The wandering minstrels of Occupella, or some of them, gathered this afternoon at a Wells Fargo branch in the Fillmore District of San Francisco. With the help of several sweet-voiced volunteers, we serenaded the bank’s employees, customers, and passers-by with old standards like Take Me Out of the Big Banks, Pay Up Your Corporate Tax, The Banks are Made of Marble, and other topical tunes.
I had got there from Berkeley via bicycle and BART, and at the end of the serenade, found myself stranded in the City, because nobody had room in their cars for the bike and BART is narrow-minded about bikes on its cars during rush hour. So, making lemonade, I first rode over the hill down to the Marina and then along the Bay to the Ferry Building, looking for interesting photos to take. At the Ferry Building, I noticed a familiar set of eye-in-the-sky helicopters hovering over the financial district, and a quick dip into Twitter told me that there was an Occupy demonstration underway. A few strokes of the pedal and I was in it. We marched down Market Street, then around the financial district this way and that, ending up finally in front of the big Wells Fargo branch on Montgomery.
The San Francisco march had all the spirit and energy, if not the numbers, of the Oakland demonstrations last fall (see my blogs here and here). I would guess the contingent numbered about a thousand. “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!” was probably the most-often heard slogan. The crowd was overwhelmingly young, and light but not blank on diversity. A line of ordinary cops marched alongside and took up positions in front of the bank’s plate glass windows. A line of heavier cops in riot gear stood along the storefronts across the street, ready to pounce. Motorcycle cops and an ambulance waited around the corner. As the speeches droned on, at about 6:30 I left and headed for BART and went home. The highlight of the march for me was a quick-time rendition of “Happy Birthday” for Occupy played by an impromptu band; here’s a short video.