President Barack Obama drew cheers from camera-wielding admirers — but also plenty of jeers from the disparate fringes of San Francisco activism — as his motorcade swept through downtown Wednesday for two campaign fundraisers.
On one end of blockaded Market Street were conservative tea party activists; on the other was the semi-permanent Occupy San Francisco protest. Purportedly on opposite ends of the political spectrum, both groups prepared to shout similar grievances at Obama as Secret Service agents and San Francisco police cordoned off the street and deployed sniffer dogs.
While tea party protesters claim economic missteps by Obama are ruining the nation, Occupiers decry his lack of execution of 2008 campaign themes such as LGBT rights, reforming marijuana laws and scaling back the war in Afghanistan. Both groups waved signs referring to Obama as a “traitor” who was simply goading wealthy supporters.
Obama’s four-hour trip to The City — a stop on his way to other fundraisers in Los Angeles — marked the second time in three weeks he has turned to the Bay Area for donations. That did not go unnoticed by either the tea party or Occupy SF, which spent much of the year criticizing the 1 percent in The City’s Financial District — where Obama’s events took place Wednesday.
“CA’s broke but O’s back digging for more gold,” read one tea party sign held by 70-year-old San Francisco resident Fred Fidel Alvarez, who also said Obama is “doing everything to kill oil drilling and jobs.”
The president took criticism from both sides on the domestic oil drilling issue, with at least one man dressing as a polar bear to highlight how the animals would be disturbed by fossil fuel extraction in Alaska.
Occupy SF protesters — which exist in some form 24 hours a day outside the Federal Reserve Bank on Market Street — were even more agitated because of a morning rousting by police and a power-washing of the sidewalk by Department of Public Works officials.
Occupier Robb Benson noted that Obama is appealing to certain demographics, such as his recent outreach to the LGBT community on same-sex marriage, while others continue to suffer.
“He knows what he’s doing,” Benson said.
Upon leaving one event on Spear Street and heading to another on California Street, Obama’s motorcade bypassed both activist groups and instead zipped by a row of cheering supporters — who made up the vast majority of the hundreds who were gathered.
“I figured if he was going to come by, I might as well see it,” said 57-year-old San Francisco resident John Welch.
“I was headed over to a client’s office, but the whole office all came out together on their lunch break to see this.”
President Obama's events in San Francisco
Landmark at One Market
- 25 people in attendance at $35,800 per head for an event aimed at tech company executives
Luncheon at the Julia Morgan Ballroom
- $5,000 per plate or $50,000 per table
On the menu:
- Summer salad
- Salmon with sea beans, purple artichokes, lemon caper sauce
- Assorted desserts