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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism
July 8 G8 protest photos
I will append my photos and description of this protest which started at 16th and Mission in San Francisco in response to the G8 meeting held in Scotland. Most of the event occurred after dark, so many of these photos had to be lightened and are very fuzzy. Video was also carried out by myself largely as a legal measure to record what happened, so this will not be included here yet, but is available to anyone who was arrested when I was near. Leave a note on indybay. Video camera are very worthwhile because I already couldn't quite piece together what happened on 23rd street after the piece of foam under the car started to smoke, and then the officer was hurt half the block down the street, because there were so many things happening at once.
I have not been able to fully think out my critique and response to this protest, so I will give some initial thoughts, and then proceed with a straightforward recounting of what happened as I experienced it from my position in the protest.
The singlehanded ending of the Kyoto agreement within hours of the London Underground Bombing on July 7th is a very negative development which could probably cost more than the already budget-busting Iraq/Afghanistan military intervention. Bush&Co are very unpopular internationally, and now have a negative approval rating in the U.S., but the stakes are such that we can't afford to lose at this time. It's not a matter of how we could improve the world, but how to keep it from getting worse. Democrats, such as Al Gore, may have had acceptable opinions regarding global warming issues, but their positions regarding poverty in the third world were highly unrealistic - they don't acknowledge the decades of interference such as our assassination of African leaders such as Patrice Lumumba, and support of Mobutu Sese Seko and the 27 year war in Angola. Progressives can't afford to lose based on their ineptness. Tonight there was some juvenile behavior which I'm glad that other progressive groups can distance themselves from.
I appreciated the flyers about an anarchist alternative that a few were handing out, but many of the initial logistics, style, presentation, and then the implementation of this march were faulty, and were not attractive to the general public. The culture and demographic of the participants was pretty narrow, with most people in the same outfit. Sorry to use an ageist putdown, but it seems like there were the signs of a lot of smart teens who were a bit out of touch or maladjusted due to having been put in a special program in elementary school - I can't think of the right adjective.
There were some good intentions, but some people were lucky the police weren't being as nasty as they have to many activists in the past, because security precautions weren't being taken. After the one violent skuffle (pics below), you all are really going to have to recognize this and not repeat this in the same way.
Initially I was asking people if we were going to head downtown and how we might approach going there, but instead the march headed off into the Mission district which is filled with lots of low power immigrants who already have to deal with a neighborhood that gets trashed by graffiti, unequal policing, and threatening people on the corners so you can't let your kids outside. After our initial loop to hopefully pick up a few people on Valencia as we briefly turned the heads of a few hipsters smoking in bars, we should have left that neighborhood. When I was in high school, there was a group called the RCP (revolutionary communist party) which liked to march through the Mission district pretending that they were a vanguard leading the poor to an uprising, and there were too many similarities that shouldn't happen again.
Next I'll describe a step by step account with photos
These are pictures of signs people had relating to the developments at the G8 meeting in Scotland
Others have posted better pictures without lense fog of other signs, so I will skip some others.
There was a crowd of about 300 people at Mission and 16th, and a few more joined as the group started moving down Mission street. Those red flags are for IWW, and are not communist. There was a large police presence at this time, and rows of officers on foot. A commanding officer ordered many people walking in a traffic lane onto the sidewalk. This is a much faster escalation than I had experienced at previous protests. People started to stretch down the sidewalk and it was difficult to judge what was happening ahead.
When people turned right towards Valencia at 22nd, this was the first incident of property vandalism. Nothing except for a tense period had occurred previously. I had been speculating on a quick detention situation similar to mass arrests that have occurred at many other protests (see: http://www.indybay.org/news/2005/07/1750996_comment.php#1751042 ) but this did not transpire, despite the large number of police.
There are other photos of this available. On Valencia, the police quickly came in to order a filmmaker who did not have his film camera, but had rigged up a bicycle sound cart, to go to the sidewalk. They kept the cart, and even though the man recited vehicle code that made this setup legal, they detained him for a citation. People were moving quickly down the street towards Mission again (around 21st or 20th) that many people felt they had to run and follow that again. The group became forked into several clusters.
I noticed that the newswire has many pictures of vandalism damage that started to occur right after this moment, so I will perhaps append photos later that aren't replicated. This is a photo of police in Chevy Tahoe vans making announcements, and lines of police. What is notable is that right after the arrest of the filmmaker, many of us hardly saw any police vehicles for the next half hour or so, and just a few on foot near 16th and Mission where the group reconvened.
