Updated Oct. 5, 2011, 3:24 p.m.
Several hundred people gathered in front of the Federal Building in San Francisco and began marching down Market street chanting, "The banks got bailed out, we got sold out."
The demonstration was organized by Occupy SF, a splinter group of the movement in New York known as Occupy Wall Street. Occupy SF has been camping out in front of the Federal Building and is a rag-tag group of mostly young, white protesters.
But the crowd participating in Wednesday's march ranged in age and occupation, if not ethnicity, with many carrying signs representing unions. Actors, nurses, and stay-at-home moms co-mingled with protesters who looked more the part in bandanas and jackets covered in slogans.
Michael Horse, an actor who appeared on the television show “Twin Peaks”, owns an art gallery in Albany with his wife, Pennie Opal Plant. Horse is a Vietnam veteran and a union member.
Horse said that when he attended a recent anti-war demonstration, he was disheartened to see that there weren’t many young people.
“I looked around and said, this is beautiful, but everyone is fifty! Where are the kids? Now there are young kids down here and I think it’s great,” he said.
Both Plant and Horse once described themselves as Democrats, but said they were disappointed in President Barack Obama and could no longer “vote for the lesser of two evils.”
They now only vote in local elections, and not for president.
Of the protesters interviewed by The Bay Citizen, many either described themselves as Democrats or at least registered as such when they voted.
“I’d say I’m a very liberal Democrat,” said Charmz Valentino, 26. She said she is homeless and active voter.
Valentino and her puppy, Tucker, slept in a tent at the Occupy SF encampment in front of the Federal Building Monday night in the pouring rain.
Valentino once worked for Verizon as a customer care representative, but said that being a “traveler” with no home and no job was actually easier than trying to pay rent and buy food on the salary she was making.
Angela Hockabout, a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom was marching with 2-month-old Liam strapped to her chest and 21-month-old Nathaniel in a stroller. She said she was a Democrat, although in a “perfect world” she wouldn’t have to “care about ideology.”
Does she vote?
“All the time,” said Hockabout.
Kim Wayne, a 73-year-old from Oakland, said she registered as a Democrat “because I have to” and always votes and works the polls. She said the tough economy has forced her unemployed son, who was once the vice president of a construction company, to deplete his 401k and her to drain her IRAs.
Nurse Shandra Brown, a 46-year-old mother of two, described her political affiliation as “apathetic,” but says she does vote. Brown has been coming to the encampment to act as support, helping to organize the kitchen and keep things sanitary. She said that even with her nurse’s salary -- she is in between jobs right now -- she still found it hard to make ends meet. Both of her children, she said, had medical issues that her health insurance failed to cover.
When asked what kind of change they foresaw the protests affecting, the expectations varied.
“My hope is that there will be a reestablishment of regulation for Wall Street and that incredible loopholes will be closed,” said Wayne.
Hockabout said she thought that more change would happen on the ground in communities than through voting.
“I’d like to see people not just protesting but going out and making change in their own community, we need to look to our own cities to see what the problems are and use our own time and resources to find the solutions,” she said, adding that, “More than anything, I want this to be a counterpoint to the Tea Party.”
Valentino said, “I don’t know if there’s going to be a change soon. I think it’s going to be years of community action and a lot of time.”
While protesters were marching in San Francisco, supporters of Occupy Wall Street were holding a much larger rally in New York. According to several media reports, thousands of people attended that rally.