File spoon-archives/marxism-news.archive/marxism-news_1998/marxism-news.9802, message 43

Date: Sat, 21 Feb 1998 19:49:29 -0800
Subject: M-NEWS: Mass Detention of alleged San Francisco Anti-War Protesters

Mass Detention of alleged San Francisco Anti-War Protesters

 (Saturday, 21 February, 1998):  Despite heavy rains and
a severe winter storm, more than 3,000 people rallied today
in front of the Philip Burton Federal Building at 450 Golden
Gate Avenue in San Francisco, demanding an end to the US war
against Iraq and the lifting of the starvation blockade.
The rally began at 1:00 in the afternoon.  As of 5:00 p.m.,
San Francisco police were still illegaly detaining several 
hundred alleged demonstrators on Mission Street at 16th.

 The rally itself was the standard Pop Frontist affair,
with liberals and Greens and one Muslim speaker who endorsed
the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.  Ostensible Trotskyist
presences included SA, ISO, WWP, and FSP, all indistinguishable
from the left liberals.  Socialist Action's National Secretary
had lots to say about action but nothing to say about socialism.
FSP leader Wong canted socialism only as a shibboleth non sequitur,
as she claimed this imperialist war is the fault of the "evil" man
Clinton.  The one open call I saw for defense of Iraq against
US imperialism was from a tiny cluster of less than a dozen 
rain-soaked Spartacists who seemed to have only three picket signs,
including (in a show of conjunctural convergence with the
libs, pinks, and Greens) one that called for the overthrow
of sheiks and emirs [!] in the Middle East; nothing on Israel.
None of the Spartacists was prepared to discuss their newly 
revised "line" on the Popular Front, although one did make 
suitably dishonest noises (incredibly claiming that Norden's 
Internationalist Group "ignores" the Mexican PRD!)

 After the official rally dispersed, a crowd of over 1,000
individuals moved west.  An unidentified comrade of Trotsky,
Sex and Drugs pushed aside one riot barrier even as the crowd
flowed around four barriers to Van Ness Avenue, drawing a heavy
police response which stopped traffic along that major artery.

 Under tactically experienced leadership of class-struggle
anarchists, members of the crowd attempted orderly departure
which was impeded by scores of police including US Federal
Marshals and the San Francisco Police "Tactical" Squad (the
same COINTELPRO-style "Red Squad" whose collaboration with
B'nai B'rith was exposed a decade ago).

 Moving south on Van Ness toward Market Street, the departing
former protestors poured around a police assault line near
McAllister, peacefully keeping to the sidewalk.  The police
reformed their assault line near Hayes street, impeding the 
progress of pedestrians along the sidewalk.  At least one
peaceful alleged protestor was arrested at that point to
cries of "Shame! Shame!" from a crowd including pedestrian
bystanders.  A San Francisco police sergeant bearing a helmet
number 437 struck several pedestrians with a baton.  One of
that sergeant's blows struck me, brusing my hand, which is
why this report will be necessarily short.
 With young,  but tactically gifted, anarchists in the 
front ranks, the crowd continued west and south.  Police
reaction blocked traffic along Market Street, even as
police alleged that a parade was being conducted without
a permit and ordered the crowd to disperse at Market Street.

 Many individuals went south from Market Street towards
the heavily Latino Mission District.  On Mission between
15th and 16th Streets, massive response by police cordoned
off hundreds of people -- approximately half the remaining
former demonstrators -- on the west side of Mission Street.
The former demonstrators, as well as all pedestrians swept up
in this block of the heavily immigrant Mission neighborhood,
were refused egress from the police cordon.  The police blocked
vehicle traffic on the street and threatened pedestrian attempts
to use sidewalks on either side of the street.  At no time
did police read a dispersal order to the cordoned-off crowd
of pedestrians, whom they charged with protesting without
a parade permit.  Claiming that these alleged demonstrators
were being "detained" but not "arrested," these innocent
pedestrians were held in the rain, penned into the ominous
police cordon, until they could be individually cited.
By this point, the correlation of forces was massively in
favor of the police.  Federal Marshals were integrated into
the San Francisco police assault lines forming the cordon
around these illegally detained persons.

 There were several arrests, including police subduing an
elderly woman, then apparently stalling on a call for her
medical attention.  At the east end of the street, across
from the detainees, I witnessed another San Francisco police
sergeant, helmet number 1640, shove a disabled woman into 
a mud puddle.  (She was a woman of color, apparently carrying
groceries or shopping to her home, and she walked with a cane.
She apparently sought an explanation from sergeant #1640, who
abruptly shoved her back along the sidewalk into a mud puddle).  

 San Francisco Police have an established and dishonorable
tradition of mass arrests and street sweeps, a sort of
"Club 'em all and let the D.A. sort 'em out" approach
to freedom of assembly.  Today's police riot in miniature
does not seem to bode well for the planned visit by
President Clinton to the Fairmont Hotel on Wednesday.
Thursday will be Parent's Day at Stanford University, too.

 Additional San Francisco rallies are scheduled:

(*) Saturday, 28 February 12 noon
     at Dolores Park (19th St. & Dolores)
     info (415) 821-6545

(*) Saturday,  7 March 1:00 p.m. 
     at UN Plaza (Market & 7th St.)
     info (415) 821-0459 or (650) 326-8837

(*) if the bombing should start -- rally THAT DAY
     5:00 pm if weekday, 12 noon if weekend
     at Powell and Market Street

- David Stevens
  Trotsky, Sex, and Drugs


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