Various participants reconvened, after some people made cell phone calls to other groups, and one man burned a 13-colonies american flag, which was well photographed.
When the group decided to move back up Mission (should have veered north!! instead), the large group of police weren't there. This felt ominous, as though there was some sort of plan in the works which we didn't understand. In my experience with ANSWER marches, there were two deviations from the San Francisco pattern. First, San Francisco usually decides to facilitate small unpermitted marches rather than immediately intervening and threatening law enforcement action, and secondly, usually when things ratchet right over an imaginary threshhold line, suddenly an order will be given to detain every person on the street, including senior citizens with shopping bags, foreign tourists etc. Instead, for the next 20 minutes here, it seemed like most police were not being directed by a central commander, but were making decisions what to do on their own.
The group went up to around 22nd street, and a fraction of the crowd was running ahead and doing property damage, movement of newspaper boxes into the street, and littering trashcans. A few people told me of reports of people near them who were very out-of-touch slapping the windows of local coffee shops and having no understanding or agreement with a larger fraction of the crowd who seemed to be looking for 'corporate targets', which are somewhat scarce in the neighborhood. I mildly yelled over at someone throwing paint at a PG&Electric payment station that it wasn't necessarily a target. However, going back to photograph paint later on, it was hard to tell what had been left by this group amidst the graffiti already all over the walls, with many businesses in the area having rubberized windows to avoid being broken.
Someone broke out the Skechers shoestore window, but no one took any shoes. They tried to throw paint at the wells fargo but the paint bounced off. Someone tried to throw something at Vanguard property, but it had no scratch on it.
Also, there were two Public Works type trucks already following behind cleaning up the mess like after a big parade, but I didn't see any police.
Okay. Leaving a few photos out, this is just after the start of the sequence of events that left a police officer with a bloody head. The group went back to Valencia by a Chevron station. Someone said that earlier there had been vandalism there, and it looked like damaged credit card swiper windows. At 23rd and Valencia, some guy seemed to be pushing a free auto trader newsbox into the street. A single police car was going by, and the officer made the decision to swiftly drift the car 75m down the street as he focused on this man, and got out and started chasing him. Where I was, I walked up and looked at the car on top of a big foam sign someone had brought. It started to smoke at this time, although someone later said it was a firework - but I believe it was smoking styrofoam. At this point, even though the block isn't that long, so many people were going by and things were developing that it was difficult to keep track. AFter taking this photo, I noticed an arrest taking place three carlengths down on the south side of the street, and a lot of protesters running over where about 4 officers were wrestling with a person (I don't know if they were resisting). It became tense when one officer became alarmed and pulled out a gun with a laser scope and yelled at the crowd to go away. Meanwhile, other officers were pulling up and seemed to be calmly walking among the crowd and were not engaged in the same idea of crowd control as the officer with the (taser??) gun. So some protesters were talking with police. As I was fumbling with a camera, and didn't get a good photo (my camera has a 2 second delay), and video was waving around, a Legal observer with green hat ran up to the officer doing the crowd control with the gun and said there was an officer down about 50m further down the block. Many of us walked over to look at that, and it looked rather shocking. I interpreted that the officer had broken his hand sharply on glass and was dripping a big pool from a punctured artery on the ground. He was sitting back on his heels and touching his head. Later some others recounted what had happened. Apparently this was the first officer who had driven up and parked on the foam sign, and chased someone (I don't know if it was the man with the newsbox, the person who had had the sign, or anyone else) and then either the person being chased or a 2nd person (but it was a single person kicking him) lashed out and kicked or punched him in the head, as at least a dozen other people ran down the sidewalk. He might have lost a tooth, and had quite a bit of blood, so perhaps there was a tool with sharp edge involved?
Again, it was difficult to tell how he had been cut. I'll append other lower quality pictures from this scene in comments.
As you would expect, within 45 seconds, many police cars pulled up. They went to this officer first (sanders?) and then started clearing people off of 23rd street. I gave my video camera to someone else became I didn't want to stand near angry officers with tasers who were coming to this scene. The legal observer started filling out a report of what he had seen for the police. Others stood around talking. A few people got into arguments with the police as they were being pushed off of 23rd that made me queasy, because there was all this blood, and they were demanding their 1st amendment right to assemble, and while most were distracted and a few seemed especially calm and were engaging in calm debate and discussion with protesters, a couple police looked angry. The first amendment is a legal structure, and courts have called that there is a list of instances where the state can override assembly, or the 1st amendment doesn't apply.