In a seriously ballsy move, affordable housing advocates flat-out stormed the front of Mayor Ed Lee’s house Saturday afternoon. Roughly 50 demonstrators gathered at a BART station and then marched to Mayor Lee’s home Saturday, with nearly as many on-duty police officers ready for them throughout the neighborhood. The march was organized by Eviction Free San Francisco, the folks behind Thursday’s raucous and shout-y eviction protest at the Paolo shoe store and an April protest at the house of Google executive Jack Halprin. These “mini-occupyings” at private homes and businesses are kind of becoming their thing.
SFist does not necessarily endorse staging protests at people’s private homes, and we’re sure as hell not publishing the mayor and his family’s address. (But hey, feel free to speculate in the comments based on clues in the photos!) And there is some precedent here. Gavin Newsom’s luxury apartment building was apparently targeted in a 2008 Care Not Cash protest. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s household has been targeted several times, as have been mayors’ homes in Washington DC and Seattle.
“We’re going to his house because that’s very personal,” Erin McElroy of Eviction Free San Francisco told SFist, against the din of bongo drums. “But it’s also very personal to be evicted.”
Several evictees grabbed the megaphone to tell their stories, which are pretty gut-wrenching when coming from senior citizens or schoolteachers holding babies. Lata Garrity, the sweet little old lady with the heart-shaped sunglasses seen above, is getting tossed out of her home of 32 years.
“I want the Ellis Act overturned until we have enough housing that at least people can find another place,” Ms. Garrity told SFist. “So many people are losing out, it’s not right.”
You can imagine that some of Mayor Lee’s neighbors were none too pleased with the protest. One parent stood in front of his house pleading that the demonstrators quit the chanting and drumming because he’d just put his kids down for a nap. “I understand where their feelings are coming from. I don’t know if this is the most effective way in order to make their statement,” the unhappy pop said of the protesters. “My kids are napping right now. It’s pretty disruptive.”
You can also imagine that SFPD was out in full force along the demonstrators’ route, particularly in front of Mayor Lee’s house. “All of the police officers are here to protect you,” one demonstrator shouted at the mayor’s (presumably empty) house. “But who will protect us?”
The demonstrators demanded, among other things, a citywide moratorium on all evictions in San Francisco. That probably will not happen even if Mark Zuckerberg himself comes down from on high in Dolores Park and gives Eviction Free San Francisco a billion dollars for their cause.
But tenant advocates in San Francisco are used to fighting uphill battles. “We fought for rent control. It was not given to us by the graciousness of City Hall,” said protester Patricia Kerman, herself a senior fighting an eviction. “If you don’t fight, you’ll never win. “
“Anybody who loves San Francisco should be out on the streets demanding that the mayor issue an emergency call to stop all the evictions going on,” Ms. Kernan told SFist. “After all, this is the city of St. Francis.”
We will note that Mayor Lee never emerged during the protest in front of his house. In fact, we would bet our World Series press passes that the mayor made a point to be nowhere near his home on this Saturday afternoon.