Hundreds of Critical Mass Bikes Join Friday Night Rally With OccupySD

by on October 29, 2011 · 18 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, San Diego

OccupySD regroups, hundreds turnout in solidarity, October 28, 2011. Photo by Patty Jones

Coming off a Thursday night where the San Diego City government ordered the eviction of OccupySD protestors from both Children’s Park and the Civic Center, it was no surprise on Friday night that the atmosphere had changed downtown. Fifty one people associated with the ongoing demonstration had been jailed on charges ranging from violating curfew to obstructing a police officer. Some of them were still in jail.

The police presence on Friday was now somehow more threatening. Words that couldn’t be taken back had been exchanged over the previous twenty four hours. Images of brutality were etched in the minds of some, even if they hadn’t actually witnessed them, with tales of miscreant behavior flowing freely though the crowd grapevine. The Us vs Them (Occupiers vs Cops) mentality was prevailing, much to the delight, I suppose, of those itching for a fight and those who would prefer to circumvent the real issues of economic justice at hand.

The cops, for their part, were there to show they meant business. Sleeping bags were confiscated.  People trying to use the sidewalk to make protest signs were rousted, lest they be confused with humans trying to sleep on the ground. A group of a dozen or so cops marched into the crowd as I arrived (about 6:45) to arrest an angry bearded man. The crowd responded by yelling “shame’, “shame” and “the whole world is watching” as the police led him off. The vibe was prickly, with the cops amassed at the side waiting for trouble and some Occupiers milling about seemingly waiting for provocation.

The homeless, who have been a real presence earlier at OccupySD, were off to the side, afraid of losing their meager possessions amid the cops who’d made it clear that any sign or potential sign of encampment would be dealt with harshly. The Civic Center square was an excellent opportunity for people watching… Near the entrance were the sign wavers, occasionally getting a response from passing drivers. Off to the side were a small group of Hare Krishna types, chanting away in the night. Away from the maddening crowd were the hippies, seemingly only focused on the aura of the event. (Or maybe they were sneaking a smoke.)

Vets for Peace join OccupySD, October 28, 2011. Photo by Patty Jones

And then there were the hustlers, like the kid who wandered up and asked me to sign a petition that he told me would allow voters a say in setting political boundaries in California.  Problem was, the petition he was proffering is the one California Republicans are circulating to overturn the voter-mandated non-partisan redistricting process that started with the 2010 census. It seems that the GOP is upset because they fear losing their two seat margin for blocking legislation that requires a two-thirds majority.  So they’d like to return to the smoke-filled room methodology popular in the past. (People, don’t sign any petitions without checking them out online first! And any Republican talking about democracy is only looking to secure less representation for you and more for the 1% who pay the bills.)

Gradually, the crowd started getting bigger (and older) indicating that the grand event of the evening—the labor solidarity rally/sleepover—was about to get started.  The labor council’s supporters, so the story goes, were supposed to march over to the Civic Center from Children’s Park. But there was no boost of energy or cheering as if two crowds were meeting, so I guess that was just another one those rumors.

Unlike the freewheeling anarchy of earlier hours, the arrival of the Labor Council folks, headed by Lorena Gonzalez, brought a much more organized and purposeful feel to the event. Instead of milling about, the crowd was chanting. The cops were no longer the focal point. Instead of random songs being played over the public address system, the array of speakers began. The Interfaith Council for Worker’s Justice sent various faith leaders to observe and bless the crowd. Lorena’s fifteen year old daughter proved that’s she’s a chip off the old block. And various union leaders addressed the crowd.

Critical Mass joins OccupySD, October 28, 2011. Photo by Doug Porter

Especially impressive were speeches by Brigette Browning of the hotel workers (Unite Here Local 30) and Joan Raymond, a garbage truck driver representing City employees (AFSCME 127).  If the tone and class consciousness represented by those two women characterizes the direction that local union leaderships are heading in, we’re in for a good ride in San Diego.

The speeches were wrapping up—housekeeping announcements and that sort of thing—when a tremendous roar came up from the crowd, starting at the east end of the gathering. As I looked over I could see hundreds of bike headlights headed down B Street, and I was unsure for a moment about what was going on… And then it dawned on me: the Critical Mass Halloween Ride had decided to salute OccupySD by joining with the crowd.  It was awesome… one of those heart in throat flashes like I’d get when the “Good Guys” came riding to rescue at the movies when I was a kid.

Of course, life doesn’t work that way, and the 1% are still running the show this morning. But for a moment—just a few seconds—I had the sense that, despite all the frustrations, this was a battle that could be won. Thanks to the Vets for Peace and all the other groups that came out in support of last night’s event.

