Calling recent protests a success, activists with Occupy Wall Street West are downplaying reports of fractiousness as they vow to keep fighting against alleged corporate malfeasance and the influence of money in politics.
“I think things went well on Friday,” said 29-year-old activist Diana Macasa, one of several hundred protesters who attempted to take over the Financial District last week. “We were able to make a point, by shutting down Wells Fargo and Bank of America, that Occupy hasn’t gone away even though the encampments are gone.”
Friday’s protests included established housing advocacy groups and labor unions, along with veterans of the Occupy SF encampment at Justin Herman Plaza, which was broken up by police in December. Activists targeted banks and government buildings, performed street theater and marched through the Financial District.
“It’s basically just reasserting the fact that we’re here and we’re going to fight,” Macasa said.
Police said 23 people were arrested and two officers were injured by thrown objects when protesters took over the vacant Cathedral Hill Hotel at Van Ness Avenue and Geary Street. Police officer Carlos Manfredi, a spokesman,
said that at one point during the night protesters hurled furniture off the roof at police.
The mayhem seemed to be in conflict with the day’s goal of nonviolent protest, and it once again revealed the difficulty of controlling a leaderless movement, especially for the established groups that have joined Occupy.
But Donna Vieira, 42, a member of the statewide Association of Californians for Community Empowerment, welcomed some of the more provocative tactics, barring violence.
“I was sitting on the floor chained up with two teachers,” said Vieira, who spent Friday morning occupying Wells Fargo’s headquarters. “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”
Although at least one Occupy veteran said last week that he was skeptical of the established groups’ involvement, others welcomed them.
“I really don’t understand the controversy there,” said Stardust, a member of Occupy’s communications team. “They have been involved with Occupy since the beginning. The 99 percent includes labor.”