By Alex Emslie
More than 300 people peacefully marched from San Francisco’s Union Square Saturday in protest of the Dec. 2 fatal officer-involved shooting of Mario Woods.
“Welcome to Super Bowl of Justice,” Daniel Landry with the Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition said late Saturday morning, before the march left Union Square. “This department, this Police Commission, this city refuses to recognize the will of the people.”
Hundreds of police officers surrounded the small crowd as it clogged Powell Street then marched down Market Street to chants of “Fire Chief Suhr.”
Police warned over a loudspeaker that protesters would be arrested if they refused to leave the street, and when the crowd approached the gates to Super Bowl City, they ran into a line of police officers with long batons and riot helmets.
Demonstrators moved to the sidewalk just before 12:30 p.m., but Market Street remained closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic for the next hour and 30 minutes.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Oakland resident Patrick Simmons. “They’re trampling on our First Amendment rights. I don’t think this is a good use of city money.”
SFPD Commander Robert O’Sullivan told march organizer Felicia Jones that the demonstrators did not have a permit and would not be allowed to proceed.
Saturday’s protest is likely just the beginning of demonstrations hoping to capture national attention as the Bay Area hosts Super Bowl 50 and related celebrations.
More than 1,000 people have responded to a social media call to attend a protest on Wednesday that will focus on San Francisco’s policies on homelessness and reports of increased citation of the city’s homeless leading up to the Super Bowl celebrations.
“They spent $5 million that the NFL is not going to reimburse them for to put on this party for billionaires,” Simmons said. “At the same time, they’re kicking out all the homeless people. That $5 million could have gone to house some homeless people.”
The crowd dwindled and police in riot gear left Market Street shortly after 2 p.m.
Some demonstrators swooped around the police blockade and regrouped inside Super Bowl City, however.
There were no reports of arrests, vandalism or violence.