San Francisco is a liberal city, where people have always felt inclined and empowered to speak their mind. Demonstrations and protests are not uncommon by any means. There are constant protests about politics, environmental issues, military actions, civil rights, etc. Don't be surprised if you come across some picketers.
Many monuments and tributes exist as remembrances to the past events. One such more obscure protest that has literally shaped the city into what it is now and influenced many cities around the globe to do the same were the "Freeway Revolts". (photo taken on Gough, near Clay St)
Starting in the mid 50's, San Francisco started actively protesting the development and construction of expressways and highways that would have radically changed the layout, park spaces, traffic flow and related neighborhood development. Such protests went on for more than 20 years.
Don't be surprised if you encounter a demonstration in San Francisco. The City is very tolerant and often "hosts" political protests. In fact, some people travel to San Francisco with the sole intent of attending a particular event. Usually these are peaceful affairs, but can and do impact traffic. Market Street is a favorite spot for a march and City Hall is a preferred site for a rally. Sometimes these events can be entertaining. Often some big name politicos or celebrates may participate. But occasionally some violence or vandalism can occur if things get out of hand. If you are from out of town and find yourself in the middle of such an event, just let it pass by peacefully. Often, police on motorcycles accompany the protests to help with traffic control and perform other law enforcement duties. In San Francisco, demonstrations are part of the local landscape.
The city of San Francisco passed a law recently that banned military recruiters and military activities on any elementary, highschool, or college campus anywhere in the city!!! I dont know if this means that San Franciscans do or do not want the U.S. military to protect thier city but it is very confusing...
After the 50 years and many wars the free world spent fighting communism, some people in the city of San Francisco still think that it is a great idea!! I am sure those of you who ever lived in or visited a communist country like N. Korea or the U.S.S.R. (during communist rule) realize that the marxist model usually doesnt work. The best part about the United States is that we have the freedom of speech (a right that does not exist im many countries) So the people can say anything, and they do!! Some things you might witness while in San Francisco are protests where Americans burn American flags, before you think that they are crazy and wonder why they live in a country they hate, you have to realize that the U.S. was built on dissedents, and talking bad about the government and flag burning are all protected freedoms!!!
As the land of the liberal, San Francisco has many protests and parades throughout the year. These almost always affect traffic in some way. Most protests and parades go through the heart of downtown, which can provide either interest/amusement or annoyance to the traveler. Just be prepared for these, watch the local news, and avoid the routes (they usually end in the early afternoon). Hopefully these protests/parades will not detract from your San Francisco experience.
San Francisco is known for demonstrations. It just wouldn't be the same without them. It is among the most liberal cities in the entire country. So anytime you visit the Civic Center, you'll very likely see one.
San Franciscans always seem to have a cause. Hardly a week goes by when there isn't some kind of protest or demonstration by my office building in the Financial District.
Most protests are tolerated here, as long as they aren't too rabidly conservative. Sometimes the good citizens of San Francisco stage a demonstration just for the sake of demonstrating and you're not too sure what the cause is.
Celebrating April Fool's Day, the St. Stupid's Day Parade and protest is held April 1 at noon, starting at the Embarcadero Plaza. The festivities end at Washington Square in North Beach where there is a rally in the park. The parade is sponsored by The First Church of the Last Laugh.
The costumes worn by the protesters are very amusing, but then again, they are rather normal attire for many San Franciscans.
Street Protests are an integral part of life for many San Franciscans - especially those who have been here for a few years. While there's been a lull in recent times, large street actions are beginning to make a resurgence - especially as conditions worsen in Iraq. While protests today aren't as vocal or confrontational as they were in, say, the late 80's (Central America) or the early 90's (Gulf War I), the protest organizers are much more adept at their craft. A well-organized phone and flyering network can, and often will, put together a protest of other 10,000 people in 1 or 2 days notice!
If you should find yourself caught in the middle of a protest, just relax and enjoy it 'cuz you're not going anywhere. DO NOT try to drive through a crowd of people - at the very least you will get your car damaged, you may get pulled out of your car and roughed up AND get arrested to boot! The police and the more-organized protestors have an "understanding" - and usually work with eachother well and in this case YOU will be the troublemaker!
Protests are really San Francisco's best expression of spontaneous creativity! Enjoy the colorful costumes and the hilarious signs. You came here to see San Francisco, and this is as San Francisco as it gets! Consider yourself lucky, take lots of pictures, and enjoy democracy!
There's something oddly juxtaposed when people are rallying for peace -- no war -- and in the center of the priciest, most corporate, area of San Francisco. Macy's, Nieman Marcus, Gumps, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany's, Borders Books, Shrieve & Co., and more -- all surround Union Square.
...behind the cop. Why isn't it ever the fashion models that feel the need to be naked in public? Sorry for blocking out the nasty bits, but VT's a family site. You get the picture tho.
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