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Day Of Decision
From morning till night on Tuesday, thousands of activists in San Francisco protested the California Supreme Court's decision to uphold Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban passed by voters in November.
After gathering in the morning at a Castro neighborhood church, activists marched to the Supreme Court court building at Civic Center, joining hundreds of others awaiting the decision. Soon after the verdict came at 10 am, protesters marched to Grove and Van Ness, where they sat in the street and blocked traffic for hours as police arrested them one by one. About 175 people were arrested, processed, given minor citations, and released in time for more demonstrations in the evening.
Around 5 pm, more than 1,000 protesters again converged at Civic Center. After hearing from several speakers, the crowd marched to Market Street, blocking the city's main thoroughfare at rush hour.
Departing from traditional San Francisco protest routes, the march proceeded downtown to Yerba Buena Gardens. Organizers planned a lengthy (1.5 hour!) rally with Taiko drummers, children throwing bouquets, and local politicians, but the crowd soon grew impatient. Around 7:30 pm, after a skirmish between police and a woman, people began calling for a march to the Castro, and a segment of the gathering took off chanting, "Out of the park and into the streets!"
A couple hundred people, incluing numerous members of groups such as ANSWER and the Revolutionary Communist Party, quicky converged on the Castro, joining residents and others blocking the Castro and Market intersection. After a battle of the bullhorns, a smaller group headed back down Market Street toward the Union Square shopping district, but changed plans when they met up with hundreds more marchers following a sound truck provided by the Late Night Coalition.
The sound truck took up a position on Castro Street around 8:30 pm (just as the Yerba Buena rally was finally ending), and the gathering took on a party atmosphere, to the dismay of some participants who had come out to protest. "The gay community has always smiled in the face of adversity," said former SF Emperor John Weber. "There's a time to party, a time to shake your ass, but this is not that time. For the first time ever, the state Supreme Court took away people's rights."
The Castro crowd dissipated until only a handful of people were left around 11 pm. Activists vowed to continue their protests, including the "Meet in the Middle" actions in Fresno this weekend and a rally at the Supreme Court (SF Civic Center) on June 3.
(including this reporter, left)
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