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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wild Old Women Breathe New Life into the Occupy Movement

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 2:50 PM

click to enlarge Wild takes on a whole new meaning when you are 80 - COURTESY OF OCCUPYBERNAL.ORG
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  • Wild takes on a whole new meaning when you are 80

Last week we regaled readers with a story about a small group of seniors who successfully shut down a Bank of America in Bernal Heights -- a tale that seems to have re-energized San Francisco's Occupy movement.

Since then, Tita Caldwell, 80, has been getting nonstop calls and e-mails from supporters all over, excited by this small group of "slow-moving" seniors and its unexpected contribution to the anti-Wall Street protest. Every Thursday -- or at least every other Thursday -- you can see this group of nine women, ages 69 to 82, making the trek from their senior housing complex to the Bank of America on Mission Street where they stage an afternoon protest.

"We are not out to be cute," Caldwell told SF Weekly. "We

want to be taken seriously, because we are serious."

But nobody is making light of their actions, especially not Bank of America, which closed its doors and locked up on two separate occasions when employees saw the seniors walking toward the bank. Caldwell laughed it off, saying they had no plans to occupy the BofA. "That's too demanding," she said.

The group -- which has dubbed itself the Wild Old Women -- started last month after Caldwell, and a few others frustrated by the economic meltdown, began discussing ways in which they could join Occupy without actually having to occupy a bank or the Port of Oakland.

"When the occupation started [in San Francisco], I really wanted to be part of it, but I had to be careful because I recently had surgery and I don't want to fall," Caldwell told us. While at a potluck, the women started making plans to meet weekly outside the nearest bank and protest.

There's no chanting, tents, or tear gas, and certainly no cops in riot gear. Rather, the Wild Old Women hold signs and hand out pamphlets, trying to talk to people and convince them to move their money out of the big banks, Caldwell said.

"We are appalled by the evictions, and we are appalled by the joblessness," Caldwell told us. "And the rich keep getting tax breaks -- that includes the banks."

For now, the group has only committed to weekly protests through the end of the month. After that, they will reconvene and decide whether they feel like pushing forward. But the pressure for the Wild Old Women to continue is definitely mounting, as their fame for being the "little old ladies" fighting the banks continues to grow.

"I am not little and I am not a lady," Caldwell quipped. "I just want to feel useful."

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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