Monday, July 11, 2005

If You're Going To (A Protest In) San Francisco...

(Officer down at the G-8 solidarity protest in SF)

"If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there..."

-Scott McKenzie, 1967

Among the questions I am most asked by the male high school cross country kids I coach is "is there going to be a draft?"

I have been asked this multiple times this summer by different guys who are confused as to if they can or will be drafted. As recent as last week, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld stated that there would be no draft. However, the United States does maintain active volunteer draft boards in every state should their be some sort of "national emergency."

As for S.o.D. Rumsfeld, his credibility with public statements is up for debate. So, in-turn I have to tell the kids:"you can't be drafted, at least not right now." Its a the kind of vague, double-standard answer that has lead kids to hate adults since the beginning of time. And my answer mirrors a similar hollow standard of justice on the part of world governments, a predicament that brought about a series of global anti-capitalist protests in the US and elsewhere against the G-8 meeting in Scotland.

Friday night July 8th around 9PM there was a 300-person strong protest in San Francisco's Mission district, in solidarity with the G8-protesters in Scotland. You can read significant coverage and see more photos here. It was the type of protest action that raised as many questions about the tactics and goals of anti-capitalist protesters, as it did about what they were resisting. The Indy Bay link above has many back and forth posts about the usefulness of overturning trashcans in the street, bricking Wells Fargo windows, etc.

Protests in San Francisco are a regular occurance at all levels: school board meetings, city council meetings, on the steps of city hall, United Nations Plaza and regularly in our streets. You could say there are as many street protests these days as there are San Francisco street fairs (and believe me, that's a lot!).

On tonight's local radio news, it was announced that the Mayor of San Francisco, that 'ol friend of the left, gay-marriage supporter and hotel union ally, will offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who attacked and bloodied the policeman. That's a lot of cheese. But its also damage control for a Mayor who's DA didn't seek the death penalty in a nortorious recent case of an undercover officer murdered in the line of duty.

It was also reported in the same KCBS newscast this evening that that from now on, the San Francisco police department would designate the Black Bloc (anarchists) a "street gang," a– distinction that should alarm political protestors of all stripes.

So, if you're going to San Francisco (for a protest), you might want to consider not wearing black, but do consider covering your face with a bandana or mask, to avoid identification, arrest, prosecution. Maybe the flowers are a better choice in the first place...