza today and the burgeoning OccupySF encampment braces for another long-threatened raid by police, a new Field Poll finds that about half of registered California voters identify with the Occupy movement and support its goals, which include taxing the rich and limiting the ability of large corporations to corrupt the political and economic systems.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, 46 percent of respondants said they identified with the Occupy movement and 58 percent agree with the cause that prompted it, compared with 32 percent who say they disagree with it. Unsurprisingly, those on the left were more likely to support Occupy while those on the right were more likely to oppose it. A previous Field Poll at the height of the right-wing Tea Party movement found it had only about half as much support as Occupy now enjoys.

Still, as it enters its third month and winter descends on the encampments, Occupy faces myriad challenges. In San Francisco, the mainstream media — particularly curdmugeonly Chronicle columnist CW Nevius — has regularly highlighted conflicts and other conditions in the camps and pushed Mayor Ed Lee to follow-through on his threats to clear the tents from Justin Herman/Bradley Manning Plaza. Rumors abound that a raid could come on Wednesday night, when SFPD beefs up its staffing for training exercises.

In Oakland, the site of some of the most violent police crackdowns on Occupy encampments, OccupyOakland members are right now (noon, Tues/29) marching back into their former home and pledging to set up a 24/7 protest in defiance of city officials. While they seem to be stopping short of a full-blown occupation and tent city, they claim to be setting up a model for the next phase of the Occupy movement.

The group’s press release follows:




Phil Horne, Esq., Occupy Oakland Vigil Committee

415-874-9800; occupylaw@riseup.net



On Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at noon, Occupy Oakland activists will retake Frank Ogawa a.k.a. Oscar Grant Plaza in downtown Oakland with a 24-hour, 7 day-a-week vigil.  Occupiers hope to create a model for a new wave of “Occupation” protest throughout the United States. With the vigil, Occupiers will continue asserting rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution to assemble, speak, and petition government for redress of grievances.  The vigil is not the product of a bargain with Mayor Quan, nor is it negotiated with law enforcement–permission from the city is not required to exercise these constitutionally guaranteed rights.

The structures in the plaza will be symbolic and part of the vigil protest. A teepee will remind the public of the former Occupy camp and historic struggles of the Sioux Indians on the Plains of the U.S.; homeless workers in Hoovervilles during the Great Depression; the “Bonus March” to Washington D.C. by unpaid and unemployed veterans in 1932; Resurrection City following the assassination of Martin Luther King; the AIDS vigil of 1980s San Francisco; and the redwood occupations of Judi Bari and Running Wolf.

Occupy Oakland continues its occupation because residents of Oakland and across the US are still fighting for food, shelter, medical care, school, childcare, and other necessities.  The 1% enjoy 40% of U.S. wealth and 50% ownership of Wall Street stocks and bonds.  The bottom 80% split 7% of the former and just 5% of the latter.  The average 35-year-old in the 99% has a net worth less than $3,000.00.  Occupiers ask the public to consider, “How long does it take an unemployed member of the 99% to go through $3,000.00 and become homeless.” In Oakland, the unemployment rate is nearly double that of the national average. These are issues of crucial relevance to our city.

Occupy Oakland’s vigil declares, “If the 1% won’t share voluntarily through a sense of morality and concern for the well-being of all, then through protest and direct action, we will force change!  Occupy the Plaza!  De-colonize the 99%!”

Occupy Oakland will have sign-up sheets starting Tuesday at 11 am. at the Plaza, but sign up is not a prerequisite for participation in the vigil. Supporters are encouraged to come out day or night to participate.  The Plaza is fully accessible to the differently-abled.

About OccupyOakland:

Occupy Oakland is an emerging social movement without leaders or spokespeople. It is one of 1,570 occupations currently occurring around the world in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. For more information about the other occupations, see: http://www.occupytogether.org/

An up-to-date calendar announcing Oakland actions, and more information can be found at:







Protesters target UC to demand openness, accountability, and the restoration of cuts


UPDATED BELOW — Protesters with ReFund California and other groups are gathering today (Mon/28) at UCSF-Mission Bay and three other UC campuses to protest a teleconference of the UC Board of Regents, which will discuss state funding levels and tuition increases, as well as recent incidents of police violence against nonviolent student protesters.

ReFund California, a coalition of student and labor groups, is angry with the UC’s decision to abruptly cancel the Nov. 16-17 Regents meeting at UCSF, citing public safety concerns surrounding a meeting that the group had been planning a convergence on for months – as well as a hastily called meeting on the day after Thanksgiving.

The group has created a pledge that it wants the Regents to agree to, which includes calling for higher taxes on the rich, a restoration of cuts to the public university systems, removal of commercial land from Prop. 13 property tax caps, and a fee on Wall Street financial transactions.

ReFund California is also dismissive of independent investigations the UC has initiated to look at aggressive police repression of students protests, including police at UC Berkeley using batons and mass arrests to dismantle an OccupyCal tent city and police at UC Davis dousing passive protesters with pepper spray. Video of both incidents went viral and have helped galvanize the overlapping Occupy and student movements.

“No amount of new ‘police protocols’ will prevent violence against students and workers, as long California’s corporate and financial elite along with their representatives among the Regents and administrators of the UC rely on police to address the concerns of students and workers,” the ReFund California Coalition wrote in the letter to the UC.

Today’s action at UCSF – centered around the meeting site at 1675 Owens Street, where a Guardian reporter is on the scene and will offer her report later today – joins similar protests at UC Davis, UCLA, and UC Merced, the four sites where the Regents will gather.

Meanwhile, ReFund and other groups are also angry that the CSU Board of Trustees went ahead with its Nov. 16 meeting behind closed doors, clearing out student protesters and the public before they approved a 9 percent tuition hike, an action that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (a member of that body) denounced.

“While I understand the CSU leadership’s concerns regarding public safety, the spirit of open deliberations has been marred,” Newsom wrote in a Nov. 18 letter to Chancellor Charles Reed, calling for the matter to be re-voted at the Dec. 5 meeting to “allow the full board to hold an open debate, with full public comment and members of the media present.”

In related news, many students and faculty at UC Davis are on strike today to protest the pepper-spraying incident. And tomorrow (Tues/29) at noon, members of OccupyOakland say they plan to retake Frank Ogawa Plaza (which they renamed Oscar Grant Plaza) and set up another 24/7 encampment.

UPDATE NOON: Guardian reporter Christine Deakers says there is a heavy police presence at the UCSF meeting, where only 50 members of the public are allowed inside and most of those seats have been claimed by ReFund California members. When the Regents decided to limit the time for public testimony, the group held a General Assembly in the meeting, drowning out the Regents and causing the meeting to adjourn until 1:30 pm. You can follow her tweets here or here.

UPDATE 1:50 PM: The UC Board of Regents did not reconvene, instead cancelling the rest of the meeting without taking action. The San Francisco Chronicle quotes Newsom as saying he supports the demands of ReFund but that he’s not willing to sign its pledge.

In his words: SF Occupier Derek


We spoke with Derek at Occupy SF on Monday, November 21. He spoke about his Cherokee roots and how he feels like he’s been an activist since he was “in the womb.” Listen to our interview with Derek after the jump.


OccupySF_Derek by SFBayGuardianSounds

Meet more Faces of Occupy here.

In his words: SF Occupier Adam


Art director Mirissa Neff and photographer David Bornfriend had the chance to talk with Adam at Occupy SF on Monday, November 21. The recent Cornell grad discusses why he felt it was important to participate in Occupy as well as the solidarity he feels with the UC Davis and Berkeley students. Listen to his interview here

(Click here to learn more about the collodion portrait work that appears on the cover of this week’s paper.)

About that “acrimonious fall”

Catch this. Mayor Ed Lee’s mayoral victory had nothing to do with millions of dollars in campaign contributions from private interests, a sophisticated get-out-the vote effort targeting Lee supporters, the advantage of incumbency, some funny business, or a calculated campaign strategy concentrating efforts on absentee ballots.

Instead, the fact that Lee triumphed over voters’ second pick, the significantly less well-funded progressive candidate Sup. John Avalos, is proof that the left in San Francisco has plummeted into a dark abyss. In fact, the progressive movement has descended so far into disarray and become so irrelevant that its condition warrants front page news.

That’s essentially the narrative that Benjamin Wachs and Joe Eskenazi of the San Francisco Weekly offer in their cover article, “Progressively Worse: The Tumultuous Rise and Acrimonious Fall of the City’s Left,” in which they refer to the Guardian as “the movement’s cajoling ward boss, kingmaker, and sounding board.” Gosh, I feel so goddamn important right now.

