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Is the Super Bowl Prepared for Protests? 

Wednesday, Jan 27 2016
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On Jan. 18, what was supposed to be a quiet Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday , protesters chased Mayor Ed Lee all around town. Demonstrators, angry over the city's handling of the Dec. 2 police shooting of Mario Woods, took credit for the mayor canceling a Monday morning appearance at a labor breakfast – and were definitely credited for booing Lee off of the stage at a later MLK event.

All of that was child's play compared to what happened at around 3:30 p.m., when protesters chained themselves to cars and shut down all four westbound lanes of the Bay Bridge's eastern span for an hour.

The Bay Area has a long and proud tradition of public demonstrations. And now, with undercurrents of discontent stemming from the Woods shooting, from the national movements against over-policing of black people, from the Bay Area's continuing housing and affordability crises, even from the long-ago Occupy movement, the Super Bowl is coming to town – and with it, the biggest media caravan and the biggest captive television audience America knows.

Something major is afoot, and public officials know it. They're just not exactly sure what it could be — or where and when it's coming.

Already, marches and demonstrations are planned and advertised on Facebook. But the "real" show — the equivalent of a blocked Bay Bridge or a takeover of a BART train, except seen by a worldwide audience of more than 100 million viewers — is a closely held secret known only by its organizers (if something like that is even in the works).

None of the members of black.seed, who organized the Bay Bridge protest, responded to queries from SF Weekly. Organizers from the Mario Woods Coalition, which made Lee do the offstage shuffle, declined to speak with SF Weekly as well.

But opportunities abound. Buses ferrying fans to the game could be blocked. The NFL owners' dinner, in a public place, could be made ugly.

Then again, it could all be thwarted, or the Super Bowl could come and go without a public spectacle (other than the game and attendant commercial orgy).


"There's gonna be some funny shit going on here," a veteran media consultant speaking on background told SF Weekly. "It makes me sick to see this coming."

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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