By Chris Roberts
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
By Mike Billings
By Rachel Swan
By Erin Sherbert
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
A muted roar from the south side of the demonstration greeted the triumphal entrance of Kevin and his band, who had marched to the top of Dolores Park so as to be able to charge down the hill to confront the yuppies. Chanting, "One, two, three, four, stop the hatred of the poor," the revolutionaries swept into the crowd, where they quickly lost all momentum. Keating gave a brief speech introducing himself, which was greeted warmly by his own supporters, but many of the other attendees seemed unimpressed.
"It's 1999, baby," said one jaded hipster to his friends, and then, when they laughed at this, asked, "Anyone got any pot?"
No one obliged, but a couple of people passed through the crowd with burning sage sticks.
Just then, a small contingent of Hell's Angels roared down Dolores and made a right on 18th, to cheers and clenched fist salutes from some in the crowd. The dozen or so uniformed SFPD officers on hand stood up straight, but the bikers didn't stop and the tone of the day returned to Protest As Usual.
Finally, it appeared that members of La Raza were stepping in to fill the power vacuum left by Bradley and the other yuppies' non-appearance. A man with a megaphone ascended the grass slope to stand next to the chain-link fence surrounding the nearest tennis court. "This shit ain't funny!" he bellowed. "Half you people came just to show up!" There was a tiny silence as the crowd, by now over 200 people strong, pondered the logic of this statement.
"You are all yuppies!" he continued. "This nation is rich and we are the rich! You are the yuppies! Look yourself in the mirror! You are the yuppies! You are the enemy!"
"Whooooo!" cheered the La Raza contingent, though the rest of the crowd didn't appear especially won over by this rhetoric. The man with the conch shell blew and blew, drowning out part of the speech that followed, which concluded, "This meeting was made up by yuppies, for yuppies!"
The speaker passed the megaphone to a young woman in capri pants and a hooded sweat shirt, who immediately drew a parallel between European colonization of North America and gentrification in the Mission. "Who washes your dishes? Who does your dry cleaning?" she asked. "It's raza! Who does that shit? Who takes care of your lawn? It's raza! We don't want you here! We don't want you driving your sport utility vehicles, showing off how life has given you opportunities!"
"BO-ring," chanted a few people at the back of the crowd, but quietly.
"Today is the Mayan New Year!" she yelled. "How many of you knew that? How many of you even know the history of the peoples you displaced when your ancestors came to this land? How many of you even know that this very land here is a mass grave of the native peoples murdered by the original gentrifiers?"
After a few more references to murder and genocide, her supporters wound it up with some vigorous rounds of: "Se ve!/ Se siente!/ Mi raza/ Esta presente!," at least as far as we could tell over the sound of the conch shell.
Another man took the megaphone and screamed, "Fuck your neighbors!" This, inexplicably, raised a cheer, and he continued, "You know what? We wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning to make your fucking coffee for you! Fuck you!" (Wild cheering.) "Fuck you! We will not move beyond the city gates for you! Fuck you! Fuck you!"
More cheering and a generalized chant of, "Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!"
Meanwhile, two camera operators standing behind Dog Bites discussed the rally. "I don't know. We got a press release," said one.
"Same here," replied the other.
The hooded woman had taken the megaphone again to harangue the crowd some more. "Your existence is a 500-year-old hate crime!" she told us.
A disgruntled Kevin Keating, who'd been trying to get a turn with the megaphone himself, huffed back down the hill. "Those racist demagogues aren't going to let me near the bullhorn," he stormed. He went off to discuss the situation with his own supporters.
A man approached Dog Bites to ask who we represented. On hearing SF Weekly, he said, "Well, I hope you guys are going to do this as a serious story. I mean, I appreciate that you've given the issue some coverage, but a lot of your stories make it seem like this is all kind of a joke, like you don't take it seriously or something."
Ummm ... oh, wait -- there's someone we have to talk to over there! Gotta go!
"I think it was a smashing success," said Keating, when we caught up with him again. "It was a complete and total rout of the bourgeois in the Mission."
Things were winding down; we realized we'd started to get a sunburn, a cold wind had come up, and it was well past lunchtime.
We heard Keating talking to a group of his friends. "On the advice of my attorney, I'm going to get something to eat," he said.
As told to Laurel Wellman
Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 536-8139; fax 777-1839; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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