Once the blood pressure returned to normal, my initial reaction to this piece was that Wachs and Eskenazi seem to misunderstand who and what progressives actually are. They portray the city’s left as a caricature, a brash bunch of power mongers now on the losing end that can be easily summed up with pithy video game references, Happy Meal toy bans, and bikes.

Witness the contrast between the Weekly’s portrayal of progressives (helped along by former Newsomite Eric Jaye), and the portrait of the left the Guardian offers this week with an Op-Ed written by NTanya Lee — an actual progressive who volunteered for the Avalos for Mayor campaign.

Here’s the Weekly on the left:

“This is an eclectic group, one often bound not by mutual interests as much as mutual enmity — toward Brown, his successors, and the corporate interests of ‘downtown.’ As a result, progressive principles are often wildly inconsistent. Progressives favor more government control over people’s lives for their own good, as when they effectively banned McDonald’s Happy Meals. But sometimes progressives say the government needs to let people make their own choices … Progressives believe government should subsidize homeless people who choose to drink themselves to death, while forbidding parents from buying McNuggets because fast food is bad for us. … Without consistent principles, it’s easy to associate progressives with the craziest ideas to come out of City Hall, and the movement’s bad ideas are memorable. … Daly’s pledge to say ‘Fuck’ at every public meeting makes a killer Internet meme. Hey, let’s legalize prostitution and outlaw plastic bags!”

Here’s Lee on the left:

“The Avalos coalition was largely community forces: SF Rising’s base in working class Black, Latino, Filipino and Chinese communities; the Bike Coalition’s growing base of mostly white bike riders; affinity groups like Filipinos, Queers, Latinos and Arabs for Avalos; progressive Democrats; social networks of creative, young progressive activists affiliated with the League of Young Voters; and loyal families and neighborhood leaders from John’s own District 11. The campaign prioritized communicating to voters in four languages, and according to the Chinese press, John Avalos was the only non-Chinese candidate with a significant Chinese outreach program. There were stalwarts from progressive labor unions (most notably SEIU 1021 and USWW) who threw down — but overall, labor played it safe and invested resources in other guys. And then, in the great surprise development of the race, supporters of the new national occupy movement came to be a strong part of the Team Avalos base because the campaign was so well positioned to resonate with the call to take on the one percent.”

When it comes to takeaways from the November election, the Weekly’s conclusion is essentially opposite that of progressives. While many on the left see themselves as regaining momentum and building the power to rise even in the face of defeat by the established powers-that-be, the Weekly casts San Francisco’s left as deflated and out-of-touch.

Speaking of out-of-touch, the SF Weekly refers to San Francisco’s “increasingly imaginary working class.”  But in reality, 61 percent of students attending public schools in S.F. Unified School District qualify for free or reduced lunch, and a majority of San Franciscans cannot afford market-rate housing.

However, the Weekly is correct in pointing out that shifting demographics have dealt a blow to the progressive base.

“Between 2000 and 2010, the city grew older (every age group over 50 increased), wealthier (there are now 58 percent more households earning $125,000 or more), and more heavily Asian (up from around 30 to nearly 35 percent of the city’s population): exactly the groups progressives don’t win with. These voters don’t respond well to campaigns against developments or for city services, because they’re often living in those developments and don’t need city services.”

I take issue with the Asian part of that statement as a sweeping generalization, however, having witnessed the solid organizing work of the Chinese Progressive Association, for example.

The Weekly also says progressives and the Guardian never called out former Mayor Gavin Newsom for ripping off their best ideas. Oh, they didn’t?  That’s news to me.

The Weekly article implies that progressives got trounced by moderates because jobs are priority No. 1 for voters, and the left has no feasible economic plan — but at the same time, the article completely dismisses ideas that the Guardian has put forth, like creating a municipal bank, implementing Avalos’ Local Hire legislation, or taxing the rich.

Taxing the rich is precisely the kind of economic solution the international Occupy movement is clamoring for, and the concept has even attracted a few unlikely supporters, like billionaires Warren Buffet and Sean Parker, who is not some conservative a*hole by the way.

“The Guardian … stays on the progressive agenda because they put it there, along with taxing the rich, tapping downtown to subsidize Muni, and other measures … Proposing the same old solutions to every new problem turns policies into punch lines.”

Speaking of predictable, no profile authored by the Weekly mentioning the Guardian would be complete without some dig about public power. “The Guardian has been flogging public power since Tesla invented the alternating-current generator,” the S.F. Weekly squawks. Those clever reporters, turning policies into punch lines.

But wait, I thought the problem was that progressives couldn’t get it together on the job creation thing. Consider the CleanPower SF program, which has been strongly advocated for by progressive Sup. and Sheriff-elect Ross Mirkarimi (who it turns out is “not toxic,” according to the Weekly, since he was elected citywide and all). According to an analysis by the Local Clean Energy Alliance, CleanPowerSF will create 983 jobs — 4,357 jobs when indirect job creation is factored in — over the course of three years, assuming the 51 percent renewable energy target is met. Presented with this kind of information, the Weekly will only yawn and say, “Are we on that again?”

That being said, our friends’ article might actually have a pearl of wisdom or two buried somewhere in that nauseating sea of sarcasm. Everyone needs to engage in self-reflection. So right after you’re done throwing up, think about how to take advantage of the opportunity this article presents for a citywide dialogue about progressivism in San Francisco.

Holiday gift guide



HOLIDAY GUIDE 2011 We know. Between the blasts of pepper gas you sustained at the last Cal protest and all those “support needed” texts you’ve been receiving from Occupy Everything, Everywhere, All the Time you’ve barely had a spare moment to think about your holiday shopping list. Easy now, no need to get your bandanna in a twist. We’ve been trekking around the city (and that hella occupied burg on the other end of the Bay Bridge) for the very best in affordable presents this holiday season — and we found them all at locally-owned businesses. So don’t break the bank — occupy its lobby instead, conquered shopping list in hand. 




There is perhaps nothing more happy than a man with soul in his heart, as anyone who watches the YouTube video entitled “Dick Vivian cuttin’ the rug at Rooky’s!” can attest. Vivian is the owner and spiritual embodiment of the venerable Lower Haight record store, which he stocks with real-cheap 45s, vintage camera equipment, and a passel of witty lapel pins and magnets.

For real holiday majick, however, one must turn to Vivian’s lovingly-crafted mix CDs. There they sit, 10 bucks a pop with witty, retro-recreation packaging, a wonderland of ’60s soul, girl bands, and more. Many of the tracks, Vivian will attest, have never been captured in CD form before. Do you have a dad who still digs on the funky sounds of his youth? A buddy who is never more happy than when she’s doing the twist? You friend, have struck shopping list gold.

448 Haight, SF. (415) 864-7526, www.rookyricardos.com




Half the battle of holiday shopping is remaining positive. You will find the perfect token of your affection for each and every coworker, friend, family member, and postal worker. The secret to undying enthusiasm this season is patronizing shops where retailing can make you happy — which is why a visit to Clothes Contact is essential. The Mission vintage shop is a carnival of colors and patterns, and sells most of its items by the pound ($10 per!)

Some of the shop’s most attractive items are the individually-priced accessories like its bowties and fedoras, which combine for a package that’ll make even the most sartorially uninspired chappie stoked for the office holiday party. The real steal, however, is in the shoe section, where you will find women’s kicks for a pittance. $8 gets you this pair of jewel-toned slippers, whose sexy-comfy flat heels have the power to traipse with you through much more than eight crazy nights.

473 Valencia, SF. (415) 621-3212




The average behind-the-bar adventurer knows bitters to be highly concentrated blends of herbs, spices, rinds, and roots sure to add zing to a standard cocktail. This non-alcoholic blood orange bottle lends a deep, pumpkin-y hue to your drinks — as well as a slightly sweet taste.

5620 Geary, SF. (415) 386-9463, www.blackwellswines.com




Mission Loc@l’s guidebook lives up to the neighborhood news site’s name: their pocket-sized collection of various Missionites’ (from grade-schoolers to aging boho poets) favorite places in the ‘hood could open the eyes of the most seasoned South Van Ness dweller to hidden gems amidst the murals and taco shops.

Available in various SF locations. Order online at www.missionlocal.org (search term: guidebook)




Paul’s Hat Shop has been around since 1918 — and the same goes for many of its hat styles. Check out the silky old bowties that sit seductively on a countertop. They come in patterns that haven’t seen the light of day for decades, guaranteeing that vintage fans recipients will wear them with care.

