Occupy protesters take issue with Bohemian Club’s annual gathering 

click to enlarge Uninvited guests: Occupy activists are planning a satiric ceremony at the exclusive Bohemian Club’s annual grove party. - BADLYRICPOLICE/FLICKR (CC)
  • badlyricpolice/Flickr (CC)
  • Uninvited guests: Occupy activists are planning a satiric ceremony at the exclusive Bohemian Club’s annual grove party.

The Occupy movement has already targeted the 1 percent where they work, and now activists are going to seek them out where they play.

The upcoming annual redwood grove blowout party of the San Francisco-based Bohemian Club — the exclusive society that hosts some of the world’s most powerful and wealthy men — will be the subject of protest by regional Occupy groups planning to stage demonstrations at an amphitheater less than a half-mile away from the festivities.

Each year, the club invites an increasingly secretive list of revelers to frolic, relax and network at the famous grove near the Russian River in Sonoma County. This year’s gathering apparently runs from July 14-29, with the protest set to debut on the first day.

But as the Shakespearean saying on the Bohemian Club’s downtown San Francisco headquarters clearly states, “Weaving spiders, come not here” — that is, no deal-making is allowed during the event, and no cellphones either. Still, Occupiers say they know better.

Demonstrators plan to hold a “creation of care” ceremony, a satire of the Bohemian Club’s “cremation of care” ritual, which reportedly involves a cultish theatrical production culminating in the symbolic banishment of worldly concerns with fire.

Although the gathering has been infiltrated by undercover journalists in the past, Occupy organizers say they have no plans for any such subterfuge.

“We’re only encouraging a rally outside Monte Rio,” said Peter Phillips of the Media Freedom Foundation.

Phillips, who wrote a sociological dissertation about the grove activities in 1994, said the event has been protested in the past, but has gone years at a time without a major backlash. But he said the rise of the Occupy movement is a chance to spark more interest and attention.

An open letter to the Bohemian Club from Phillips’ organization asks that it be less secretive and that it also allow women to participate in activities. Bohemian Club spokesman Sam Singer doesn’t see that happening any time soon.

“The club is devoted to music, entertainment, education as well as drinking and cigars and jazz music and some rock ’n’ roll,” Singer said. “The Bohemian Club was founded as a gentleman’s club and remains a gentleman’s club, with no plans to change that.”

Singer responded cordially to Occupy’s plans.

“The Bohemian Club believes in the freedom of assembly and the freedom of speech,” he said. “We hope they also support our right to freedom of assembly.”


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