San Francisco March for Native American Rights – March 10, 2017 (Photos & Personal Reflections)

Native Nations march in San Francisco, California., March 10, 2017Some of the banners and placards displayed at the march. The organizers thoughtfully provided many of these for those without at the march. The organizers gave instructions on how to return them after the event.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Indigenous grassroots leaders called on all allies across the U.S. and around the globe to peacefully March for Native American Rights on March 10th.

Native Nations march in San Francisco, California., March 10, 2017Meteor Blades, jpmassar, navajo , and citisven just arriving to the orientation meeting at the Federal Building. Claudia also attended but is not pictured. About 400 people attended.

One of the goals of the event is to demand that President Trump meet with tribal leaders before continuing work on the Dakota Access Pipeline. And demonstrate solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of the world whose rights protect Mother Earth for the future generations of all.

Native Nations march in San Francisco, California., March 10, 2017Orientation meet up before the march at the San Francisco Federal Building

A short rally and orientation meeting was held at the Federal Building before the march to Civic Center.

Native Nations march in San Francisco, California., March 10, 2017This baby carriage and sign caught my eye. The mother was standing by holding the child and smiled when I asked if I could take a picture.

Most importantly, and not recorded electronically by request of the organizers, a spiritual ceremony was performed before we left the Federal Building for a march down Market Street to the the Civic Center.

Native Nations march in San Francisco, California., March 10, 2017Some of the signs being held by attendees listening to the orientation at the Federal Building.

Notable was the large number of police monitoring the activity. I would guess upwards of 50 to 100 police and two helicopters were present.

The police maintained a respectful distance and were extremely vigilant and 100% engaged with their responsibility to both protect us and the city of San Francisco and insure a safe march.

The event monitors wore orange vests and worked with the police to direct the march and to stop and start the march to accommodate traffic and other operational logistics of a march in the downtown of San Francisco.

Native Nations march in San Francisco, California., March 10, 2017 Pictured is the group leaving the Federal Building orientation area and moving onto the public streets that had been cleared by the police for the march.

The march was not hurried and quite accommodating to conversation as we marched. It was “social dreaming” at its best. One might say that festivals, parades, and marches are an activity homologous to dreaming in the individual.

Native Nations march in San Francisco, California., March 10, 2017This is a picture taken from the tail end of the march looking toward the front of the march in the distance.

It should be noted that Idle No More SF Bay and the International Indian Treaty Council were co-sponsors of the march.

Native Nations march in San Francisco, California., March 10, 2017navajo in the lead, Claudia, citisven and Meteor Blades. (I think MB is thinking how much he would like to see Hamilton that is playing at the Orpheum Theatre.) citisven, Claudia, Meteor Blades and linkage marching up Market Street in San Francisco at the Native Nations Rising event on March 10, 2017. — Photo by Neeta Lind aka navajo Native Nations march in San Francisco, California., March 10, 2017Arriving at the Civic Center for the leaders of the event to announce our demands

Our Demands:

#TakeTheMeeting // President Trump must meet with tribal leaders to hear why it’s critical that the US government respect tribal rights. This administration must work with us.

#ConsentNotConsultation // Tribal interests cannot continue to be marginalized in favor of the interests of corporations and other governments. Consultation is not enough—we must require consent.

#NativeNationsRise // The Standing Rock movement is bigger than one tribe. It has evolved into a powerful global phenomenon highlighting the necessity to respect Indigenous Nations and their right to protect their homelands, environment and future generations. We are asking our Native relatives from across Turtle Island to rise with us.

Native Nations march in San Francisco, California., March 10, 2017Over 400 marchers assembled at the San Francisco Civic Center Plaza

Please jump the fold for my personal reflections on this event. Note these are my own thoughts and may or may not be supported by the originators of the event.

Personal Reflections

Our SFKossacks group met about an hour before the assembly at the Federal Building at a Sam’s American Eatery. The mood was somber and earnest. And considering the complexity and magnitude of the assault on democracy that we are witnessing the discussion was heavy. The meet up was brief but for me physiologically I needed to see that MB & navajo were just as overwhelmed as my self …. but that they would never give up fighting for the rights of all of us.

I want to express my gratitude for the experience and fellowship I had at the event. I’m grateful for the organizational preparation work of the event organizers and the professionalism of the police.

Protests and marches scare me to death. I have always been an outsider at “social dreaming” events. My whole life I have been a promoter of public events and responsible for the safety and success of the events and not an active participant. I can not go to such events with out worrying about everyone’s safety.

