Moderate Mom Gets in the Thick of Occupation SF

Written by Kat Anderson. Posted in Events, Opinion, Politics

Published on October 16, 2011 with 5 Comments

Carl Hall, a union activist and former San Francisco Chronicle science writer, teamed up with attorney Kat Anderson, a self-described "moderate mom" who ran for District 2 supervisor last year, to provide the following perspective on Saturday's OccupySF demonstration, a protest march that drew as many as 10,000 in solidarity with the global and ever-widening Occupy Wall Street movement. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Kat Anderson with Carl Hall, special to FogCityJournal.com

October 16, 2011

My political interests are no secret. I ran for supervisor in moderate District 2 last year. But some of my supporters may be surprised to discover that I got my start in SF politics through a progressive cause. When I was a Hastings law student in 1991, I was active in the SF anti-war movement, organizing and marching in solidarity with political groups and labor unions.

That experience taught me the importance of civic engagement and the need to exercise our First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceful assembly. I learned first-hand the importance of finding common ground with those of differing viewpoints.

It also took the blinders off.

No longer could I think that news events are reported accurately or even in an unbiased way by the mainstream media. Despite claims of objectivity, and the good intentions of many individual journalists, I came to see that the powers behind the curtain can find ways to ignore, obfuscate and/or marginalize those who would dare to question authority and shake up the status quo.

With that in mind, I took a journalist-turned-union business agent friend’s suggestion that we meet up at the San Francisco Federal Reserve on Saturday and see what Occupy SF was up to for the day. When I got there at 2:30 p.m., the bullhorns were blasting. Thousands of people were pouring from the sidewalks and Muni stations to congregate on every corner near the month-old encampment.

My friend was passing out leaflets about a labor struggle at Verizon on the East Coast. People were making signs and practicing chants. Unlike most of those I saw at the core of the protest, I had no particular agenda, other than trying to make sense of this nascent movement.

What is the message? What do the protesters want to achieve?

I saw different answers everywhere I looked. There were placards like “Stop Corporate Greed,” “Be a Part of the 99%” and “Don’t Hate, Legislate.” There were other less discreet messages, too, like “Unfuck the World,” and “If you fuck us, we multiply.” While a bit disorienting, there is a refreshing directness even in those slogans.

While this movement is growing, the core message still goes begging. I’m hoping that as this worldwide group therapy session builds, it will mature into a coherent call to action – something that will make sense to millions of ordinary people, something that can make a difference.

It could fizzle out and leave a lot of worked-up people more disillusioned than ever.

There are reasons to be optimistic. Despite all the claptrap about anarchists, the march Saturday began and ended peaceably. We were escorted without incident by SF’s finest. We marched from the Federal Reserve towards the commercial district, sending out the siren call for bystanders to join us. The welcoming and nonthreatening tone made a difference: some of the bystanders joined in, sending cheers through the crowd.

Some want to marginalize and vilify participants in these demonstrations. I saw the truth: These protesters are not thugs or vandals or wasted student dissidents unable or unwilling to find a job.

I walked among 20-, 30- and 40-somethings, parents with babies, grandparents, teachers, people with bikes and skateboards, men in drag, and yes, the occasional “scary” looking anarchist-type. But mostly it was a mass of everyday citizens – people a lot like me.

There were thousands of us! Of course, the mainstream media did not report our numbers. The Sunday Chron buried the story on A11, putting a short local insert into a routine wire service roundup, and did not even attempt to estimate the crowd size. My estimate: at least 10,000 people marching, and it snowballed as we moved past Union Square and up Powell, through the cable car turnaround and back up Market toward the Civic Center.

The march ended in a rally on the steps of City Hall. The participants filled Civic Center Plaza. Some of the marches during the anti-war movement were much bigger. But this is only starting. Considering the stage we are in, this was a remarkable show of peaceful democracy in our streets. We were fun-loving but serious-minded – the kind of demonstration I was proud to be in.

One young man apologized to me for stumbling into my bike. Another young woman gave me a hug, just because. Even the cops seemed relaxed.

My conclusion from Saturday’s events is that people are responding emotionally to a very draining time in our nation’s history. The power brokers are bleeding the people economically. The gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is growing, with cancerous effects already appearing.

Fortunately, we do not suffer alone. Occupy Wall Street has gone global. We ARE coming together now — all over the world, fomenting solidarity. Next, we need a cohesive message, and we need it quick.

For now, your sisters and brothers are gathering together to make a case for putting people before profits and politics. Be glad for what they are doing and support them any way you can. And next time there’s a march, join in!

Kat Anderson is a 23-year SF resident. She serves on several boards including City College’s Foundation Auxiliary, the Marina Community Association, and Plan C.  She ran for Supervisor last year, throwing her support to Mark Farrell in the last weeks of the election.  Kat is an attorney.  Most importantly, she parents her 16- and 14-year olds.  She can be reached at katanderson63@me.com.

Photos

More photos here.

Kat Anderson

Kat Anderson

Kat Anderson is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law and Stanford University. She has made San Francisco her home since 1988.

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  • http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/author/luke/ Luke Thomas

    Letter to the editor:

    Dear Editor:

    I have been watching the news coverage of the protests against Wall Street. As I listen to the points the protesters are trying to make, I am reminded of the old saying, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure !”. I am also reminded of the saying, “Those who don’t learn from history; are doomed to repeat it!”

    “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure !” Every since I have been old enough to seriously think about the “Great Depression”, I have wondered, “Who would have benefited; the most; from everybody “loosing” their checking and savings accounts ?” Your readers may compare my theory to “the President Kennedy assassination theories”, but I would not be surprised; at all; to learn that the rich and powerful planned the entire Great Depression!

