Bautista, Teresita

 

Klick on a Brick

The call went out. Show up in San Francisco, 11:00.

I headed over to Kearny Street that sunny Sunday. It was expected all activists were on call 24/7, as anytime the SF Sheriff’s could be gearing up to move on the 3 story building that took up the entire block bounded by Kearny, Washington, Jackson and Montgomery. The massive brick hotel that stood on the edge of Chinatown, the home to dozens of elderly and low income people, several of my friends was under attack. With only an hour’s notice, I dressed quickly, grabbed the oversized wool coat with the light blue trim. It would be warm enough in case the wind picked up on the streets of San Francisco.

Heading over in our old green and white van, Roger, my draft dodger partner, said little, not knowing what to expect—security, serving meals to the tenants, helping with clean up, maybe work with some of the eager college students from local campuses.

Got to the hotel in a quick half hour, we met others in the cold hall, the community room where tenants and visitors would eat, meet, dance, play music, play cards. It was filling up quickly. We took our seats in the back.

A tenant welcomed the crowd of about 20 of us. A rally and march around the hotel would begin about 1pm. Groups were forming to handle the aspects to move an expected 500 people around the huge block. I got security.

An announcement about different groups coming to march in solidarity included the infamous People’s Temple led by Jim Jones. I joined the others assigned security duty and we got briefed on what tasks we would cover and what to do with difficult situations that would arise.

I went to Washington Street and took my post, glad I had a warm coat. Found some gloves in my pockets. I was set.

Jim Jones showed up with seven bus loads of parishioners who chose to come after Sunday service. The near 300 people filled up a noticeable section of the march. By the time the large march was 30 minutes deep, there was no empty spaces to fill in. So many folks took the call that marching around the hotel inched slowly, oh so slowly. Each row, 5-6 people wide.

The sun felt good on my face as chant after chant kept the marchers energized and strong. I would see the same determined faces come around. “We Won’t Move!”

A thousand or more strong that Sunday made that march even more memorable, even more significant that the response was swift. “The people united will never be defeated”.

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