Video by Patty Jones

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Frank Gormlie October 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Great observations, Doug. Really glad to see you there, dude. Yes, the moment when the bicyclists arrived will be long remembered by those who are joyed by gatherings of the people when we’re standing up for our rights.

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avatar BonnieDaMantis October 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Thank you Doug for being there to capture this event.

The ‘angry bearded guy’, was not angry until he was assaulted by SDPD. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oL3BHgMVg8 ‘Michael Dennison’ is a veteran that did not move out of the way of approaching thuggish SDPD officers, then charged with Battery on SDPD…

Michael needs witnesses and more videos of the lead up to the arrest. If you can assist, please call 619-303-1917 x13.

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avatar BonnieDaMantis October 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm

At this point, Mike need to be bailed out of jail! Bail is set at $10k, we found a bail bond at $400 down… we only have $200 for him so far…

Are there any soft hearts out there? 619-303-1918 x13

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avatar Steve Ruiz October 30, 2011 at 7:40 am

But he broke the law Bonnie , my money to a shelter would go farther!

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avatar Nathan October 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm

It was a turning point for me. When I saw the thugs in black attack a Marine veteran and fracture his skull I knew it is time to take sides. I am American for America, not a sniveling servant of the 1 per cent groveling for scraps from their table.

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avatar dave rice October 29, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Another great (and different) view of the events we all witnessed from different angles. Thanks Doug!

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avatar dee October 29, 2011 at 9:07 pm

The INFO above has the wrong phone # for‘Michael Dennison the veteran who needs witnesses. Its 1 # off.
Its 619-303-1918 ex 13

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avatar invisible October 29, 2011 at 9:52 pm

yay, the original occupysd blog is back up:

i’ve missed having a detailed events lineup.

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avatar invisible October 29, 2011 at 9:56 pm

this teach-in for sunday sounds fascinating:

Start: 10/30/2011 – 11:00am

“Economic Aristocrats and the Struggle for Economic Justice in the Early American Republic: Popular Action and the Roots of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights” The topic will cover the early period of American independence, from the Revolution through the turn of the 19th century, with a focus on how the ‘founding documents’ were fundamentally shaped by popular action and opposition to the ‘economic aristocrats’ who consolidated governmental power after the revolution.

http://activistsandiego.org/node/3268

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avatar annagrace October 29, 2011 at 10:00 pm

The Occupy movement not only has legs, it’s got wheels! I share Naomi Klein’s sentiment that Occupy is the most important thing in the world right now. Occupy also became the most wonderful thing in the world for those long, long minutes when Critical Mass came through. It was great standing beside you when it happened Doug.

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avatar npdaddy October 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm

So was it this crowd of bicyclists on University that almost ran me over and didn’t seem to think the light or law applied to them? Rude bunch.

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avatar unWASHedWallmaRtthong October 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Yep, unruly. The discussion continues regarding what the U.S. should do w/ its transportation problem, population problem, the energy problem, the education problem, the DOD getting all the money problem.

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avatar Frank Gormlie October 29, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I just watched Patty’s video of Critical Mass arriving – and I painstakingly counted the bicyclists – and am proud to report that their numbers closed in on 350 just themselves. Amazing.

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avatar Jack October 30, 2011 at 9:21 am

Don’t forget, the removal and arrest of the 51 people Friday morning was to quiet a march Occupy SD had voted to do in opposition to SANDAG’s 2050 RTP. The protest still happened and the Occupy SD got stronger. Unfortunately, the county board of supervisor and almost all of the mayors in the county that make up SANDAG approved the plan which will help the 1% get richer using our tax dollars. With this plan San Diego will continue to fall behind, 30-40 years behind other modern regions with regards to building an effective transit system. We need to expose to the people this $200 billion rip off from the people. We need transit now, for our communities, our planet and the 99%. Keep fighting and reporting.

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avatar unWASHedWallmaRtthong October 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm

OSD joins hands w/ Critical Mass. Who else can join?

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avatar Sage V. October 30, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Yes, us hippies were both standing on the sidelines taking in the aura while also sneaking smokes. Y’all just hate on us smokers, and we do try to be courteous. Don’t worry, us old hippies are just waiting for y’all to get your shit together. We got love for you.

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avatar john October 31, 2011 at 6:38 pm

hmm, don’t know if I should agree with your stand for individual freedoms and rights, or ridicule you for not realizing if everyone smoked the health care costs would dwarf anything wall street is stealing. maybe both….

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