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San Francisco | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Womyn

Die-In at the Ferry Building to Protest Healthcare Bill's Abortion Ban Pt. I
by Eye on Women's Rights
Saturday Dec 5th, 2009 4:30 PM
Women’s Lives Are Human Lives!
Health Care for People, Not Profits!

DIE-IN at the Ferry Building in San Francisco protested the Stupac Amendment (abortion ban) and
demanded quality single payer health care for all.

The demo began with a rehearsal on the median strip opposite the SF Ferry Building. At about 11:45am the protesters staged the die-in in front of the Ferry building crowded with shoppers. The dead were taunted by the satire group "Billionaires for Wealthcare", who sang to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic:

In every other wealthy nation healthcare is a right.
But not here in America, no not without a fight!
We’re fighting for the right to monstrous profits day and night.
Let's save the status quo!

The die-in was organized by activists with Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights, Direct Action for Single Payer, CodePink, Single Payer Now and Progressive Democrats of America. Also participating: the Raging Grannies, Billionaires for Wealthcare, and World Can't Wait.
§Donning t-shirts and signs
by Eye on Women's Rights Saturday Dec 5th, 2009 4:30 PM


§rehearsing the act of dying-in...
by Eye on Women's Rights Saturday Dec 5th, 2009 4:30 PM

...in advance of the real event
§Fliers to distribute to onlookers
by Eye on Women's Rights Saturday Dec 5th, 2009 4:30 PM

Demonstrators divvy up the fliers to be passed out to shoppers
§Many gathered to march and die
by Eye on Women's Rights Saturday Dec 5th, 2009 4:30 PM

§As the march to the real die-in in front of Ferry Bldg started...
by Eye on Women's Rights Saturday Dec 5th, 2009 4:30 PM

The Billionaires for Wealthcare paused for one last photo.
§Bilingual sign
by Eye on Women's Rights Saturday Dec 5th, 2009 4:30 PM

§"World Can't Wait" Sign
by Eye on Women's Rights Saturday Dec 5th, 2009 4:30 PM

§Another protester joins the march
by Eye on Women's Rights Saturday Dec 5th, 2009 4:30 PM

§Billionaires and World Can't Wait
by Eye on Women's Rights Saturday Dec 5th, 2009 4:30 PM

Billionaires in the foreground, World Can't Wait with sign. Both groups ready themselves to create a scene in front of the Ferry Bldg.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Sally Hiebert
Tuesday Dec 8th, 2009 2:53 PM
10 pm Saturday Night Dec 5, after my market day chores are done

Hi Folks --

I am a vendor at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. I want to tell you all what happened for US today. I am hoping that you all are truly well intentioned and will get how misguided and inappropriate your choice of venue today was.

I and all my fellow farmers and artisanal food producers work ALL WEEK to come to the market on Saturday and make our living. Saturday is when we get paid for the work we do. We have 6 HOURS to make ALL THE WORK we do ALL WEEK pay. Many of us travel very far to get to the market. Our customers come to the market to support us and to share the life-giving energy and joy we bring to the food we produce for them.

You came and stole an hour of my living from me today during the busiest hours of the market day. You stole from every business you funeral processed by and 'performed' in front of. That would be like me lifting a day's pay out of your paycheck, no chance to get it back. You brought
horrible, self-righteous, negative energy into our beautiful vibrant life-giving awesome place of business. You yelled at us and our customers like we were the cause of your upset. You played dead all over the pavement. You sang your ever so clever re-lyriced Christmas Carols all dressed up like you were in a play while standing DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF OUR BUSINESS SPACE that we pay for? You stole time from us and time is money in our sweet 6 hour venue. You effectively COMPLETELY SHUT DOWN ALL OUR BUSINESS AND SCARED ALL OUR CUSTOMERS AWAY.

And the kicker is, probably all of us -- farmers, producers and our customers, actually agree with or have sympathy for your cause. You were preaching to the choir as if we were your enemy, not caring that you were causing harm to whom you were preaching. You didn't change my mind about what's going on in Congress with health care, but you most certainly put my ability to take care of my health at risk. Most of us, the farmers and producers who sell at the market, don't have health care. We work very hard, on our own, not part of a larger workplace like most of you probably belong to, and health insurance is not something most of us can afford. So if something were to happen to one of us this week -- you effectively cost us the money we would need to pay for it.

You treated us like we are your worst enemy. Was that your intent?? I am hoping you all really had no idea how destructive your ill conceived 'play' was to us today. I am guessing that someone who doesn't understand how all we good people make our living had a clever idea and you all went along with it without thinking through the huge negative impact you would have???

And who were you performing for? The news, I think. Certainly not for us.

I see that your websites invite anyone who wants to to join you for a 'low risk, high visibility' outing at our farmers market. Low risk to whom? I didn't see ANY ONE OF YOU offering your paycheck to reimburse us for the money you stole from us. You acted without thought or care for the consequences of your actions. Like kids who don't pay the bills.

