Happy Chinese Protester, Chinatown
By the time you read this the news should be reporting on the protests of the Chinese Olympic Torch passing through San Francisco, the torch's only U.S. destination. Because of this I decided to dig out a photo I took a while back and post about San Francisco's history of political and social protests.

This smiling and waving gentleman has to be the happiest protester I've ever seen. He can usually be found rallying for Taiwanese independence at public events. But he is not the only Chinese protester in San Francisco. Massive prayer vigils held by hundreds of silent Falun Gong practitioners are often seen in the city. In addition, Chinese human rights protests are common as are public actions calling for a free Tibet.

San Francisco has a history of social and civil protesting that dates back for decades. During the recent Iraq War and the Vietnam War, both San Francisco and Berkeley were centers of anti-war protest. In between those wars, gay rights protests took place here at a time when rights for gay people was widely considered a ludicrous idea. Prior to that, huge, often bloody, demonstrations were held in the 1920s and 30s to protest anti-union actions taken against dock workers and other labor groups.

Not all protests in San Francisco have a liberal slant, the city is often targeted by right wing and conservative religious organizations hoping to 'send a message' by protesting here. But the first mass public protests in San Francisco were held by the Vigilance Committee in the 1850s to decry the rampant crime in early San Francisco. However it is likely that the Committee's public hangings did more to stop the crime than did the protests.
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