Activists Flock To Super Bowl 50 For Massive Protests

A million sports fans are descending on San Francisco to celebrate the Super Bowl, and so are homeless advocates, Black Lives Matter protesters, climate change opponents, and dozens of other activist groups.

If the issue has ever made headlines, expect to see a protest about it in the Bay Area next week.

The protestors hope to use the national spotlight from the Super Bowl to draw attention to everything from immigration and urban farming to police brutality and the rights of African Americans.

The sheer number of Bay Area protests, beginning Saturday and continuing through game day, have some people worried about massive traffic snarls, crowds, and police standoffs.

Lisa Marie Alatorre, from the Coalition on Homelessness, told the San Francisco Chronicle her group is hoping to capitalize on the Super Bowl to get the word out about their message.

“A lot of people are upset, and having millions of eyes on San Francisco is an opportunity to get national and international solidarity with the people and causes here.”

Earlier this month, Black Lives Matter protestors shut down the San Francisco Bay Bridge during rush hour by chaining themselves and their cars to the freeway to protest the city’s handling of the Mario Woods police shooting.

Now, in the lead up to the Super Bowl, some law enforcement officials are worried about copycat rallies that could disrupt traffic and hamper week-long festivities.

Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti-Police Terror Project, told the Mercury News she would be shocked if there were no protests during Super Bowl weekend.

“It would behoove organizers who want to get the message out about the atrocities happening to black and brown people to utilize that weekend when there will be so many people here from around the world.”

A march to protest the police killing of Mario Woods is scheduled for Wednesday, beginning at 11 a.m. in Union Square and ending at the base of Market Street.

Homeless advocates will also be out in force during the weeklong Super Bowl celebration to protest the city’s treatment of transients and demand city funding to end the housing crisis.

City crews have been pushing the homeless away from downtown as the Super Bowl approaches, Jennifer Friedenbach with the Coalition on Homelessness told the San Francisco Appeal.

From homeless people’s perspective they’re feeling really squeezed.

The demonstrators plan to set up their own tent city Wednesday, Feb. 3, next to Super Bowl City to protest the city spending $5 million on a corporate event while residents remain homeless.

Dozens of other advocate groups, including Occupy the Farm, plan to stage protests drawing hundreds and perhaps thousands of demonstrators to Bay Area streets, but many rallies are still in the planning stages.

Occupy Oakland plans to meet at Sinbads next to the Ferry Building at 4:30 p.m. and walk to Super Bowl City where they will demand housing for the homeless.

A protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership is planned for Thursday at noon outside 1 Post Street.

Sally Hindman, director of Youth Spirit Artworks, told the San Francisco Chronicle her group plans to camp outside Berkeley City Hall in support of homeless youth.

This El Niño situation with the homeless all over our area should bring out the best in Americans, and maybe by having the whole nation see what’s going on we can roll up our sleeves and solve the problem right here at our doorstep.

Protests have also been planned by SOS San Francisco and Bloodstained Men & Their Friends.

Hopefully, the massive law enforcement presence in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area will ensure traffic continues to move despite the protests.

[AP Photo/Eric Risberg]

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