This Washington Post article is a pretty good summary of yesterday’s events. The reference to “hundreds” turning out in counter-protest is inaccurate because we were spread out in much larger numbers all over the city: Dolores Park, Castro, Civic Center, Alamo Square, the Pacific Ocean under the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field (I presume), Pacific Beach, Golden Gate Park, and I don’t know where else.
Friends and I were at three of the events: the Dolores Park dance party and the Castro and Civic Center rallies. (The DP and Castro crowds ultimately marched to Civic Center, but we went ahead of them.)
After the National Park Service allowed Patriot Cowards to gather on the federal land of Crissy Field, our city officials placed strict security precautions in place, including fencing off the area so there was only one entrance, and creating a list of prohibited objects so comprehensive that violence would not be possible, short of a good old fashioned slug-fest enacted on a massive scale.
When Patriot Cowards jumped from Crissy Field to Alamo Square Friday evening, our city officials responded immediately, fencing off Alamo Square and setting up law enforcement there.
Enforcement and emergency vehicles at the Civic Center rally were impressive, making me feel that if Patriot Cowards showed up there looking for trouble, we would be safe. Before arriving at Civic Center, I felt safe in Dolores Park and in the Castro because those areas were also visibly secure.
Shortly after we arrived at Civic Center, we heard Patriot Cowards had fled to Pacifica, which is hilarious because Pacifica is a sleepy, suburban beach town, with nothing to do and no main gathering place. For all the impact they had, Patriot Cowards should have saved their airfare and accommodations costs and stayed home under their rocks.
Last week, when I saw the list of all the available counter-rallies, I felt annoyed that everyone had to have a thing and we couldn’t organize in one place. As my friend Rosie said yesterday of the Marxist rally, “Who has time to be a Marxist right now?”
But in retrospect, had we all assembled in one area, Patriot Cowards would have had numerous alternatives once Crissy Field no longer served their need for violence. Our citywide presence led to the just and funny result of the Nazi cowards fleeing San Francisco, as our officials and the overwhelming majority of our residents wanted.
Those who roll their eyes at the “San Francisco hippie” stereotype would have found parts of yesterday downright cringeworthy. For example, the Civic Center rally culminated with a Michael Franti concert, at which the assembled put our arms around each other’s shoulders and sang along to John Lennon’s “Imagine.” It was beautiful and hokey and necessary and worthy of Saturday Night Live, and I loved it.
Good for all of us who spoke out and showed up and erected physical barriers, both gated and human, to Patriot Cowards. They are trolling Berkeley today, but I hope and believe they won’t try to come back to San Francisco.