When President Obama came to San Francisco last month, activists had two venues for protest: anti-Obama action at Third and Howard streets or Occupy SF at Justin Herman Plaza. On Wednesday, students and activists tried to set up the Occupy Cal camp at Sproul Plaza, but campus police seized their tents.
Protesters have framed themselves as the victims of authoritarian law-enforcement actions. Everyone knows that if they really wanted to protest a police state, Syria would be a more deserving target. But protest in the bosom of the free speech movement is a lot safer and easier.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan finally found the backbone to allow police to evict the Occupy Oakland encampment last month. Unfortunately, the howls of outrage that followed were so intense that Quan invited the tent-sitters to return to Frank Ogawa Plaza.
A funny thing happened after her capitulation. The howls of outrage got louder. Area businesses let City Hall know that the demonstrations were starving their cash registers, voters complained that law-breaking Occupiers were fouling their public square, and taxpayers voiced alarm at the rising cost of police overtime and cleanup efforts.
By Nov. 3, as the Oakland City Council was set to vote on a resolution in support of Occupy Oakland's "rights to free speech and peaceful assembly 24 hours a day, seven days a week," author Nancy Nadel was forced to admit she didn't have the votes.
Protest Fatigue has come to San Francisco, too. Yes, supervisors passed a resolution supporting Occupy SF, but they watered it down with language that allows police to use force in the interests of public safety.
Protest Fatigue also has come to Berkeley. This is not a university that wants to squelch protest, especially left-leaning movement activists who want to elbow Washington and Sacramento to fork more money onto higher education's plate.