I’m currently visiting some friends in lovely San Francisco, California. Today I did some freestyle wanderin’ which led me to the lovely City Hall. As I walked out of City Hall I noticed a huge police presence assembled down the street.
I thought, perhaps, that it was the police headquarters or something, but someone told me that they were there to “deal” with a protest.
The protest, which attracted about 100 participants, was apparently organised by the social activist group Anonymous. They were protesting the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency’s decision last month to cut phone service at their stations in response to another protest over the BART police shooting of Charles Hill on the Civic Center station platform on July 3.
I did not witness the actual protest but I did see the police assembly beforehand.
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A one block stretch of Fulton St. between Larkin and Hyde was lined on either side with dozens of police cars, trucks, and motorcycles. There was also a large “mobile command centre” as well as two city buses filled with police officers.
I approached a group of policemen and politely asked why there was such a large police presence there.
“Are you serious?” one officer shot back. I gave him an innocent stare and said, “Yeah, there are quite a lot of you, what’s going on?” “There’s a BART protest,” he said. “But why do you need so many police for that?” I said, glancing at the 30-odd people assembled near United Nations Plaza “Don’t you have protests in England?” he said, grossly mistaking my accent.
At this point he walked away and another police officer began a friendly conversation with me. He was much nicer, less hostile than his colleague. “I’ve never seen a camera like that,” he said in a southern kind of drawl. “Where do you get one like that?” I explained that I bought it online and showed him some of my pretty photos of City Hall. “You know, my friend has a Pentax and he swears by it,” he said. “I’ve never seen a red one but it goes nicely with your red Coke shirt,” he said glancing at my red Coca Cola shirt. I learned that he is from Fort Worth, Texas and my friends are sure he was hitting on me.
Friendly conversation aside, I was a little disturbed by the overwhelming police presence.