6128 Geary, SF. (415) 221-5332, www.hatworksbypaul.com




Open the door to the best kind of trouble with these dangling pasties, made from the same chalky rainbow sweets as traditional candy necklaces. Swing by Good Vibe’s newest store at 899 Mission to check out the sex toy vanguard’s downtown flavor.

Various Bay Area locations. www.goodvibes.com




Unless your recipient’s feet fall outside the size four to thirteen range, they can rest easy in the soft silken threads of Sakura’s house slippers. A jam-packed and family-run Japanese discount store, this spot stocks hundreds of the kicks, which are perfect for padding around the house or slipping on for a last-minute car-moving operation since yes, street sweeping is this morning.

936 Irving Street, SF. (415) 665-5064, www.sakurasf.com




A sweet present for a secretive soul: choose a book from your shelves that you’re done with (hardcover tends to work best), glue the pages together with super glue or epoxy leaving one cover free, and use an Exacto knife to cut out a square in the middle of the pages, creating a nook worthy of a Sherlock Holmes novel. Stick in a note that declares your end-of-2011 love and give to the super sleuth you fancy the most.

For more DIY present ideas, check out www.instructables.com




Slow Food adherent Laura Forst makes the perfect housewarming present for nutters: candied floral cashews that steer clear of holiday-heavy saccharine.





An online Etsy toybox of vintage toys and kitschy coffee cups, SF Mission Finds clearly subscribes to that old Playskool truism: “Mr. Potato Head’s other parts might get mixed up, but his heart is always in the right place.” Cop the shop’s 1985 Mr. Potato Head for the beloved misfit toy on your list.





Could Time-Life Books have imagined that their series on the paranormal — which was published between 1987 and 1991 and broke sales records for the publishing house — would find new popularity on the shelves of a Mission District vintage clothing store? Surely not, but the occult fan in your life will certainly appreciate the resurrection of such titles as Cosmic Duality and Spirit Summonings.

1360 Valencia, SF. (415) 401-7027, www.paintedbird.org




For the holidays, this cozy little shop in Potrero Hill is selling felted ornaments made by two women who live right in the neighborhood. No need to truck out to the Christmas superstore this year (sorry, Target)!

1331 18th St., Potrero Hill, SF. (415) 624-3736




Of course, you can always give them something that will, without fail, ensure that sharp intake of breath that marks the happy receipt of a caloric holiday gift-bomb. This holiday sweet from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Pie in the Sky (DaCapo Press, 233pp, $17) should do just the trick — and will win the heart of gentle vegans and fierce omnivores alike.

Makes one nine-inch pie or one 11-inch pie


1 nine-inch pie crust


½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup pure maple sugar

¼ cup nonhydrogenated margarine

6 ounces extra-firm silken tofu

¼ cup cold unsweetened plain nondairy milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups pecan halves

First, we’re going to make a caramel. In a two quart saucepan, mix together the sugars and the maple syrup. Heat over medium heat, stirring often with a whisk. Once small bubbles start rapidly forming, stir pretty constantly for about 10 minutes. The mixture should become thick and syrupy. It shouldn’t be boiling too fiercely; if big bubbles start climbing the walls of the pan then lower the heat a bit.

Add the margarine and stir to melt. Turn the heat off, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, and let it cool for a bit. In the meantime, prepare the rest of the filling.

Crumble the tofu into a blender or food processor, along with the milk, cornstarch, and salt. Puree until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender to make sure you get everything.

Transfer the filling to the prepared pie crust and bake for 40 minutes. When done, the pie is going to be somewhat jiggly, but it should appear to be set. Let cool, slice, and serve! No cheating and pulling pecans off the pie.

Variation: Sprinkle ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt over the cooled pie.

For more vegan recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, check out www.theppk.com





There’s just something that works about Italian feasts over the holidays. Maybe it’s the decadence of the cuisine, or perhaps the vivid hues of marinara, eggplant, and basil — wherever the allure lies, you can get your buddy rolling on a meal to remember with this cheap but classy gift: a pound or two of Lucca Foods’ housemade spinach pasta.

1100 Valencia, SF. (415) 647-5581, www.luccaravioli.com




Few might initially elect to smell like Union Square, but Roman Ruby’s handmade soaps ($10) and bath salts are redolent in the postcard-pleasure of San Francisco’s most beloved areas. Ocean Beach (coconut and sea salt), Golden Gate Park (grass and rose), Potrero Hill (goat milk and lemon verbena), and Bernal Heights (fig and brown sugar) are all represented.

1371 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 664-4422, www.urbanbazaarsf.com




This sweet Etsy page is run by a self-proclaimed misanthrope right here in the city, and stocks a passel of darling, uber-affordable earrings. Made of polymer clay, ice cream cone earrings can be ordered in a variety of “flavors” — the mint is a lovely light green and bubblegum is a pretty pink dotted with green and blue sprinkles.





We all know the adage about quantity and quality, but what about when you can get a lot of something that also happens to be really good? Buddhism Feng Shui Supply’s incense is high quality (meant for use in shrines) and comes in a wide variety of scents. Unless your giftee is a real burner, it’s pretty much bound to last a lifetime.

907 Clement, SF. (415) 831-1987




How very adorable will it be when you take your baby to this well-loved local video store for one of its cheap-as-heck movie nights? Like, very very. Grab two of the seats near the front of the store and bring their fave candy for maximum points. Film buffs rejoice: Lost Weekend’s projection screen productions tend to involve flicks not available on Netflix (in fact, in September it hosted a film festival called just that).

1034 Valencia, SF. (415) 643-3375, www.lostweekendvideo.com




One touch and you’ll be touching: this handy little number from Oak-Town’s hottest new feminist-queer sex shop promises that it “puts the lube between your cheeks, not on the sheets.” That means the only unwanted friction between you and your lover over the holidays will be about whose family is more bizarre.

1703 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 891-0199, www.feelmore510.com




Along one wall of this super-fly supplier of 1990s and aught-era Starter jackets, ball caps, and occasional fanny packs is the $6 t-shirt rack. Browse its hangers for tees from your giftee’s alma mater, fave sports team, or artistic nemesis: a recent trip to the store uncovered a Takashi-Murakami-designed number from Kanye West’s “Glow in the Dark” tour.

299 Guerrero, SF. (415) 624-3751, newjackcity.blogspot.com




Snag a treat from the city’s most educational chocolate factory for your holiday honey — if they’re really into the fine chocolate bathing these succulent pieces of fruit you can bring them back for one of TCHO’s Wonka-fied tours of its factory floor.

Pier 17, SF. (415) 981-0189, www.tcho.com




In our experience, all it takes to restore confidence in a would-be gardener with a track record of failed ferns is a salad green seedling. Rainbow’s got the goods in this department: stock up on a sixer of Asian mizuna greens, lemongrass, chives, and more for your budding grower.

1745 Folsom, SF. (415) 863-0620, www.rainbow.coop




What started out as an interior design studio has since evolved into a great resource for handpicked vintage goods, but hints of Room 4’s roots are visible in its selection of playing cards, which features a deck printed with the Prairie School architectural school progenitor’s greatest hits. Your giftee’s Solitaire game has never been this well-constructed.

904 Valencia, SF (415) 647-2764, www.room4.com




Candlemaking is a craft pretty much anyone can conquer — and a fragrant one at that. Hobby Co.’s beeswax comes in a variety of colors, including the standard yellow. With wicks retailing for less than fifty cents a yard, expect your giftee’s electric bill to significantly drop.

5150 Geary, SF. (415) 386-2802, www.hobbycosf.com




One of the three owners of this well-turned-out Mission boutique crafts these “air plants” in bulbous aquarium bowls. Rocks, sand, moss, and greenery coexist peacefully within the bowels of the terrariums – the perfect window sill companion for your buddy who longs for more nature in their life.

3458 18th St., SF (415) 244-7457, www.missionstatementsf.com


Dear Obama



HERBWISE Dear Obama,

Hey, how are you? You haven’t responded to my tweets, so I though I’d get at you on here. We have some things to discuss.

In all of the hubbub surrounding Occupy, the nationally-coordinated strikes on encampments, the general unrest, and the inspirational organizing taking place during this dour period of history our country is now experiencing, you’ve made next to no response.

But your federal agencies have managed to find time in the middle of said havoc to attack marijuana dispensaries and grow-ops that are legal under state law. Last week, they raided (way too much of that word going around these days) 15 of them in Washington State.

Weird, why?

On a related note, we need to talk about Sativex. Oh what, you thought we didn’t know? Don’t make this turn into a Beyonce video.

Let me tell you what I’m for sure about, and then we can talk about what I don’t understand.