My biggest fear was “outsiders” deliberately disrupting the event with violence and property destruction in order to nullify the benefits of events such as this march. Clearly, due to the large police escort we had I felt protected by them rather than oppressed by them. I talked to a number of officers along the way and in each and every instance I felt they were highly trained and vigilant.

The cost to the City San Francisco in providing city services for this event must have been upwards of 50 to 100 thousand dollars. Not every city in America can afford to pay for the police escort and facilitation that this event afforded us. Again I’m so very grateful for large diverse cities like San Francisco that facilitates rather than hinders events like this.

One of the most sinister agendas of the Republicans is to pass numerous laws to restrict public assembly. My first protest “riot” experience was back in the 60s during the Peoples Park protests. And, I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good: I volunteered Friday and Saturday nights at a wonderful underground coffee house called the Seventh Seal Coffee House in the back of the Lutheran Youth Center. It was on 2309 Bowditch Avenue a few blocks down from the park. It featured folk music and a place to go for chess, Go, Bridge games, and conversation. For the whole year prior I had parked my car that I had bought for $50 bucks next to the park. During the Peoples Park protests the Lutheran Youth Center operated a first aid station and a safe house for the “people” to find refuge in.

The Bad: It blows the mind to see one of the most liberal bastions in the world, Berkeley, occupied by armed troops. It was frighting to hear stories of the ill treatment those caught received at Santa Rita Jail. And all the stories of those whose bones were broken by night sticks. And that deadly force was used that caused the death of James Rector, a student.

The Ugly: I only once got caught up in a serge from the national guard that Governor Regan sent in. It is a life changing experience to be stampeded by a phalanx of troops in combat gear lobbing pepper gas and pushing you into a prepared net. The pepper spray was disorienting and the coordination of the occupying troops was exacting I only escaped by begging entrance into a rug shop on Channing Way. The shopkeeper only just opened her door to take a peek as I was fleeing arrest or worse.

Governor Reagan declared a state of emergency in Berkeley and sent in 2,700 National Guard troops. The Berkeley City Council symbolically voted 8–1 against the decision. For two weeks, the streets of Berkeley were patrolled by National Guardsmen, who broke up even small demonstrations with tear gas. Governor Reagan was steadfast and unapologetic: “Once the dogs of war have been unleashed, you must expect things will happen, and that people, being human, will make mistakes on both sides.”

From Wikipedia: People’s Park (Berkeley)

For months we lived with the park fenced off and being patrolled by troops. I would come into Berkeley on Friday and Saturday nights to work at the coffee house and I parked next to the park. Just seeing that space cordoned off like that was dispiriting and it effected me in ways I’m only years later discovering. In fact I can not attend any public event with out flashing on how things can get out of control quickly with a military force driven by an ideological agenda such as Reagan had. This leads to the question how can we safely have more public protests knowing full well that the current leaders of our federal government, The Republican Party, want to suppress public protests.

Alternative or Supplemental Methods Of Protest

Dream with me for a moment and consider if we did distributed protests where the goal is to occupy a large space and make one quick dramatic statement rather than focus on gathering in a group for hours. The advantage of distributing the protest is that it will be hard for the police to effectively contain a group that is spaced out. Also, it may doge all of the new ALEC laws to suppress assembly.

What if the protesters assembled to preassigned positions such that the average distance between each protester is 5 feet. What if this protest was on the sidewalk rather than the street. What if using smart phones you found your place in the demonstration by using the GPS system. The whole point is to design an less expensive alternative way of protesting that minimizes exposure to violent disruption.

Perhaps a downloadable application could be developed for coordinating events that would work in the following way.

The protest event would be coordinated on a website that would provide authentication and access to the application. Once the application for the event is download one would know when and were to station one’s self for the up coming event.

When the time came for the event one arrives at one’s spot the application would shift off the internet and establish a local mesh network that would serve as the coordinator of the messaging for the event.

For example the coordinators could suggest via the system every one speak out loud a protest statement together. Or, all to uncover signs at the same time. Or any other of many numerous actions. Note I’m not suggesting anything violent or illegal but what I am suggesting is something highly visible.

This idea is similar to the idea of a “flash mob” but this becomes a “distributed flash protest.” With the idea to minimize the danger to each individual.

Please see these articles for a real world use of such a system: Protesters Are Using FireChat’s Mesh Networks To Organize in Hong Kong and Hong Kong protesters use a mesh network to organise.

In closing I’m fearful for our future and we need to anticipate the worse possible case of suppression of public assembly from the Republicans. Thus, this modest proposal. Very few Americans live in a liberal wealthy city such as San Francisco. How can those that live in Republican controlled cities protest safely. A clever app such as envisioned above might just be the solution for them.

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