As President Barack Obama made a brief fundraising visit to San Francisco Tuesday, citizens who voted overwhelmingly for him in 2008 gave him an earful — though he probably didn’t hear it.
Hundreds of people angry about federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, a proposed oil pipeline from Canada, Wall Street bailouts, the war in Afghanistan and much, much more waited outside the W Hotel, where Obama attended a lunchtime fundraiser.
But Obama’s motorcade was escorted to the hotel via a route away from the protesters, who were left to shout and chant among themselves behind police barricades.
“I was a supporter of Obama, but I’m so disillusioned right now,” said protester Catherine Woods. “And it seems to be getting worse and worse.”
Woods was one of dozens of people carrying signs opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast. And she said Obama’s failure to raise taxes on the wealthy and implement a public health care option was “bit by bit, chipping away, eroding the whole platform he campaigned on: Change that you can believe in.”
Some of the loudest protests came from medical marijuana supporters, who at an earlier news conference decried an apparent federal policy change under which U.S. attorneys recently threatened to seize property owned by landlords of pot clubs.
State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who has supported the legalization of marijuana, said he was “disappointed and confused” by the Justice Department’s recent shift on medical cannabis dispensaries. He called it a “very, very heavy-handed strategy that is going to make a lot of innocent people suffer.”
Tuesday’s protests included chants of “DEA, go away” and “We’re patients, not criminals.”
Later in the day, Supervisor David Campos introduced a resolution at the Board of Supervisors calling on the federal government to “respect state law.”
As participants in San Francisco’s Occupy movement complained outside about Obama’s coddling of the “1 percent,” Obama spoke to a 200-person crowd, each of whom paid at least $5,000 to attend.
Obama drew a distinction between his economic plans and those of his Republican rivals, whom he said are only interested in cutting taxes for the wealthy and eliminating regulations.
“It’s not as if we haven’t tried what they’re selling,” Obama said. “We have. And it didn’t work.”
Other protesters focused on the state of health care in the country.
“As nurses, we see broad declines in the health status of our communities, and all the administration’s been talking about are cuts,” said DeAnn McEwen, who works at a Southern California trauma center.
Pipeline opponents Sue and Bob Shattuck, a married couple from Danville, also said they had serious concerns about Obama preserving Social Security for future generations.
“I haven’t heard definitive statements from him that he will protect it, no matter what,” Sue Shattuck said.
Yet the Shattucks, both 70 years old and retired teachers, worked for Obama’s presidential campaign and agreed they will vote for him again.
“What would be the alternative?” said Bob Shattuck.
Here are some the things that protesters who greeted Barack Obama on Tuesday want the president to address.
- Cancel proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast
- Curtail federal crackdown on California medical cannabis dispensaries
- Renounce Wall Street bailouts
- Stop war in Afghanistan
- End cuts to health care and Medicare
- Free alleged whistle-blower Bradley Manning
- Kill the drones, not innocent people
- Heal America, tax Wall Street
- Stop SFPD abuse
- Get the U.N. out of the U.S.
- Unconditional global compassion