I know for sure that Sativex is a drug developed by British company GW Pharmaceuticals, which declined to answer any of my phone calls while researching this letter so it’s a little unclear where exactly the drug stands on its path to legality in the US (it’s already being prescribed in Europe and Canada). Sativex is used to treat multiple sclerosis spasticity, or muscle tightness. Currently, it is in Stage III trials in the United States for use in the treatment of cancer patients, trials that are being conducted by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, the company handling the drug’s development in the US.

Sativex (and this really gets to the heart about why I’m writing to you via the Guardian cannabis column) is made from marijuana. It has been tinctured and refined into a mouth spray that contains both THC, and — unlike the synthetically engineered Marinol, which is currently being prescribed in the United States to deal with nausea and lack of appetite in cancer patients — cannabidiol, or CBD, the other cannabinoid in marijuana. It doesn’t work as fast as smoking the stuff though, in a doobie say, or bong.

But it is still cannabis albeit in an adulterated form and if things proceed as they have been, doctors will be able to legally prescribe it. Of course, it’ll be way more expensive than Humboldt’s finest — estimates for cost of treatment are pegged around $16 a day.

Now. The other day, as I wrote in this selfsame column (“Some joy in Mudville”, 10/16/11) I ran into a one Lynette Shaw, who runs the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana. She’s a patient herself and has been fighting for safe, comprehensive access to medical cannabis for over two decades. Her Fairfax dispensary, which sits on land the city specifically zoned for the purpose, is in danger of being closed because federal agents have threatened her landlord with jail time for allowing his property to host illegal drug trafficking.

Marin County, for whatever reason, has one of the highest incidents of breast cancer in the country. Is this where Sativex will be marketed?

We’ve all been wondering, Prez, why on Earth your administration would choose this moment in time to make moves on state-legal growing operations. We’ve been told that it’s election year maneuvering, but even that’s not cynical enough for me.

Here is what is not: you’ve received more than $1.6 million from the health sector — doctor’s associations, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies — since the beginning of the year. That’s more than any other candidate, in fact you edged out the next runner-up Mitt Romney by over $700,000. It would appear that Big Pharma has identified its horse in this race.

So that’s it on my end. From you, I’m just looking for some answers. Why processed drugs over plants? Why does cannabis have to be passed through a lab and profit the pharmaceutical industry to get fair clinical trial testing? Must all of our medicine be corporatized to be deemed beneficial to us?

My email’s up there.



A Concerned Citizen

The faces and voices of Occupy


Who are the 99 percent — and what are they saying? It’s not what you read in the daily papers

To read some of the accounts in the daily papers in San Francisco, and hear some of the national critics, you’d think the people in the local Occupy movement were mostly filthy, drunk, violent social outcasts just looking for a place to party. Or that they’re mad-eyed anarchists who can’t wait to break windows and throw bottles at the police. Or that they’re a confused and leaderless band that can’t figure out what it wants.

When you actually go and spend time at Occupy SF and Occupy Cal and Occupy Oakland, as our reporters have done, you get a very different picture.

The Occupy movement is diverse, complex and powerful. It’s full of people with different backgrounds and perspectives. And they all agree that economic injustice and inequality are at the root of the major problems facing the United States today.

Here are some of those people, the faces and the voices of Occupy — and a celebration of the lives they’re living and the work they’re doing.


The student

Jessica Martin reflects on the First Amendment

Guardian photo by Rebecca Bowe

Jessica Martin stood and held her sign high on the steps of Sproul Hall, at the University of California at Berkeley, while a jubilant crowd of students jammed to classic dance party tunes and set up tents. They were invigorated by a general assembly that had attracted thousands following a Nov. 15 student strike and Day of Action called as part of the Occupy movement. (Their tents were cleared in a police raid two days later, yet students responded with flair, suspending tents high in the air with balloons.)

Martin’s sign proclaimed, “Remember the First Amendment,” and she’d written the text of the Constitutional right to free speech on the other side.

“My mother stood on the steps [of the Lincoln Memorial] in D.C. with Martin Luther King as part of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” said the graduating senior, who’s majoring in Japanese and Linguistics. “And now I stand on the steps of Sproul Hall,” — the birthplace of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement — “in front of the Martin Luther King Student Union, to defend my First Amendment rights.”

She expressed solidarity with students who were brutalized by police Nov. 9 following their first attempt to establish an occupation.

“Part of what [police] are here to serve and protect is the First Amendment,” Martin said. But on that day, “They met the First Amendment with violence.” (Rebecca Bowe)


The artist

Ernest Doty responds to police brutality

Guardian photo by Rebecca Bowe

In Oakland, a young veteran named Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull and brain injuries after being hit with a police projectile at an Oct. 25 Occupy Oakland protest. Ernest Doty was one of several who ran to Olsen’s aid and carried him to safety.

“Immediately after I saw Scott go down … I knew I had to get him, and get him out of there,” Doty recounted. “I whistled at another guy, and we both ran in. The cops were shooting at us with rubber bullets.” As they ran up, he said, a flash grenade blew up next to Olsen’s face, just inches from his head injury.

Doty, 32, recently moved to the Bay Area from Albuquerque, New Mexico. An artist who also does spoken word performances, he’s camped overnight at Occupy Oakland and has incorporated words and images from the Occupy movement into his artwork and poetry.

He’s also been personally impacted by tragedies arising from police interactions: Both his stepbrother and his cousin — a veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder — were shot and killed by police in New Mexico.

Occupy Oakland “has managed to create a community out of chaos,” Doty said. “I think that this movement is going to continue to grow. It’s the 1960s all over again, but it’s broader. It’s going to be a long road. I think encampments, marches, and protests are going to continue into the next year.”(Bowe)

Ernest Doty’s next art show is Dec. 2 from 7 to 11 p.m. at Sticks + Stones Gallery, 815 Broadway, in Oakland.


The peacekeeper

Nate Paluga deals with camp conflict

Guardian photo by Mirissa Neff

Does this man look like he’s an occupier? Depends on your perception of the movement. He’s not homeless — he’s a bike mechanic who lives in Nob Hill and whose girlfriend only tentatively accepts that he’s camping in Justin Herman Plaza. He is young, blunt, and possesses the intense gaze of an activist, belied by a snug red-white-and-blue biker’s cap with “USA” emblazoned on the underbelly of its brim.

Paluga, a self-proclaimed philosopher, has grabbed upon the concepts of “fairness and equality” as the core values of Occupy. “This movement means something different to different people, but I haven’t found anyone that disagrees with those being some core values,” he said as he showed off the bike he uses to move as much as 100 pounds of food and equipment for the camp.

His core values are his guidelines in his other role at Occupy SF: peacekeeper. Paluga said he and others often intervene in the disagreements that can arise in a group-run housing situation populated by diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.

He said that with aggressive individuals it’s important to reinforce why they’re all there. “They’re coming from places where there wasn’t a lot of equality and justice and they’re bringing that with them. You gotta step in and tell them it’s gonna be okay.” (Caitlin Donohue)


The nester

Two Horses’ permanent protest

Guardian photo by Mirissa Neff

Two Horses might have the most welcoming tent at Occupy SF. Brightly stocked flowerboxes and a welcome mat are outside; inside, the one-time property manager and current homeless man has arranged an air mattress, carpet, and princess accommodations for his 12-year-old blind white cat Luna. There’s even a four-foot tall kitty tower.

The agile feline moves toward the sound of his hand tapping on the floor. “I like the idea of a 24-hour protest,” said Two Horses. He came to the camp a few weeks ago and was impressed by the quality and availability of food available in the encampment’s kitchen, where he said donations come from all over (“it comes from the 99 percent”) at all hours of the day and night.

“I knew I had to do something, so I started volunteering.” He now works the late shift, a core kitchen staffer.

When Michael Moore came by the plaza, Two Horses was impressed. “It wasn’t so much what he said but how he came shuffling up with no entourage, no security, no assistant with a clipboard.” He would, however, like to see more communication between Occupy camps, maybe a livestream video screen to see other cities.

He seems quite at home in his surroundings. “My goal is to look as permanent as I can,” he said, the corners of his mouth turning up crookedly, happily. (Donohue)


The healers

Med tent volunteers from the nurses’ union do it for the patients

Guardian photo by Mirissa Neff

Melissa Thompson has a kid who’s looking at college options; she hopes her family can figure out a way to afford education in a state where public university tuition continues to rise.

But that’s not the only reason she’s at Occupy SF. On a cloudy Friday morning, Thompson sat outside the encampment’s med tent, where she tended to cuts, changed the dressing on wounds, and provided socks, blankets, and tools for basic hygiene. It’s her trade — she’s a nurse, one of the many California Nurses Association members sick of cuts to the country’s public and private health options who were eager to lend their services to the movement.

