Our prolonged stay in the Bay allowed us to spend my birthday weekend attempting to “bash the fash.” However, after planning out our two hour voyage back to San Francisco on account of the state cancelling buses running near the protest area the night before my birthday in order to arrive, we received word that the rally had been canceled. Instead, the Patriot Prayer group (which holds vague undertones of white supremacy), announced that they would hold a press conference at Alamo Square, near the Haight-Ashbury area. Luckily for us, this allowed for easier travel from the East Bay, despite a twenty minute uphill climb.
We arrived early to a familiar protest sight of indigenous dancers and small gatherings of people from all walks of life and leftist political groups. Within a few minutes, we spotted some comrades sporting red roses and DSA shirts and witnessed someone get arrested for no apparent reason. However, about an hour after our scheduled arrive time, our fellow DSA members began wondering where the rest of their group was, as they had reported being on their way. We soon heard a loud shout of “DSA!!—your comrades aren’t being let in!” resulting in the most heated confrontation of the event. The SFPD, clad up in riot gear uniforms, had blocked off the street about a block away from the park. On the other side of the barricade, we could see large DSA red rose flags and a crowd of protesters trying to attend the main event. After minutes of shouting “Let them in!” and attempting to forcefully move the barricades ourselves, the security further tightened, and the pigs lined their barricades with bicycles and began pushing us back toward the park. Eventually, they agreed to open up a barricade three blocks away to let everyone in, but by the time this happened, it was announced that the press conference in Alamo Square had also been canceled and that the white supremacist groups would be having indoor pop up press conferences around the city. Confrontation was thus avoided again, and we took to the streets in celebration.
After drinking a celebratory round with the DSA, we took a brief break from the political action on the streets to hang out in NoiseBridge Hackerspace with Blake. NB is a super cool space for people to create things and work on technological and hands-on crafty projects in an anarchist model, where all the means of production are provided at no cost. They have everything from laser cutters and woodworking stations to sewing machines and synthesizers, but we spent all of our time at the button making machine. In just a couple hours, we pressed out a variety of radical DSA buttons, including rose and sickle, Asian hand DSA symbol, and the catchy new slogan which you will have to ask Blake about (hint: Nazis done). We then scoped out some cheaper bars to conclude my best birthday memories thus far.
The following day brought us back into the political scene, as we joined in the Bay Area Rally Against Hate in Berkeley to protest yet another gathering of self-proclaimed white supremacists. Thousands gathered at UC Berkeley for your typical hype up chants and speakers from a variety of groups before taking to the streets again in attempt to meet the enemy. To nobody’s surprise, the racist groups had relocated to an indoor location right next to the public park where they originally had planned to gather. Upon marching to the building, the crowed stalled and witnessed the state security defending the doors to the building, as riffs of “Which Side Are You On?” lingered in the air. It is also crucial to note that we were stopped directly in front of the anarchist juggalo group, “Struggalo Circus” and their horrendous music (plz donate to their online campaign to send them to DC even though they already met their goal). However, things started to get fuzzy as we caught word that the crowd of anarchists at the front of the march were going to the park that was barricaded off, and the Socialists couldn’t make up their minds whether or not to follow them. After waiting in the heat for what felt like years, we ended up masking up with wet bandannas (tear gas had been threatened by the Berkeley PD) and walking around the block in the opposite direction of the park. By the time we reached the park, all the action had already gone down, and the worst of the white supremacists had already trickled out of the building and faced the anarchy. To be honest though, I was severely disappointed with this turn of events. Firstly, the anarchists clearly looked like they were having more fun, as they had managed to surpass the police barricades with ease so that they could have some occupy the Nazi’s would-be stomping ground. Secondly, had the rest of the march followed, we all could have been there for the action in a true show of solidarity. By leaving the anarchists to fend for themselves and dividing the large group amidst all the action, we ended up with salty liberal news headlines that only focused on the violence committed by a small group of anarchists against one racist dude, while declaring all antifascist protesters as equally violent as the racist hate groups themselves. Not only did these media reports totally ignore the other 7000 peaceful protesters who were just as agitated and hold the same antifascist ideology as those who were scrutinized for throwing punches, but it allows for space to completely ignore the fact that fascists have been coming out in public, seeking legitimacy and threatening the lives of so many people. Despite my own saltiness and vows to be an anarchist next time, we had another good post-celebration with the DSA and some hella good vegan sandwiches before departing from the (now) Nazi-free Bay.
While we are still decompressing from all of the awful media pieces and analyses of the Berkeley protest and mainstream perceptions of “antifa,” we have since found a home in brutally hot Los Angeles. Our journey south began with a trip to the beach in Santa Barbara, which Patrick thoroughly enjoyed while I dried out and got a headache from the sun. However, BevMo pulled through, and I was able to enjoy Imperial cerveza en la playa to commemorate my two year anniversary of flying to Costa Rica. We then suffered through a sweltering hot night in the hills northwest of Santa Barbara before making it down to LA, which is just as hot.
To start off the LA experience, we shot over to the nearest shabu shabu in Koreatown, then hiked up to the Griffith Park Observatory, which overlooks the entirety of the city. It was a truly astounding view, but we could not finish the hike on account of the heat and opted to read about the planets and geology things I already knew (and which Patrick did not, despite having taken the exact same Astronomy course as I did at Drake) inside the observatory (also fun). We then beat the rush hour traffic over to the LA Catholic Worker, which has been an incredible experience on account of their generosity of letting us park in their driveway and help out with all of their hospitality the past two days. Last night, we joined in on “choir practice” with wine and whiskey, as we belted out a round of “City of God” and “I Saw the Light,” along with other non-Catholic favorites. We were then convinced to stay for their liturgy, which brought me back to some not so great times at Catholic school, but ended up being the most lively mass-type event I had ever been to, as the homily consisted of a lesson to not always listen to authority and to take collective action as people to bring justice to the world (classic CW). The night concluded with meeting all the cool Catholic Workers over dinner and taking a shower for the first time in what felt like centuries.
We were then up early this morning to help out with the hospitality, which involved preparing and a meal for about 1000 people at the Catholic Workers’ Hippie Kitchen on Skid Row. The whole process took about six hours, but it was done efficiently with lots of volunteer help and expertise. Despite the brutal heat, it was great to be back in a familiar zone of community interaction and involvement. We spent the rest of the day sweating, walking around Little Tokyo (especially Daiso), and eating really good food, including Mexican/Asian burritos and vegan froyo. While our time in LA has been spent well, we are definitely ready to hit the road again, just to get out of this terrible heat heat. Big Rock Candy Mountain (aka Socialism), here we come!
DSA flags arrive at the SF march!
John Noble, this is for you.
Patrick: all wet in ocean
La cerveza de Costa Rica en la playaaaaa
Not mentioned: Hot-ass walk on Santa Monica beach to pier
Not impressed by Hollywood capitalists
Impressed with view of LA
This is said view from Griffith Observatory hot-ass hike
View of city from LA Catholic Worker 3rd story porch