You were like a bunch of kids who found out at school that there were some school policy changes in the works that they didn't like. And those policy changes grated on them and they felt bad. And then one kid said, "Hey! Let's all go over to my neighbor's house after school. Martha and Don, they're working late today. And let's eat all their food and drink everything we can find and leave all the lights on and play the TV and the stereo REALLY LOUD and maybe have a hot tub and do our laundry, too. And stand out on the lawn and sing clever songs. That will make us feel better. And the NEWS CAMERAS will come over and see what we did! And we can tell them we did it because we are mad about the policy changes at school! That will show them! What a good idea. And while we're at it, let's invite any other kids who want to come, the more the merrier! Really make a point for those cameras. It will be great! I mean, no problem right, it's all just sitting there, we may as well use it! And Martha and Don can just buy more food and stuff later."

It's hard for me to believe that you meant to be as insensitive and hostile as you were. You all looked like you are probably nice people, but what you did today was not nice. You also all looked old enough that you do pay your own bills, yet you had no respect for how we pay ours. We are not your enemy and neither are our customers, and yet you treated us as if we were. What you did today was not effective. Nobody listened to you, watched you. Everybody who could ran away til you were gone. Those of us who couldn't leave didn't have our opinions changed by your show. We couldn't wait til you left. Your performance today was vain and self-serving and certainly did your cause no good with any of us. Your choice of venue -- our place of business -- was misguided and harmful.

(Actually, after sleeping on this letter before sending it, I heard your performance was all over the Sunday morning news in San Francisco and I realize your show was not for us, it was for the news. At our expense.)

You had no ear to hear real, good, common people asking you to leave our place of business. You effectively crashed our party and treated us like we were wrong to ask you to leave. The Ferry Building parking lot and surrounding areas may be a public place the rest of the week, but on Saturdays we actually pay a lot of money to be there. We rent that space. You marched into our grocery store. We had and have every right to ask you to leave. You were belligerent and self righteous and so engrossed in the drama and the PC-ness of what you thought you were doing that you walked all over A LOT of really good people who all agree with you anyway???? What were you thinking?

Personally, I think you all owe us an apology. I would like to know that you understand that your local farmers market was an inappropriate venue for your protest. Won't make me back the earnings you cost me by offending my customers away, but I would like to know that you get the
full effect you had, not just the one you thought you were creating.


Sally Hiebert
Cap'n Mike's Holy Smoke LLC


by Jane
Tuesday Dec 8th, 2009 4:14 PM
Hi Sally,

We found the negativity that was directed at the healthcare and abortion rights action pretty shocking, and while I understand how hard vendors at farmer's markets work to provide goods to the community, we were mobile and did not remain in place for more than 5 minutes at a time. Did that honest drive away that much business? Can you quantify the difference from the week before last versus this one? This was an action that had no intent of targeting vendors, but one that was meant to challenge the ordinary and make people think.

Furthermore I regret that you're referring to us as children playing at someone's house. How ridiculous. This action was to demonstrate the effects of lack of healthcare on millions of Americans, and to be received so negatively from a progressive community of San Francisco vendors is just shocking. It is exemplary of lacking solidarity and pervasive individuality & self-absorption that is laden in the US. (I think of transit strikes in France and how workers commuting to work, while inconvenienced, stand strong with their fellow workers on strike - something that would never happen in the US because we're all so caught up the rat race.)

There is a bigger picture - and it requires respect and solidarity. So I apologize if we were not effective in conveying our respect, because many of us frequent farmers markets and very much love what they provide to the community (I prefer the Berkeley ones and going to Civic Center because they tend to be more affordable, and I'm pretty poor these days). But if you allege a place of "vibrancy, that is life-giving and awesome" I would consider not spitting such venom at peaceful demonstrators next time around, and think about situation we all face - that we live in a country that lets people die so that profits can be made.

Respectfully,
Jane
by Frances Griffin
Monday Dec 14th, 2009 1:15 AM
I was at the rally in question in front of the Ferry Building as part of the satirical group, Billionaires for Wealthcare. The rally and die-in took place in an open area some distance away from any vendors. That was the announced event.

I gather from what others tell me that quite a bit later the group moved on and was then near vendors for short periods of time. As so often happens it is when the main event is over or is breaking up that conflicts, small or large,occur.

As for the appearance of "play" versus "work," be advised that a lot of research and planning and work goes into putting on an event, though some enjoyment may be had in the execution of it.
We work hard to educate ourselves, our legislators and the public and take public outreach very seriously.
by JD
Saturday Jan 23rd, 2010 12:49 PM
"You came and stole an hour of my living from me today during the busiest hours of the market day."

"You stole time from us and time is money in our sweet 6 hour venue."
Which is it Sally, 1 hour? 6 Hours? And is this public space or what?

I too support several of our local farmers markets. Most of them understand what community means, you come into our community and we have similar concerns even if we don't always agree with one another. Many of us support farmers markets because they are sustainable.

But when someone starts using the words "horrible, self-righteous, negative" in relation to free speech about human rights, I don't find that to be very sustainable. I wonder if you're as bothered when thousands of anti-choicers hold their annual free ride down the Embarcadero as you are by this little group. Food for thought.