She’s also one of the determined crew that enlivens Occupy Walnut Creek. What’s it like out there? “It’s been good,” she assured us, brightly. “We’re on the corner, by the Bank of America? We’ve had great reactions at Walnut Creek.”

Thompson said she got involved because “I love being a nurse, number one.” Corporate greed, she said, has led to cuts in her patients’ insurance, leaving them to make tough decisions between feeding their family and filling the prescription for their post-dialysis medications.

She said he hopes the politicians are listening to Occupy. “I don’t understand what the problem is. They need to open up their eyes and see how they’ve damaged us.” (Donohue)

The fabulous

Li Morales and Molly Goldberg talk about Queer Occupy

Queers have long been resisting the ravages of the one percent on the 99 percent. Resistance has looked like coming together on our own, on our own terms, with our own names, genders, and chosen families. Like the (decolonize) occupations in San Francisco, Oakland, around the country and world, our resistance is made out of a stubborn imagination, and can be messy. We are a menagerie of magnificent beasts, with all of our struggles and limitations firmly at the center of the fabulous and fucked-up world we make for ourselves.

In HAVOQ/ SF Pride at Work, we imagine queerness not as a What, an identity whose boundaries we seek to police, a platform from which to put forth our One Demand. Rather, we imagine it as a How: a way of being with one another. We call it Fabulosity. And Fabulosity means drawing on queer histories of re-imagining family as a way of expanding circles of care and responsibility. Fabulosity is to affirm the self-determination of every queer to do queer just exactly how they do. It affirms that under the banner of the 99 percent, we are all uniquely impacted by the ravages of the 1 percent and we come with a diversity of strategies and tactics to resist and survive.

In the gray areas lives our emerging autonomy and interdependence — an autonomy not contingent on capitalism’s insistence on utility. We are not useful. We are not legible. And in that lack of utility and that illegibility, we are not controllable. Because we do not have one demand, but rather a cornucopia of desire. We’re making our fabulous fucked-up world for ourselves, with each other. We always have. (Morales and Goldberg)

Li Morales and Molly Goldberg are members of SF Pride at Work/HAVOQ, a San Francisco-based collective of queers organizing for social and economic justice.


The mechanic

reZz keeps Occupy’s tires filled

Photo by David Martinez

On a Sunday afternoon at Occupy SF, Bike Kitchen volunteer reZz exported the education-oriented bike shop’s mission — and its tools — to Justin Herman Plaza. There he stood, fixing alignment on the wheels of passers-by and occupiers — for free. “Occupy Bike Shop,” as he and other volunteers have come to call the service, has been tinkering out in the plaza two to three times a week.

“It’s been lovely,” he said later in a phone interview with the Guardian. “I’ve purposefully been in a place where it’s open to people in the encampment and people who are passing by. People who stop want to see the occupation in it’s most positive light.” reZz wouldn’t consider camping out at Occupy, but that’s not to say that he doesn’t truck with the movement’s message that public space can — and should — be repurposed.

An avid biker himself, he thinks public bike repair is a great re-envisioning tactic. And fixing poor people’s bikes sends its own message. “This year’s junk is an invented need,” he said. “We’re falling into debt because we think we need a new car every year. Part of the idea of fixing people’s bikes and showing them how to do it brings us away from the artificial scarcity whereby the robber barons and capitalists insist we have to struggle against each other instead of working with each other.” (Donohue)

The medic

Miran Istina has cancer — and helps others

Guardian photo by Yael Chanoff

It had grown dark, and the OccupySF camp was restless as many signs pointed to a raid that night at 101 Market Street. But 18-year-old Miran Istina sat calmly on the sidewalk, medical supplies spread over her lap. “As a medic for OccupySF,” said Istina, “It’s my job to have a well-supplied, well-organized medical kit.”

The tall, wide-eyed teenager, who spends some of the time in a wheelchair, is not just a medic at camp. She has done police liaison and media work as well. And she has a remarkable story.

When she was 14, Istina was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Her family had purchased her health insurance only three months before, and the cancer was in stage two, indicating that she had been sick for at least one year. So the company denied her treatment, which would include a bone-marrow transplant, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, on the basis of a pre-existing condition.

Her family bought a van, left Sisters, Oregon, and started searching for somebody who would treat her. They traveled around the country three years, desperate for the life-saving treatment but unable to pay for it.

Just after her 17th birthday, Istina left her parents in New York and began hitchhiking back to Oregon. “That was my way of saying, I’m done looking for treatment. I’m going to do what makes my heart happy.”

After a little over a year of traveling and exploring her interests, Istina made her way to San Francisco. She was sleeping in Buena Vista Park when she “heard some protesters walking by, going ‘occupy San Francisco! Occupy San Francisco. I figured they were a bunch of radicals and that a street kid like me really wouldn’t be welcome.'”

A few nights later, she did go check it out, looking for a safe place to sleep. “They explained to me what it’s about, and why we’re here, and my story directly sat inside of that.”

She has been living and organizing with OccupySF ever since. She got involved with the medic team after spending a night in the hospital for kidney failure, then being treated for nine days, free, in the camp’s medical tent. “They realized I had a lot of skill as a medic, and gave me a kit.”

In the midst of recent media attacks on the OccupySF community, Istina is defensive: “Every community has its assholes. Every community has that pit that no one goes into because it’s just yucky. For some people in San Francisco it’s the Haight, for the the Haightians- you know, the Haight people- it’s the financial district. For other people it’ll be somewhere else. But I love the community here. “I’ve been hurt by a lot of people in my life,” said Istina. “But I think I can make that right by holding to this pure-hearted motto of universal and unconditional love, for everyone. No exceptions.” (Yael Chanoff)

Lessons of the Avalos campaign


By N’Tanya Lee

It’s the middle of the night. His two kids and wife are home in bed. Supervisor John Avalos, candidate for mayor, heads downtown in his beat-up family car. He parks and walks over to 101 Market Street, and casually starts talking to members of OccupySF. He’s a city official, but folks camped out are appreciative when they see he’s there to stand with them, to try to stop the cops from harassing them, even though its 1 a.m. and he should be in bed.

John Avalos was the first elected official to personally visit Occupy SF. It wasn’t a publicity stunt — his campaign staff didn’t even know he was going until it was over. He arrived and left without an entourage or TV cameras. This kind of moment — defined by John’s personal integrity and the strength of his personal convictions — was repeated week after week, and provides a much-needed model of progressive political leadership in the city.

John Avalos is more than “a progressive standard bearer,” as the Chronicle likes to call him. He’s also a Spanish-speaking progressive Latino, rooted in community and labor organizing, with a racial justice analysis and real relationships with hundreds of organizers and everyday people outside of City Hall. He’s demonstrated an authentic accountability to the disenfranchised of the city, to communities of color and working people, and he knows that ultimately the future of the city is in our hands.

Some accomplishments of John’s campaign for mayor are already clear: He consolidated the progressive-left with 19%, or nearly 40,000, first-place votes, despite the confusion of a crowded field; he came in a strong second to incumbent Ed Lee despite being considered a long shot even weeks before the election; after RCV tallies, he finished with an incredible 40% of the vote, demonstrating a much wider base of support across the city than he began with, and much broader than former frontrunners Leland Yee and David Chiu, who outspent him 3-1. He won the Castro, placed third in Chinatown (ahead of Yee), and actually won the election-day citywide vote. Not bad. In fact, remarkable, for a progressive Latino from a working class district in the southern part of town, running in his first citywide race.

I believe John Avalos demonstrated what can be accomplished with a new kind of progressive leadership — and suggests the elements of a new progressive coalition that can be created to win races in 2012, and again, in 2015.

It’s Monday afternoon, 1:35pm, time for our weekly Campaign Board meeting. John rushes in, after a dozen appointments already that day. The rest of us file into the ‘cave’ — the one private room in Campaign headquarters, with no windows, a makeshift wall and furniture that looks to be third-hand. The board makes the key strategy, message, and financial decisions. There are no high paid political consultants here. Most of us are, or have been, organizers. Today, we need to approve the campaign platform. Finally. We’ve decided to get people excited about our ideas, an agenda for change. We leave the meeting excited and nervous, wondering if anyone will get excited about the city creating its own Municipal Bank.

We were an unlikely crew to lead a candidate campaign — even a progressive one in San Francisco. We come from membership based community and labor organizations, and share a critique of white progressive political players and electeds who spend too few resources on building power through organizing and operate without accountability to any base. We are policy and politics nerds, but we hate traditional politics. Seventy percent of us are people of color — Black, Filipina, Latino, and Chinese. We are all women except John, the candidate, and nearly half of us are balancing politics with parenting.

