San Francisco—Since May 29, there have been ongoing demonstrations sparked by the outrage over the police murder of George Floyd. They spread throughout the many San Francisco Bay Area cities including ones not especially known for activism like Walnut Creek. Many demonstrators, chanting “I can’t breathe” or “Hands up, don’t shoot” as police lines formed around them, highlighted the pervasive and regular police terror against unarmed Black people on the streets.
A crowd of several hundred gathered in San Francisco on May 30. People were very sober and their signs projected many aspects of the horror of this moment as well as how each one was asserting their individual responsibility. They showed respect for others by taking precautions against the other imminent danger of COVID-19.
RACISM THEN AND NOW
A deep sense of history was present throughout. One woman carried a sign, “We demand an end to police brutality now!” which her father had carried during the March on Washington in 1963. She said, “It is an outrage that I still have to carry the same message.” Another cited Martin Luther King, Jr., “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
The Many “Black Lives Matter” signs, reflected ways in which people expressed its universal meaning, like “white silence = violence.” This hearkens back to AIDS activist’s slogan “Silence = Death” as well as struggles against domestic violence. Others said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and “I don’t wait ’til it’s someone I know.” Yet another Black Lives Matter sign read “Still we rise.”
The universality of the message was not contained within U.S. borders. People carried signs in Arabic, and others saying “From America to Palestine: abolish police, prisons and the state” and “Police brutality = state terrorism.”
The revolt is challenging the capitalist system from the perspective of people asserting their right to live. Many have been pushed over the edge since the pandemic. They already had either a precarious connection to living through a low wage job or had been totally discounted and left to fend for themselves on the street. This San Francisco demonstration, as many others around the country, persisted into the evening when many went on their own spontaneous “shopping spree.” One of the signs in the afternoon caught the totally inverted inhuman character of the present moment: “Vote out the looter in chief!”