Friday, October 7, 2011

From pillar to post, SF style

Just been reading the #OccupySF Twitter feed with a sad little sense of deja vu.

SFPD and DPW are using the same tactics toward the protest encampment that they do toward all encampments: property sweeps, second-day cleanup property sweeps, repeat property sweeps wherever the "swept" people next set down, all punctuated by actual or threatened citations for offenses like littering and lodging in public (see blog title above).

Astonished tweets from the participants are full of unsurprising news: "The dpw is on their way to take away more donations and occupation necessities! Please get word to media..." ... "#OccupySF needs immediate help moving its makeshift camp (tarps, boxes, supplies)..." ... "It's just kind of mystifying how the city government of SF is totally dropping the ball on #occupysf. definitely not voting for Ed Lee now." (Yeah, well, for the past 20 years the city government of SF has been lowering the boom on homeless people the exact same way.) ... "DPW & SFPD giving #OccupySF a hard time, about to 'clean' sidewalk of objects. Trucks en route." ... "I think the easy solution to #occupysf's problem with the SFPD is to build a few dozen carts to store their stuff on." (Not gonna work. They'll just confiscate the carts.)

Maybe more people can see now that moving along out-of-place people is a big chunk of what the SFPD and DPW are for. If you don't live here think Disneyland security. It's not quite that bad but the same idea.

I don't find it "mystifying" at all why San Francisco's municipal attitude toward the "occupy" protesters is meaner than in, say, Los Angeles or Seattle. It's because San Francisco is institutionally accustomed to cleansing the appearance of disorder from all of its public spaces. This isn't about politics, or rather, it's not about party politics though it is political in a deeper sense. The city has just put its usual cleansing machinery in operation. The particular people being cleansed today are organized, at least partly middle-class, and intentionally making a political a point. That, and I suppose the scale of the rousting, are the only differences from every other damn day of the year.

[Update: Just noticed a tweet from a couple days ago: someone posting as quietis writes: "Tired of people complaining occupysf looks like a "hobo camp." Homeless people have the right to free speech. Examine your own classism." What he said. "The 99%" includes all quartiles, doesn't it?]

[Further, late 10/7: Reference tonight on the organizers' site to "a show of solidarity from the Department of Public Works Union, local 261." Nothing yet about this on the Laborers' 261 blog. Curious. Also how does that mean the union members feel about the homeless people whose carts go by us in DPW pickups all the time? ]

No comments:

Post a Comment