San Francisco anti-G8 rally turns violent

Saturday, July 9, 2005

San Francisco, California — A rally in San Francisco's Mission District to protest the current G8 summit in the United Kingdom turned violent Friday as protestors turned on police officers and empty storefronts. Both police and protestors charge the other side with violence.

At least one police officer was rushed to a nearby hospital with head wounds. Other injuries have yet to be reported. The California city, widely considered a progressive bastion in the U.S., has since 2003 allowed impromptu, unlicensed rallies and protests where police are trained not to interfere with protestors unless public safety is threatened.

The protesters began their rally at 7:47 p.m. at the corner of 16th and Mission streets in San Francisco near the Wells Fargo bank. Reportedly, in less than an hour 150 people had gathered at the corner.

By 8:51 p.m., more than 200 people began to move down the street towards 23rd and Mission streets through the heart of San Francisco's Latino enclave. Since the protestors failed to notify the city of their march and failed to get a permit, police told the marchers that the street march was illegal, asking the protesters to move to the sidewalk.

They began to move up 24th towards Valencia, where the first arrest was made of a protestor setting off illegal fireworks. Protesters who didn't know the specifics, heard of the arrest and started to step off of the sidewalk and run to avoid police. At 9:14 p.m. organizers called for a regroup at 16th and Mission.

Most people went to regroup, though some stayed behind. Windows were broken at Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and KFC restaurant as well as other corporate targets, labeled as symbols of global capitalism.

American flag burnings re-energized the group and trash cans were lit on fire. Protestors then moved newspaper stands into the street to create barricades against police cars.

Later, a police car was believed to have been set on fire due to a collision with a protester's sign. It turned out that it had only been a red smoke bomb. But the officer was beaten by protestors. The protest dispersed by 11:23 p.m. after an ambulance arrived to take the police officer to a nearby hospital.

Organizers of the protest reportedly claimed theirs was not just an anti-G8 protest, though they were the main target. A group calling itself "Anarchist Action" said that the protest was also march against capitalism and gentrification in San Francisco.