    “Those who don’t learn from history; are doomed to repeat it!” Our supposed leaders, in Washington, DC during the 1960’s and 1970’s, did not listen to the over-whelming cries of the people to get out of Vietnam! I wonder how many thousands of lives would have been saved if these war-mongers would have only listened to the will of the people! The current Republican leaders are too, too stubborn and conservative to listen to the people, and the current Democratic leaders are too wimpy and spineless to get behind our President Obama!

    I truly believe these “gutsy and heroic” protesters are absolutely correct in their assessment of our very own government’s choosing to bail-out multi-billion dollar banks and Wall Street firms, then allowing the resultant economic fall-out to land squarely on the heads of “the-every-day-American” ! I am not sure that I agree with the 99% middle to lower class versus the 1% ultra-rich and powerful, but regardless of what the percentage split, I truly believe; it is beyond question; there is an extreme; and totally un-acceptable gap; between the “ haves’ and have-nots’ “ in this country, the country that claims to be “ the shining example of what each and every country should strive to be !!”

    It is truly; well past time; for our U.S. Government, “Of The People, by The People, and for The People”, to finally live up to the true meaning of The Declaration of Independence, The U.S. Constitution, and the over-whelming will of the over-whelming majority of the American People to make the seemingly difficult, but common since decisions that will make a better and brighter future for ALL AMERICANS !!

    The question I would like to leave with all Americans is this, “Is it fair, is it the American Ideal, and is it the quest for a perfect society to allow the minority; the rich and powerful; to dictate to the over-whelming majority of this country’s and the world’s population to get-away-with wrongly influencing the world’s governments with their multi-million dollar bribes??!! I will simply ask that all of the people contemplate this.

    Timothy Monroe Bledsoe
    150 Cypress Drive
    North Augusta, South Carolina.

  • GenaD

    The protesters should be in front of the offices of their congress person and senators that voted for the 2008 bank bailout. Don’t they relies more democrats voted for the bailout than republicans. It is amazing how the democrats are highjacking this movement. Then senator Obama came back for the campaign trail for one vote and that was the 2008 bank bailout under Bush. Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer also voted yes.

  • Eric Brooks

    Great and truly inspiring article Kat, and Carl.

    However…

    Please allow me to help unpack a couple of crucial ideas with you.

    1) The protests do have a clear message and demand. It is just so obvious that people don’t notice, or clearly articulate it enough. Here it is:

    Message: Banks and a small number of elites have hoarded far too much wealth.
    Demand: Redistribute most of that that wealth back to the 99%.

    2) Understandably because of the extensive demonization of the true meaning of the term and its adherents, please understand that you currently completely misunderstand ‘anarchism’.

    First, note that the -reason- the protest came off so well is precisely -because- it was organized by anarchists. I know this, because I am an anarchist myself, and am in contact with many of the Occupy organizers.

    Most importantly, in reality, anarchists are precisely the opposite of what you mistakenly portray. They are against coercion, violence and creating fear, and are for peaceful civil disobedience and consensus based decision making (direct democracy).

    The disruptive actions of people who you mistakenly assume are violent ‘anarchists’ are almost always the result of police and FBI infiltrators purposely stirring up trouble while wearing ‘anarchist’ garb in order to create the illusion that anarchists are violent or destructive, when they are precisely the opposite. Anarchists are nonviolent and seek to build democracy, not destroy it. Here is some info to guide you to a better understanding of all this.

    To learn more about anarchism see:

    - A very brief introduction of it by Noam Chomsky at:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G6kf7XM9Nk

    - Basic guidelines for Consensus, which all anarchist organizers follow and is the foundation of modern anarchism, at: http://www.actupny.org/documents/CDdocuments/Consensus.html

    - The web site for one of the best examples of how 21st century anarchism is taking shape, the Institute for Social Ecology, at: http://www.social-ecology.org/about/about-the-ise/

    and finally

    - Listen to the extensive archived audio programs of Renewing the Anarchist Tradition, which are highly diverse and deep discussions by anarchists on what anarchism in its many evolving forms is all about. To listen, go to:
    http://www.radio4all.net/
    and then in the upper right corner search box enter the phrase:
    renewing the anarchist tradition

  • greg kamin

    Good report, Kat! And thanks for the pics Luke.

    The one thing I would say, though, is that the unifying message of the movement is staring you right in the eyes.

    What do you think the problem is with this 99%/1% notion? It’s not that the 1% exists, per se. There will always be a 1%. The problem, as I think everyone there can agree, is that the 1% have accumulated too much of the nation’s wealth relative to the 99%. In other words… growing economic inequality… and the associated corruption of our democracy that results. The government is owned by the 1%, it serves the 1%, all the rules are made for the 1% and the 1% seem to be able to get away with anything. That’s the central message, Kat.

    Yes, the solutions that people propose are diverse. There are in fact proposals… from reinstating Glass Steagal, to taxing financial transactions, to prosecuting the bankers who wrecked the economy, etc.

    But the problem, is something that the whole movement can agree on. And before we can settle on solutions, we as a nation need to acknowledge the problem of economic inequality. That’s the central theme of this movement. That, in and of itself, is already a huge departure from the discourse that we’ve been having in America up till now. There will be time for people to coalesce around solutions, but just the fact that people are finally expressing the problem is a start.

    Otherwise good report though.

  • Richmondman

    Businesses are not supposed to do anything but make as much money as they can. It is the Government that is supposed to be of, by and for the people. Government is the problem, not business. Government has become of, by and for those who donate the most to political campaigns. Take this to the laps of those who have sold out the people of America. Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein and Barak Obama all who are supposed to represent San Francisco in the Federal Government, and they have sold the people out. No different than the GOP.