Here’s the speech I tried to give in person to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors today. Perhaps Kevin succeeded in giving it as my proxy after I had to leave to the volunteer meeting at work.
Will’s Speech to San Francisco Board of Supervisors
I’ve been out on the streets of San Francisco protesting against the aggressive and illegal war of the U.S. against Iraq over the last two weeks. Last Thursday, I spent the night in the Bryant Street jail after my arrest for nonviolent civil disobedience in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. I joined other nonviolent protesters in what as far as I can tell, with 2300 arrests and counting, is collectively the largest civil disobedience action ever to have taken place in the history of San Francisco. In addition, it may be the largest number of people arrested in opposition to the war in any city around the globe.
On the streets and in the jails, I witnessed abusive behavior both by protesters and by police. Massive police presence led to unnecessary confrontations between police and protesters as citizens watched the clear abridgment of our constitutional right to peaceful assembly.
I urge the Board of Supervisors to take measures to rein in dangerous police abuse, such as illegal and intimidating street sweeps, sidewalk blocking, closures of public parks and squares, and the beatings, pain holds, and detention of nonviolent protestors without due cause.
However, the root cause of this problem is not so much in the San Francisco community but from the federal government of the U.S. Indeed, last October this Board passed by a vast majority a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to refrain from any injust war in Iraq which I believe accurately reflects the views of the vast majority of people here in San Francisco, including many of the police. I believe the Board should seek federal funding, whether by appeal to the administration or through the judicial system, to compensate the City and County for the costs of maintaining the peace in San Francisco due to the U.S. government’s aggressive foreign policy.
In addition, and perhaps more controversially, the Board of Supervisors should adopt a resolution freeing the City and County of San Francisco from the State of California and the United States of America, so that we the citizens of San Francisco can organize ourselves into a truly democratic, participatory free state that will more properly implement the will of the people of this fine city with its long tradition of diversity and respect for human rights for all.