How did Occupy San Francisco survive? The answers might vary from person to person according to their type of perspective and how knowledgeable that person is about the actual process of public safety officials and police, politicians, and activists acting and reacting to each other. Some of that process is not visible to those "camping", that is physically occupying the plaza. Among these people there are those who believe that sheer numbers and resolve are key, while others stress the efficacy of particular tactics. Those things all are part of the basic point of the operation: occupation of a space. There is no dispute over the fact that this occupation is a demonstration of will by those assembled; it is not a legally or politically sanctioned event. Public perception of the occupation, mostly favorable at this point, influences the response of the police force and the politicians.
There are politicians in San Francisco who are sympathetic to many of the complaints and goals of the occupiers, and are aware that there is support for the occupation by their constituents. Some members of the board of supervisors visited the camp last night for the purpose of debunking the smear campaign in the press which characterized the occupation as being unsanitary and also to show solidarity with the occupiers. The police department and Department of Public Works had distributed a letter to the occupiers advising us that we are subject to arrest. This letter listed a number of violations of code which they claimed to have observed and led them to conclude that the camp posed an "imminent threat to the public health." I think that the word "imminent" is important to observe in use here because it indicates that breaking up the occupation for the reason that camping in the park is itself illegal was not being considered as sufficient reason to effect a mass arrest and forcible breakup of the camp. There were no sanitation issues with the camp in fact. People assiduously cleaned up after themselves and the kitchen was kept clean. Despite inadequate facilities (remedied today by the provision of portajohns by the City), there were no incidences of public urination or defacation.
Due to the high likelihood of a raid occurring last night, many supporters of the camp showed up and stayed into the wee hours of the morning, ready to lock arms with those willing to be arrested. This included labor and clergy leaders. The San Francisco police had actually been in Oakland. On the one hand I would think that their being in gear and on a raid footing made it more likely that they were ready to raid the San Francisco camp if the command or political structure had given the order. On the other, maybe they were tired after cracking heads after what has obviously been a rather more tumultuous series of events in Oakland. At any rate, our observers monitored their movements and the occupiers were ready and calm and in good spirits with chanting and drumming and so forth throuhout the night.
Today, Occupy SF and supporters visited the mayor's office and engaged in negotiations with the mayor and heads of departments. The end result, as being reported right now (7:15pm), was that the mayor expressed a willingness to hold off on arrests and eviction from the camp.
Got the camp back in order today, after having mostly dismantled it last night. This was one of the first days I spent most of the time at camp during the day. I spent some time at the welcome table, and I attended a discussion on the issue of commercialism and the book "The [Culture] of Spectacle." This work delves into the French school (though apparently started in Italy) called the "situationists." While not Marxist in the political sense, these thinkers who were influential in the French radical and countercultural movement of the late sixties and early seventies drew upon Marxist ideas to form a criticism of modern culture as spiritually bankrupt and devoid of passion and joy. A key idea of their thought is that desire itself becomes commodified through the representation of it in the products sold to a public "alienated" from satisfaction in their day to day lives by the system which subverts them. Some discussion followed regarding whether the camp represented an overcoming of such alienation (I already forgot the term the situationists used), and what the implication of Occupy SF was to the potential for a more broad society-wide movement.
John Fugelsang swung by and gave away tickets to the "Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour", which was well received.
An excellent proposal has just been handed out at the General Assembly meeting. It begins:
"The Facilitation and Direct Action Working Groups agreed to propose that Occupy SF spread, deepen and decentralize the occupy movement across San Francisco's diverse communities and movements by initiating an "Occupy SF Action Council" and inviting the people of San Francisco to join us. The idea is to invite everyone who supports and participates in Occupy SF to spread the movement by self-organizing our own Occupy SF action groups; get together with our friends, neighbors, co-workers, congregations, classmates, or community to form a group to take action for the 99%, both in our own neighborhoods and communities and to coordinate with each other for mass actions and mobilizations. We would coordinate through an Occupy SF Action Council made up of spokespeople chosen from each group that would meet once a week (or more if needed) to plan, coordinate and mobilize for mass actions. We would also invite existing groups who respect our practices in the occupy movement to join us." This proposal was accepted by the General Assembly.
10/28: According to the San Francisco Examiner (which had been on the frontlines of the effort to portray Occupy SF as a bunch of dirty hippies living in a pit of filth):
"Candidate John Avalos was one of five members of the Board of Supervisors who spent Wednesday night at Justin Hermann Plaza with Occupy SF as the protesters braced for a possible police raid.
Avalos said he and supervisors Jane Kim, David Chiu, David Campos, and Eric Mar tried to reach Lee [the mayor] and police officials during the night, but to no avail.
'I do believe it was the presence of elected officials that prevented a raid from happening,' Avalos said."
-story by Amy Crawford