Activism intervened during the 83rd U.S. Conference of Mayors, held at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel. Hosted by the city’s Mayor Ed Lee, the gathering was held June 19-22. Attending were more than 250 mayors, their families and a number of corporate sponsors. Making an unannounced guest appearance was President Barack Obama.
Local activists took the opportunity to raise a number of issues, particularly the Black Lives Matter movement and militarization of the police and their excessive use of force. Also brought up were homophobia, transphobia, gentrification and the environment.
The weekend was packed with related actions sponsored by many groups, including Occupy SF, Code Pink and the Anti-Police-Terror Project. The APTP called for a disruption as the mayors were about to board buses to attend a Saturday night “Color of Life Global Celebration” at the California Academy of Sciences. Protesters demanded that the mayors demilitarize their police departments and that there be total control of the police by the communities they are supposed to serve.
As the mayors’ buses pulled up, police, who outnumbered the demonstrators, held a line and kept them from crossing the street to reach the buses. Yet they allowed other passersby and hotel guests to get through. Then extremely aggressive police grabbed and shoved demonstrators who tried to step off the sidewalk.
To avoid the demonstrators, mayors’ security staff pulled some of them off the buses and escorted them through the hotel. But the political messages reached many despite attempts to stifle them.
Photo: Peter Menchini