SAN FRANCISCO—The protest kicked off just a few feet from Super Bowl City, the commercial playground behind security fences on the Embarcadero, where football fans were milling about drinking beer, noshing on $18 bacon cheeseburgers, and lining up for a ride on a zip line down Market Street.
The protesters held up big green camping tents painted with slogans such as “End the Class War” and “Stop Stealing Our Homes,” and chanted phrases blaming San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee for a whole range of problems, including the catchy “Hey Hey, Mayor Lee, No Penalty for Poverty.” They blocked the sidewalk, battling with tourists, joggers, and city workers, some of whom were trying to wheel their bikes through the crowd to get to the ferries that would take them home.
San Francisco is a city that loves to protest. This is where many counter-cultural movements gained traction: the hippies, the beat generation, the gay-rights movement.
And protests in recent weeks have followed in that tradition. Last month, during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, people demanding racial equality chained themselves to their cars and blocked all five lanes of the Bay Bridge. Protesters drowned out a Boys’ Chorus during Mayor Ed Lee’s inauguration last month, calling for the city’s police chief to resign. The protest outside Super Bowl city was the first of many expected during Super Bowl week, including one by thousands of Uber drivers who say they plan to bring traffic to a standstill around Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.