The campaign board — including John himself—shared a vision for building progressive power. The campaign plan was explicit and specific about achieving outcomes that included winning room 200 but went beyond that central goal. We set out to strengthen progressive forces, to build towards the 2012 Supervisor races, and increase the capacity of the community-based progressive electoral infrastructure so we can keep building our collective power year-round, for the long-term.

We hope these victories will shape progressive strategy moving forward:

1. In just a few months, Team Avalos consolidated a new and unique progressive bloc. We brought together people and organizations who’d never worked together before — white bike riders and Latino anti-gentrification organizers, queer activists and African American advocates for Local Hire. The Avalos coalition was largely community forces: SF Rising’s base in working class Black, Latino, Filipino and Chinese communities; the Bike Coalition’s growing base of mostly white bike riders; affinity groups like Filipinos, Queers, Latinos and Arabs for Avalos; progressive Democrats; social networks of creative, young progressive activists affiliated with the League of Young Voters; and loyal families and neighborhood leaders from John’s own District 11. The campaign prioritized communicating to voters in four languages, and according to the Chinese press, John Avalos was the only non-Chinese candidate with a significant Chinese outreach program. There were stalwarts from progressive labor unions (most notably SEIU 1021 and USWW) who threw down — but overall, labor played it safe and invested resources in other guys. And then, in the great surprise development of the race, supporters of the new national occupy movement came to be a strong part of the Team Avalos base because the campaign was so well positioned to resonate with the call to take on the one percent.

2) Team Avalos built popular support for key progressive ideas. We used the campaign to build popular support for a citywide progressive agenda. Instead of leading with our candidate we led with bold, distinctive issues that provided a positive alternative vision to the economic crisis: Progressive taxation, municipal banking, and corporate accountability for living wage jobs instead of corporate tax breaks. By the end of the campaign, at least three other candidates came to support the creation of a city-owned bank, and the idea had enough traction that even the San Francisco Business Times was forced to take a position against it.

3) Team Avalos built the electoral capacity of grassroots organizations whose members have the most at stake if progressives gain or lose power in SF: poor and working-class communities of color. We developed the electoral organizing skills of a large new cohort of grassroots leaders and organizers of color with no previous leadership experience in a candidate campaign. They are ready for the next election.

For the last few months, I had the privilege of working with an unusual but extraordinary Avalos campaign team, who were exactly the right people for the right moment in history, to lead a long shot campaign to an unlikely, remarkable and inspiring outcome. Let’s build on these gains. In the coming weeks and months, we must be thorough in our analysis of this election, engage and expand the Avalos coalition base, and build unity around one or more collective demands of Mayor Lee from the left. And in time, we will have a progressive voting majority and a governing bloc in City Hall. We will win, with the mass base necessary to defend gains, hold our own electeds accountable, and truly take on the city’s one percent.

NTanya Lee was the Executive Director of Coleman Advocates for Children & Youth, and served as a volunteer chair of the Avalos for Mayor campaign board. You can find her now at USF or working on her new project about a long-term vision for left governance called Project 2040.


The one percent on the waterfront


EDITORIAL While Mayor Ed Lee struggles with the OccupySF encampment, another, very different group has its eyes on the city’s waterfront. On the edges of the ground where protesters are talking about the one percent of Americans that control the vast majority of the nation’s wealth, two major development projects aimed entirely at that very wealthy sliver are starting to move forward.

At 8 Washington and 75 Howard, developers want to build a total of 365 condominiums aimed at people with incomes that place them in the top sliver of the richest Americans. It will be a key test for the Ed Lee administration: Will he evict the Occupy protesters and allow the One Percent to claim choice property on the waterfront?

The 8 Washington project calls for 165 of what developer Simon Snellgrove says will be the most expensive condos ever built in San Francisco. The 12-story building, sitting on the edge of the Embarcadero, would include units selling for as much as $10 million, and even the low-end places would go for $2.5 million or more.

At 75 Howard, the Paramount Group and Morgan Stanley want to demolish a parking garage and erect a 284-foot tower with units that the San Francisco Business Times predicts would sell for at least $1,000 a square foot.

Just to be clear what we’re talking about here, a $2.5 million condo, according to real estate experts, would require that a buyer have $625,000 cash to put down and an income of more than $450,000 a year. Either that or millions in spare cash to plunk down.

That, needless to say, is not the majority of the working people in San Francisco.

There’s no conceivable planning or housing-policy rationale for either of these projects. They offer nothing that the city needs; there is absolutely no shortage of housing for people with that kind of income. In fact, allowing these two projects to proceed would directly violate the city’s own General Plan and every regional planning proposal for San Francisco’s housing mix. The General Plan states that some 60 percent of all the new housing built in San Francisco should be below market rate. Environmental sanity suggests that the city ought to be building housing for people who work here — high housing costs have driven thousands of local workers to live in the East Bay or further out, leading to long, energy-intensive commutes. And the more of this ultra-luxury housing the city builds, the more the housing balance gets disrupted — and the more rapidly San Francisco becomes a city of, by and for the One Percent.

The two projects have powerful support — among other things, Lee’s friend and ally Rose Pak is promoting 8 Washington, as is lobbyist Marcia Smolens. If Lee has any scrap of independence he’ll make it clear that both of these projects are dead on arrival.

Anonymous targets cop group that coordinated calls on Occupy


The hacker group Anonymous has targeted the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), taking down the website and publicly releasing home phone numbers, addresses, emails, and other personal information of directors and staff.

PERF became an activist target after media outlets, including the Guardian, highlighted the nonprofit think tank’s role in coordinating conference calls with mayors of major metropolitan cities about how to deal with Occupy encampments. Weeks after the conference calls were convened, a series of police raids targeted encampments in major U.S. cities such as New York, Oakland, and Portland.

On Nov. 19, Anonymous Operations tweeted, “A private NGO called #PERF is helping to train & coordinate #Occupy raids nationally … PERF, Expect us!”

The attack occurred the next day, and PERF staff and directors’ personal information was posted online. A screen shot tweeted by Anonymous showed an error message which read: PoliceForum.org seems to be down. 🙁

Reddit posted a hacker conversation about the action. Apparently, not everyone was impressed.

The executive director of PERF is Sherwin B. Chuck Wexler, a member of the Advisory Council for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. PERF board members include an assortment of police chiefs known for their track records of using heavy-handed tactics against protesters of the anti-globalization movement and mass demonstrations organized around Republican party national conventions. According to a bio for Wexler, “PERF’s research has a direct impact on policy and practice in policing around the world.”

PERF’s website is back up now. Before the attack occurred, the organization responded to the recent media attention with a public statement. “Over the last few days, the Police Executive Research Forum has been the subject of several false articles and blog postings alleging that we have been coordinating police crackdowns on Occupy protests,” the message reads. “This is not true. PERF conducted two conference calls for the sole purpose of allowing police chiefs to compare notes about their experiences with ‘Occupy’ protests.”

Anonymous is famous for releasing YouTube videos about its actions. Here’s the one C@b!nCr3w, the anonymous hackers taking credit for the attack, created about the PERF stunt. (“Don’t dox and drive” refers to “doxing,” hacker slang for releasing individuals’ personal data.)

J’Accuse: An open letter from a UC-Davis professor



Madeline Perez, our correspondent on the scene at the University of California-Davis, reports that Nathan Brown, an untenured  assistant professor in the Department of English, has written an eloquent  open letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi  demanding her  immediate resignation. She emailed his letter to the Guardian. Perez  says it has  further electrified the campus and given an emotional rationale to the Occupy Davis movement and unified the students in calling for Katehi’s resignation. As a result of his letter, Brown has become an instant campus hero and given his department new distinction. He was interviewed Monday morning  on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” show on KPFA Pacifica radio  and then on Monday night  MSNBC cable television shows. 

Brown in his interviews emphasized the point in his letter that “the fact is, the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this.  Many more people are learning it very quickly.”

Brown opens his letter by saying that he is a junior faculty member “who has taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word, I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis. You are not.”

He concludes: “I call  for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.”

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi
Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

What happened next?

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.

One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.

You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.


Nathan Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis

The dramatic video: UC-Davis Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi and her walk in shame



My granddaughter Madeline, a senior at the University of California-Davis, has been camping out with the Occupy movement at Davis.  And so I have been watching the demonstrations with outrage and awe.  Outrage at the pepper-spraying campus cops and the cowering Davis president Linda P.B. Katehi in her bunker. And with awe and admiration for the inspired and inspiring reaction of the Davis students. Let me summarize.

