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Portrait Gallery: Faces of Occupy San Francisco

| November 22, 2011
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At KQED, we’ve found ourselves wondering, who exactly is still at Occupy San Francisco two months into the movement and several days before the Thanksgiving holiday. Hardcore activists? Homeless people who have found a welcoming community? Nine-to-fivers who have taken time off to support the Occupy movement?

In an effort to find out, KQED News intern Michelle Gachet visited Justin Herman Plaza on Monday to capture portraits of some of the movement’s members and their environs. Take a look…

Name: Rick Barkesdale and Sheryl Solomon
Time at Occupy: Two months

Rick Barkesdale and his girlfriend Sheryl Solomon came from Colorado Springs to join Occupy SF. Bakersdale says he joined the movement because it “absorbed” him.

The two say they are willing to stay with the movement no matter how long it takes, even though dealing with so many different personalities can be “very tiring.” On Monday, they took a shower in a homeless shelter nearby.

Name: Tara Bateman
Time at Occupy: Seven weeks

Tara Bateman joined Occupy after a job selling magazines door to door in Corte Madera did not work out. Living in the camp has been a “nice stepping stone,” a transition to life in the Bay Area. “I’ve made friends with everyone here,” she says.

She supports the movement but is “still a little fuzzy on what their end result is.”

Name: Two Horses
Time at Occupy: Three weeks

Two Horses volunteers at the encampment kitchen for up to 12 hours a day.

Early this year he lost his job as a building manager and his two part-time jobs as a painter and a florist.

As to why he joined the movement: “I finally got fed up.” He thinks the police will have to come to an agreement with the occupiers because “trying to squash us doesn’t seem to be working.”

Name: Emma Stime
Time at Occupy: A month

Emma Stime has worked at the Occupy San Francisco kitchen for the last month.

The movement has made her more aware of the problems people face and she has become “indignant.” Stime says one way that people can help the movement is to move their bank accounts to credit unions.

Name: Michael
Time at Occupy: Two months

Michael was homeless before he joined the Occupy movement.

“Look at what our own government has done to us,” he said. For the last two months he has found a home at Occupy SF. Even though he is not sure of what the goal of the group really is, he supports the movement.

“They need to give us some place to be,” he said in regard to recent threats of a raid.

Name: E.J.
Time at Occupy: A month

Every day for the last month E.J. has walked 20 blocks to join the occupiers at Justin Herman Plaza. He comes here to “support the young kids.”

“I’m lucky, I’m just waiting to die,” he said, laughing, before expressing his concern over the future of America. He believes that the only path to recovery is for the United States to “pay its karmic debt.”

“This camp, the occupiers … they are making history.”

Name: Zoey
Time at Occupy: Three weeks

Zoey has been at Occupy SF for three weeks. Even though he didn’t agree with the movement in the beginning, he joined because he is worried about the future of his one-year-old son.

In the movement, he has found something “worth fighting for.”

Name: Bona Green
Time at Occupy: A month

“I believe in the movement,” Green says. Before she joined, Green and her husband were homeless.

The occupiers have been welcoming, she says. She thinks it’s important to be part of Occupy because she is now a “part of history.”

Green wants to unify the women in the camp and have them “talk and vent” without their husbands and boyfriends around, because “they need a day out too.”

Name: Dana Shiezke
Time at Occupy: A month

Dana Shiezke does not have a tent at Justin Herman Plaza but she has been donating her time for the last month. “To see people standing up … that really captivated me.”

Shiezke has been working at the Communication Tent, where people can plug in their computers and get an Internet connection through a bicycle-powered battery.

One of the biggest challenges of the movement is to “provide social services while building a political movement,” Shiezke said.

Name: Boe
Time at Occupy: A week and a half

Initially Boe joined the movement because he had no place to sleep and he found it to be a “sanctuary.” Now, he lives at Occupy SF, which he called a “petri dish of society,” under a tarp with his dog.

“I’m trying to find a role for myself here,” he said. Even though Boe supports the movement, he still questions it: “I just can’t jump into this, thinking this is it.”

Name: Jeff Jacob
Time at Occupy: Two months

Jeff Jacob joined the Occupy movement after he heard about it on a radio show. “This is it,” he thought. Jacob says he lived on a yacht in Sausalito before joining the occupiers at Justin Herman Plaza. From his tent, he urged people not to buy anything on Black Friday.

“This is a rainbow gathering with politics,” he said.

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Category: Law

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  • Daniele Graziani

    Thank you for the article: it answers a few of the questions I had, and actually I would like to find out more. Thank you to the protesters who remind us that it is the people who vote, not the dollars in political contributions.

  • Someguy Ofnoconsequence

    People are strangely happy. Can you see that?

    They seem to be echoing a vibe that give me, and potentially others, severe goosebumps. Human beings, of all walks it seems, are interconnecting in these communities.

    Seeing this in sharp contrast to a suburban/city environment still full of those who are still gazing at computer screens or TV, scoffing at coverage, locked in individual solitude and under thick layers of *ego* evokes an extremely rare sensation.

    These strangers are cooking for each other, supporting one another, speaking with one another, only for the sake of it. Only for love and concern. They are a community that has formed in such a short time.

    The energy of this phenomenon cannot be denied.

  • MotherLodeBeth

    One thing stands out, none seem to know what the movement is all about. This is akin to being adrift on the see. And none look like the majority of whom the 99% or the non 1% really are and that is what the naysayers are saying. In essense the photos are of people who have never been productive, yet seem to think those working and paying the taxes should support them. OWS needs to alter that view if it is to succeed.

    • Ecofem

      How do you know they have never been productive? The answer is you don’t know. You also know nothing about what they expect; it’s just as likely that they want the country to stop sending people and our resources to fight wars, and use that money to develop green energy technology here.

    • Dave88778

      “photos are of people who have never been productive”

      Either you have a problem with reading comprehension, or you tend to ignore statements that aren’t in your favor.

      Did you read the story of “Two Horses”? The third one from top. He was a building manager until early this year.

      I’m guessing you have a job, and classify yourself as one among the “real” 99%. Then my question to your is, why aren’t you out there instead of these folks?

  • Jan Shaw

    Wonderful portraits ….

  • Andrés Cabrera

    Excellent photo report

  • Gachet Fabiola

    Michelle nos agradan las fotografìas, màs aùn los comentarios y opiniones de los entrrevistados y ocupantes de la Justin Herman Plaza, cada uno expresa su opiniòn con absoluta libertad y convicciòn, es lo importante que transmite esta muestra; es un trabajo bien logrado. Tus papàs Vìctor & Fabi.