Thursday, April 21, 2011

Barack Obama...Protesters stalk President in San Francisco! Medical Marijuana demands!


One protester waved a placard with a cartoon-like image of Uncle Sam with "Liar" crudely scrawled on its face, the San Francisco Police Department scrambled to put up barriers between a mob that had gathered and a Presidential motorcade, and a Government helicopter circled overhead signalling that Barack Obama was on his way.

As protestors chanted slogans ("Safe Acess Now" & "DEA Go Away! ") frenzied newsmen from the major Networks jockeyed for position at the curb in a bold-faced effort to capture the rally as it unfolded on the street about fifty feet away from the entrance of the St. Regis Hotel where the President was expected any minute.

Motorists honked their horns in support as the rag-tag gang of citizens shouted out their slogans and angrily denounced President Obama for failing to honor a promise.

Shortly after Obama took office, he promised to end the persistent DEA para-military-style raids on pot dispensaries in California.

Readers at the Tattler may recall I posted a feature on the issue shortly after I received a press release from the White House.

Post: 10/19/10

However, for some inexplicable reason, the President failed to follow through on his promise.

In spite of the fact the "Compassionate use of Medical Marijuana" was voted into law a few years ago, the DEA has continued to raid California pot dispensaries, at whim.

I previously attended protests at DEA headquarters and reported on the issues.

Post:  12/02/2010

Today, the President was undoubtedly aware of the greeting that awaited him at the St. Regis, judging by the show of force at the entrance of the Hotel, in the streets outside, and all-around a full city block.

In fact, when first strolled down the 3rd Street before the protest was underway, I stumbled on a couple of undercover cops whispering into walkie-talkies.

In one funny moment, a meter maid sped up to a parked car to issue a ticket - at which point - a gentleman darted out and informed her it was his vehicle and that he was with the Secret Service!
When the motorcade arrived, it was replete with a San Francisco Police Depatment escort, consisting of at least ten armed officers on motorcyles (with sirens sounding and lights flashing) and at least a dozen-or-so high-security vehicles (including a bomb squad!).

One reporter quizzed one of the protesters in jest.

"Do you think the President knows that you're here?  Do you think he cares?"

The spirited activist responded in the negative naturally.

It would have been a beautiful moment for the President - if he had only stopped by at the curb - and uttered up a few assurances.

Or, would the political mumble-jumble have amounted to more hollow promises? 

The same old same old!

For the protesters, it was a challenging day, to say the least.

A fierce wind blew down Market Street and icy temperatures chilled to the bone.

The Medical Marijuana activists drifted into a pre-arranged location at 3rd & Market Streets - where they worked out the details of their game plan - so the rally would be more impacting when it went down.

I thought it ironic that the starting point for the protest was in front of the  the AT & T building.

After all, the dedicated ativists wanted to reach out and touch at least one special person!

Needless to say, the brave upstarts got the cold shoulder from the President, and were kept at arm's length.

At one point, security spied a blue knapsack that appeared to be left unattended on the street.

Before pouncing on the mysterious bag, officers went through the crowds to determine if it belonged to any of the protesters, or a member of the press.

A few minutes later - when they were unable to determine who it belonged to - one officer (who had been quite respectful maintaining control of the protesters earlier) rifled through it to determine its contents.

The San Francisco Police Department should be commended for doing an exemplary job.

When I started towards an area where the protesters were forming, one officer quizzed me about my intentions, before letting me pass.

I pointed out that I was there to cover the protest, at which point, he noted that arrangements had been made to coral the activists at one location where they would be able to exercise their right to free speech.

Meanwhile, the blockade all around the hotel was causing a few headaches for commuters heading off to work.

Unfortunately, many were forced to detour around the Hotel to reach their destinations.

When they arrived late at the office, would their bosses believe their flimsy excuses?

A few tourists were literally confused!

But, all in all, it was a peaceful rally with good spirits all around.

Too bad the star of the event was a "no show" - in the street with the voting public - at least.

How will this impact his image - and his ratings in the polls - I wonder.

News at 11!