On Friday afternoon, the campus police moved to take down the tents of peaceful occupation on the campus.  Several protestors sat down on the sidewalk, linked arms, and refused to stand as the cops ordered. As bystanders chanted, “Don’t shoot the students, don’t shoot the students,”  the New York Times reported on Monday that “an officer shakes a pepper spray canister and walks before a line of seated protesters, spraying them. The protesters’ faces and clothes are quickly covered in the orange-tinted spray.

“Some protesters are heard screaming and crying as they are arrested. One bystander is heard shouting; “These are children! These are children!” The Times reported that 11 protesters were treated at the scene after being sprayed, and two of them were sent to the hospital.  Ten proresters were arrested on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and failure to disperse and were later released, according to the Times.

Katehi at first came forth with the usual UC robotic response: support the cops, to hell with the students. She then scheduled a press conference without notifying the students or giving them a chance to respond. However, the word leaked out and the students began gathering outside the building where the press conference was held.

You can read the account here.

According to the person recording the video, Lee Fang, Katehi had scheduled a 4pm press conference that was set to last an hour. During the press conference, protesters gathered outside the building and demanded to be heard, at which point Katehi refused to leave for several hours. Students eventually created a large pathway through which Katehi could leave and chanted “We are peaceful” until the Chancellor agreed to walk out to her car.

As you can see, the protesters’ silence is absolutely deafening. Having been a part of a supposedly “silent” march at Occupy Wall Street earlier this year, I was amazed at how unified the Occupy Davis protesters were. Also, right before Katehi gets into her car (at about the 1:36 mark), you can hear someone ask, “Did you feel at all trapped inside, Chancellor?” which is a direct reference to the justification the UC Davis police claimed for using pepper-spray during the protests. Phenomenal job, UC Davis protesters.

Here’s the video:


I have walked around the Davis campus and found what is happening there is happening on many other UC campuses: there is a vigorous building program at odds with all the talk of limited budgets and increased fees. I can see the massive UCSF/Mission Bay program from my office window on Mississippi Street at the bottom of Potrero Hill.  The buildings keep going up, the workmen keep working, the jolly press releases keep emerging, and the funds seem to gush forth without interruption.  Yet  the students and their families are screwed with ever escalating tuition and ever escalating debt–and all with little prospect for jobs after graduation. And California’s once world famous educational system is floundering in ignominy?  Can anyone in the UC administration cite a case where a campus building program has been stopped or seriously scaled back during this student and economic crisis? Thank God for students who know how to demonstratre peaceably and creatively.  Thank God for students who know how to force their chancellor to walk in shame before the world.



Pepper spray backlash continues to burn


Not only has Lt. John Pike, the police officer who liberally doused nonviolent college students with pepper spray in an incendiary show of excessive police force Nov. 18, become a meme — he’s also generated a raging controversy that has top officials at the University of California Davis in the crosshairs. The incident, which has triggered widespread outrage since videos of it went viral on YouTube, occurred after police responded to student protesters attempting to create an Occupy Davis encampment.

Sen. Leland Yee issued a letter to UC president Mark Yudof Nov. 21, calling for an independent investigation into the pepper spray incident rather than a task force handpicked by UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. The Davis chancellor, who has come under intense pressure since the incident as students call for her resignation, previously announced that she would create a committee to look into the matter and report back after 30 days.

“She gave 30 days to report back,” noted Adam Keigwin, Yee’s chief of staff. “It takes about 30 seconds to realize there’s been wrongdoing.”

In the letter, Yee expressed concern that “it is important that we do not leave the fox to guard the henhouse.” A press statement issued by his office was more direct, noting that Yee “called Katehi’s task force a sham.”

Yudof said Sunday that he would convene all 10 UC campus Chancellors to ensure proper law enforcement reactions in future protests.

Watch this clip to the end, and you’ll witness an incredible moment following the pepper spray incident, when UC Davis students banned together and chanted at police, “You can go!” After a few moments, the police appeared to listen to them, and retreated.

Video by YouTube user waxpancake

Some 5,000 students gathered at the UC Davis quad this afternoon to protest the now-infamous show of police brutality. Katehi waited in line to speak and then apologized to the students.

According to Yee’s press release, “Katehi’s salary is $400,000, reflecting a 27 percent hike from her predecessor. Her compensation package also includes a house provided by UC, $9,000 per year in automobile allowance, relocation expenses now and upon exiting the position, a promised faculty position after leaving the Chancellor’s office, a low-interest home loan after serving as Chancellor, and a generous pension and health care package, among other benefits.”

Sen. Leland Yee is urging all UC and CSU students and employees who are retaliated against or face disciplinary action as a result of their peaceful protest to contact his offices in San Francisco (415-577-7857) or San Mateo (650-340-8840).


Guardian editorial: The one per cent on the waterfront


EDITORIAL While Mayor Ed Lee struggles with the OccupySF encampment, another, very different group has its eyes on the city’s waterfront. On the edges of the ground where protesters are talking about the one percent of Americans that control the vast majority of the nation’s wealth, two major development projects aimed entirely at that very wealthy sliver are starting to move forward.

At 8 Washington and 75 Howard, developers want to build a total of 365 condominiums aimed at people with incomes that place them in the top sliver of the richest Americans. It will be a key test for the Ed Lee administration: Will he evict the Occupy protesters and allow the One Percent to claim choice property on the waterfront?

The 8 Washington project calls for 165 of what developer Simon Snellgrove says will be the most expensive condos ever built in San Francisco. The 12-story building, sitting on the edge of the Embarcadero, would include units selling for as much as $10 million, and even the low-end places would go for $2.5 million or more.

At 75 Howard, the Paramount Group and Morgan Stanley want to demolish a parking garage and erect a 284-foot tower with units that the San Francisco Business Times predicts would sell for at least $1,000 a square foot.

Just to be clear what we’re talking about here, a $2.5 million condo, according to real estate experts, would require that a buyer have $625,000 cash to put down and an income of more than $450,000 a year. Either that or millions in spare cash to plunk down.

That, needless to say, is not the majority of the working people in San Francisco.

There’s no conceivable planning or housing-policy rationale for either of these projects. They offer nothing that the city needs; there is absolutely no shortage of housing for people with that kind of income. In fact, allowing these two projects to proceed would directly violate the city’s own General Plan and every regional planning proposal for San Francisco’s housing mix. The General Plan states that some 60 percent of all the new housing built in San Francisco should be below market rate. Environmental sanity suggests that the city ought to be building housing for people who work here — high housing costs have driven thousands of local workers to live in the East Bay or further out, leading to long, energy-intensive commutes. And the more of this ultra-luxury housing the city builds, the more the housing balance gets disrupted — and the more rapidly San Francisco becomes a city of, by and for the One Percent.

The two projects have powerful support — among other things, Lee’s friend and ally Rose Pak is promoting 8 Washington, as is lobbyist Marcia Smolens. If Lee has any scrap of independence,  he’ll make it clear that both of these projects are dead on arrival.



Occupy Oakland’s short-lived new camp (VIDEO)


Police raided Occupy Oakland’s new encampment at Fox Square Park at 19th and Telegraph streets early Nov. 20. Some 30 tents had been set up at the park, which protesters entered Saturday evening after tearing down a chain-link fence surrounding the perimeter.

The camp was created following a Saturday afternoon march meant to highlight cuts to education which passed through the downtown Oakland banking district and stopped Lakeside Elementary School, one of five Oakland public schools that are slated for closure at the end of the school year due to budget cuts.

Occupy Oakland has called for general assembly at Frank Ogawa Plaza (renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by protesters) on Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. to talk about next steps.

Although Occupy Oakland’s home was short-lived, the Guardian was on hand to capture the moment when the fence came down and occupiers rushed in.

Earlier in the afternoon, an Oakland school teacher sounded off against the budget cuts.

Videos by Shawn Gaynor

Occupy Oakland reestablishing camp at 19th and Telegraph


By Shawn Gaynor and Rebecca Bowe

Following a rally and march from downtown Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza that may have been more than 2,000 strong, activists with Occupy Oakland tore down a fence that had been erected around Fox Square Park at 19th and Telegraph, the site organizers had announced would be the home of their new encampment, and began setting up tents.

The fence was in place when activists reached the park, and a line of police were positioned nearby. However, activists managed to tear down the fence, and police moved away from the park but were still standing by.

As of 5:45 p.m. Nov. 19, there were more than a dozen tents set up. Music was playing and occupiers were holding a dance party in the park. Shouts of “we need more tents!” could be heard.

