More Than One Thousand San Franciscans Protest Sit/Lie Ordinance

SIDEWALKS ARE FOR PEOPLE EVENT: On Sat., 3/27, more than one thousand San Franciscans responded to a proposed "Sit/Lie" ordinance by staging nearly 100 creative protests on the sidewalks in neighborhoods across the city.

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SIDEWALKS ARE FOR PEOPLE!

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On Saturday, March 27, more than one thousand San Franciscans responded to a proposed "Sit/Lie" ordinance by staging creative protests on the sidewalks in neighborhoods across the city. As part of "SIDEWALKS ARE FOR PEOPLE", participants held nearly 100 planned and spontaneous events, doing their favorite activities on the city's sidewalks in protest to a proposed ordinance that would make it a criminal offense to sit on any sidewalk in San Francisco.

Events included tea and coffee parties, brass marching bands, brunches, art projects, barbeques, pirate radio broadcasts, beanbag tosses, yoga, karaoke, even a hot tub party. "Today was an extraordinary celebration of San Francisco's public space, its vibrant and diverse culture, and its tradition of tolerance and compassion," said Andy Blue one of the organizers of the event. "The creative participation by people from all neighborhoods, and all walks of life, was truly inspiring."

The "Sit/Lie" ordinance was introduced on March 1st by Mayor Gavin Newsom to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and supported by the city's recently appointed police chief, George Gascón. The mayor says he also intends to put the ordinance on the ballot for voters to weigh-in on in November. A broad coalition of community organizations, activists, and concerned San Franciscans has unified in vocal opposition saying the law would merely criminalize the innocent behavior of sitting, rather than address issues of aggressive behaviors as its proponents claim.

"Making it a crime to sit on the sidewalk will not make us safer, it will only turn more of us into criminals," said co-organizer Nate Miller, whose breakfast on the sidewalk, complete with carpet and rocking chairs, drew some 40 neighbors, friends and many more curious pedestrians in the city's Richmond neighborhood.

The event was conceived, announced and produced in about 2 weeks in swift response to the introduction of the proposed ordinance. The organizers said the mobilization of so many people across the city, in such a short time, clearly countered notions in some media reports and push polls, that suggested the ordinance was popular with the majority of San Franciscans.

"It sounds like it's something pretty antithetical to the spirit of San Francisco," 52-year-old public artist Colette Crutcher, told an San Francisco Chronicle reporter in front of the Bernal Heights Library. "I don't think there is any need for such a law. I think all it will do is encourage the police to stop people they don't like."

Organizers say the events were so successful and fun, that they will hold monthly 'sit-outs' the last Saturday of the month, at least until the ordinance is defeated at the Board of Supervisors and on the November ballot. ###