By Sarah Carlson
With the deepening of the capitalist economic crisis that started in 2008, we are seeing in 2012 record numbers of impoverished and homeless people living in the wealthiest country on the planet. The response to this has been the new Occupy mass movement that has swept much of the globe.
As the state repression of the expanding Occupy encampments across the United States has left very few tents standing, the movement is adapting in various ways.
In many cities, the focus has shifted to housing rights and actions against evictions and foreclosures. In San Francisco, the ANSWER Coalition has been involved in working with community groups, individuals and Occupy and Housing organizations like the San Francisco Tenants Union, ACCE, Causa Justa (Just Cause) to stand up for the right to housing.
On Saturday, Jan. 7, Occupy SF took its show of solidarity to San Francisco’s Excelsior district, a working-class neighborhood where evictions and foreclosures are becoming increasingly prevalent. The starting point of the action was Bank of America, which had its doors closed when we arrived. One demonstrator was able to make it inside and hold a sign against the door of the entrance denouncing the foreclosures until he was arrested.
The protest of about 125 people then moved one block over to Wells Fargo. An ANSWER activist and schoolteacher spoke of the basic right to education. She pointed out the hypocrisy of a system that blames teachers for the failings of an education system that is grossly underfunded and where more and more students are homeless or suffer from housing or food insecurity.
The energy of the protesters continued to grow as we marched to Citibank and Chase, and eventually back to Bank of America for a closing rally. People spoke of living through foreclosures and the impact on their families and children and the need to keep fighting against such injustices.
Basic needs such as housing and health care must be guaranteed rights, not just commodities to be sold for a profit only to those who have the means to pay. Our task is to build a movement capable of struggle to win justice for the working class.