The former site of the Occupy Oakland encampment — Frank Ogawa Plaza, which was renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by occupiers — has been muddied by sprinklers that are spraying water on the bare ground in frequent intervals. Police removed the encampment in a pre-dawn raid Nov. 14.

Speaking at a 2 p.m. rally, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 21 president Dan Coffman said, “The hedge fund managers and the bankers have been getting away with robbery. Where are the Justice Department indictments? The recession will only worsen unless we fight.”

ILWU Local 21 is engaged in a struggle against international grain exporter EGT in Longview, Washington. Occupy Oakland voted Nov. 18 to call for a port shutdown along the entire West Coast on Dec. 12.

According to the proposal that was passed unanimously by the Occupy Oakland general assembly last night, “The EGT is an international grain exporter led by Bunge LTD, a company constituted of 1% bankers whose practices have ruined the lives of the working class all over the world, from Argentina to the West Coast of the US. During the November 2nd General Strike, tens of thousands shutdown the Port Of Oakland as a warning shot to EGT to stop its attacks on Longview. Since the EGT has disregarded this message, and continues to attack the Longshoremen at Longview, we will now shut down ports along the entire West Coast.”

In terms of the still relatively young and action-packed life of the Occupy movement, Dec. 12 is ages from now. For today, Nov. 19, the question will be whether the activists can hold their ground at the new encampment.



Dick Meister: The lessons of Ohio


By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has drawn some important lessons from last week’s election in Ohio that repealed a state law severely limiting the collective bargaining rights of public employees. Worse, it threatened to inspire passage of similar anti-bargaining laws elsewhere.

Listen to Trumka, a man who obviously knows what he’s talking about. In an article he wrote for Reader Supported News, he cites post-election polls showing that more than half of Ohio’s voters correctly “perceived the law as a political maneuver by Gov. John Kasich and state Republicans to weaken labor unions, rather than a genuine effort to make state government more efficient.”

Another poll, done for the AFL-CIO, showed that more than half the voters also found that Kasich and his allies “are putting the interests of big corporations ahead of average working people.”<–break->

Voters everywhere in the mid-term elections clearly wanted change. But, as Trumpka says, they did not want “political maneuvers and overreach” like those of Kasich and Republican legislators. They want effective action to curb unemployment, create jobs and deal with the other severe economic problems facing the country.

As Trumka notes, public employees, union members, Democrats and liberals voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Ohio law, but so did a majority of voters “from households with no public employee, workers without union representation and independents – as well as 30 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of conservatives.”

One of the key lessons Trumka draws from Ohio’s election is that “the myth of the pampered public employee has been busted. Public employees didn’t cause the economic crisis and they’re not the enemy. Demonization of public employees is neither a strategy nor a solution and the heartland Americans who voted to restore rights for public employees understood that.”

The election also reinforced the continued need for working people, public and private employees alike, to join closely together. That’s what happened in Ohio. There, as Trumka notes, “firefighters, teachers and other public employees were joined by plumbers, pilots and all kinds of private sector employees to win. Worker to worker, neighbor to neighbor, the message spread, and what began as an attempt to divide workers flopped famously. In the end, working people’s solidarity was the message.”

Politicians could also learn important lessons – if they will. For the Ohio voters “showed that when fundamental rights and livelihoods are targeted, working people will not only defend themselves, but come back stronger.”

The outcome of the Ohio vote should show politicians seeking office that it would be wise for them to pay much more attention to the wishes of working and middle class voters than to those of the wealthy and privileged. Says Trumka:

“Cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires, scapegoating working Americans and their unions and downsizing Social Security and Medicare may get you a standing ovation from the 1%, but the voters who decide elections will not be fooled – and you may just get more than you bargained for.”

Trumka’s correct. But despite the results in Ohio and the lessons they hold for the anti-labor political right, many undoubtedly will continue what the AFL-CIO sees as “part of Wall Street’s strategy to chip away at collective bargaining rights, piece by piece, law by law, until unions and collective bargaining rights are destroyed.”

Working people and their unions can be reasonably certain, at least, that they’ll have strong support in trying to withstand the attack – including support from the Occupy Wall Street movement, which Trumka credits with “redefining the political narrative.”

The next major test will come in the presidential and congressional elections in 2012. They’re especially looking for support from the swing voters who supported President Obama in the 2008 election and generally have the same political views as the majority of Ohio voters.

Trumka describes the swing voters as “working Americans with modest incomes, moderate views and little patience for polices that aren’t fair and don’t work.”

He says politicians seeking election or re-election next year must heed them and “support public policies for the 99 percent – policies that create jobs, invest in America’s future, safeguard Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and promote fiscal sanity by requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.”

OK, that’s asking for much more than we’ve been getting. But the Ohio vote demonstrated that it is possible to garner the votes necessary to overcome the forces that would deny us vital economic and political rights.

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

Labor ready to fight Occupy eviction


Tim Paulson, director of the San Francisco Labor Council, just told me that he’s got as many as 500 union members on alert to stand with the OccupySF encampment if the city attempts to evict the protesters. The Labor Council has put together a communications system to let members who have volunteered to help know when a showdown with the police is coming, and the volunteers are ready to spend as much as 24 hours at Justin Herman Plaza, and if necessary, in jail.

“We mobilized for last night, but nothing happened,” he said. “We’re in a state of constant vigilance.”

Paulson noted that the San Francisco encampment “is the symbol of the Occupy Movement.”

The solidarity of San Francisco labor will make it considerably more difficult for Mayor Ed Lee to send in the police and break up the camp. The idea that he would be ordering the arrests not only of several hundred Occupy protesters but a large contingent of local labor leaders and union members has to be giving him second (and third, and fourth) thoughts.

And whatever the outcome, the connenctions between labor and Occupy are critical to building and sustaining a national movement to demand economic justice. It’s great to see the SF Labor Council in the heart of the fight.

OccupySF is worth the investment


Thirteen labor and community leaders wrote to Mayor Ed Lee Nov. 17 asking him not to evict the OccupySF protesters. The message of the hand-delivered letter: It’s worth the time and effort the city will have to make to allow the encampment to remain. It was signed by Conny Ford, OPEIU Local 3, Bob Offer-Westord, Coalition on Homelessness, Pilar Sciavo, California Nurses Association, Elizabeth Alexander, SEIU 1021, Rev. Carol Been, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Steve Williams, POWER, Gabriel Haaland, SEIU 1021, Tim Paulson, San Francisco Labor Council, Kate Huge, La Raza Centro Legal, Gordon Mar, Jobs with Justice, Forrest Schmidt, ANSWER, Shaw-San Liu, Chinese Progressive Association, and Mike Casey, UNITED-HERE Local 2.

Here’s the full letter:

Dear Mr. Mayor:

Occasionally a movement takes hold of the imagination of a people, resulting in major social and economic shifts in public policy. Thirty to forty years ago, such a movement driven by a coalition of the religious right and corporate America and spearheaded by the National Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, changed the course of our nation for the worse.

With the election of Ronald Reagan and scores of corporate-backed politicians since then, our nation has seen a reversal of the progressive gains made in the decades immediately preceding 1980, from the New Deal to the War on Poverty.

In yesterday’s meeting, you and several city department heads questioned whether it is “worth the investment” to meet and work with the SF Occupy movement to address certain health and safety issues. We think it is.

The national Occupy Wall Street movement has brought dramatic focus to the disproportionate concentration of wealth and power held by the top 1% of America.  They have drawn broad attention to the devastation wrought by Wall Street upon communities throughout the country:  home foreclosures, record unemployment, attacks on immigrants, union busting, school closures, social service cutbacks, etc.

Over the years, in our own city, a number of legendary movements and causes have led to meaningful and lasting progressive change. The 1934 General Strike and the I-Hotel are but two examples. These and other struggles such as the Civil Rights movement are iconic not based on whether they resulted in victory or defeat, but because these struggles inspired and trained a new generation of organizers and activists committed to economic and social change.

Whether the Occupy movement is helping usher in yet another shift remains to be seen. But of this we are certain: the City of San Francisco working with Occupy SF to support their vision and work is “worth the investment.”

Provocative police actions in Oakland resulted in unnecessary injuries and threatened the very safety of the community they’ve sworn to protect.

We appeal that you not shut down the occupation of Justin Herman Plaza and continue to meet, daily if necessary, in order to work through the issues connected with Occupy SF.

SFBG Radio: Occupy, now and in the future


The authorities keep cracking down on the Occupy encampments, but the movement isn’t going away — and by Spring, it could be even bigger. Tim and  Johnny discuss after the jump.

WillOccupySurvive by endorsements2011