Ed Lee, Occupy SF and the Triumph of the Frisco 5
Michael Steinberg Black Rain Press
Who was Ed Lee (who died 12-11-17), initially appointed mayor of San Francisco? My first impression was that he wasn't the arrogant obnoxious faux alcoholic wife cheating Gavin Newsom, and didn't really want to be mayor of the former Baghdad by the Bay, more currently Silicon Valley North.
But then capitalism failed once again, but the billionaires proclaimed it too big to fail, simultaneously stealing millions of ordinary joes and jills jobs and homes and hopes yet again. Into this void the rebelling voters dropped Obama , and then the man who didn't really want to be mayor of the Golden Gated version of abject failure.
Ed Lee, a first generation Chinese American, began his career of public service as an attorney and political progressive community organizer who supported a rent strike in Chinatown public housing and fought for the civil rights of his people.
Unfortunately, in a city created by gold speculation, racism and exploitation of indigenous people and immigrants, and subsequently crash prone startups , organized crime masquerading as real estate speculators, and resultant homeless criminalization, ruling elites weren't about to let anyone entering the mayor's office through the back door deviate from their elitist agenda.
Occupy San Francisco
--Occupy San Francisco stands in solidarity with the Occupy Movement started with Occupy Wall Street.
We are a leaderless movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are the 99%. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution.
We are working long hours for little pay and no rights. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 %. September 2011
Lee's role became clear when the Occupy Movement arose in the Fall of 2011. In retrospect, Ed Lee's handling of Occupy San Francisco marked his transition from a devoted civil servant to a corporate hit man. Or was he just following orders?
Occupy San Francisco first appeared in front of a Bank of America office in the financial district on 9-7-11 when about 10 activists camped out in front of it. The site shifted to Union Square, then to the Federal Reserve Bank on Market St on September 29. But the SFPD declared the free speech action a public safety threat seized the protesters tents, sleeping bags and cooking gear the next day, arresting one person.
The Occupy SF site shifted to Justin Herman (destroyer of the Fillmore District in the 60s) Plaza on October 13. The same heavy handed police actions tore it down the next day, and 5 were arrested.
On October 13 thousands marched from Justin Herman Plaza to City Hall in protest. On October 18, the San Francisco Examiner reported, an Occupy activist "heckled Mayor Lee as he defended his decision to have police upturn the encampment." According to the Examiner, Lee said he "supports the spirit of of the demonstrators,' but "one woman yelled, "Then don't send in the police to destroy it."
As Occupy SF continued, its popular support increased.On November 1, KQED reported, "The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted by an 8-3 margin to pass a resolution" supporting Occupy SF.
Unfortunately hostility towards the protests continued. On November 23, NBC.bayarea reported, "Ed Lee wants to hide Occupy SF in a vacant lot behind a fence on Mission Street, far away from from the current site downtown."
The next day the cops again raided OSF, dismantling 15 tents while arresting 7. Then, on December 7, at 1 a.m., ,the SPFD attacked the main camp at Justin Herman Plaza, busting 70 for "illegal lodging in a public park." Ed Lee's comment, "We're going to draw the line with overnight camping."
The occupation moved back to the Federal Reserve Bank the following day and continued there until December 11, when the police again brutalized the occupiers and destroyed the encampment, arresting 55 more.
Homeless In the Crosshairs Too
All this was happening just as Ed Lee was assuming his first elected term as mayor. The gentrifying tech sector shoved him deep in its hip pocket, resulting in San Francisco becoming the most expensive place to live in the nation. In return Lee offered Twitter and its ilk free passes to occupy SF, while Google buses occupied public transit spaces with impunity. Digitalized zombies whose only problem was what to do with their ill gotten disposable income displaced what was left of the city's working class, while increasing police pressure to clear the streets, doorways, parks and freeway underpasses of those humans without any other place to go, or apparently, any human rights, the homeless.
When Superbowl 50 came to SF in 2015 (or actually San Jose), Ed Lee and his SFPD--or was the way around--turned Justin Herman Plaza into a no go area for all officially designated undesirables, but especially homeless folks. Cop attacks on them speeded up as did raids on their encampments during the rainiest winter in years. Ed Lee blatantly blatantly told the media "The homeless will have to leave" SF during SB 50.
Which ultimately brought Ed Lee down. After he sat idly by while his out of control cops shot dead people of color in Bayview and Hunters Point, the Mission and Bernal Heights, grass roots protests began and grew until Ed Lee couldn't appear in public without being confronted with their anger, outrage and boos over the death squad cops he continued to let run amok.
Finally, in the spring of 2016, the Frisco Five arose, and began a hunger strike, putting their own lives on the line, and brought the issue to the fore.
And then one more African American went down in a hail of police bullets in the Bayview in May of 2016, , and Lee was forced to fire Police Chief Suhr, his partner in crime all along.
And that, as it turned out, was the beginning of the end.
Sources: As noted above + Wikileaks