Operation First Casualty

Anti-war protest and street theater

San Francisco, November 28, 2008

The anti-American group "Iraq Veterans Against the War" decided that the day after Thanksgiving would be a good time to stage an anti-war protest and street theater in San Francisco's Union Square -- because California's most crowded shopping district on the busiest day of the year would provide the largest audience for their antics. I place "Iraq Veterans Against the War" in quotation marks because it's quite evident to anyone who sees them in action that few of their members are actual veterans, and they only claim to be veterans to give their ridiculous tales the tone of authority.

They named their action "Operation First Casualty" after the famous quote "The first casualty of war is truth." In this case, however, the first casualty was common sense, not only because 95% of the passersby who happened to witness portions of the protest were completely mystified as to its purpose, but also because IVAW were protesting to end a war that's already over.

(This report is a group effort with some photos by zombietime, others by a contributor who sent in photos using the name "aGirlNamedSue," and others by a photographer who wishes to remain anonymous. The "aGirlNamedSue" photos are credited; the remaining photos are a mixture by the other two photographers.)

The protest started at 11am in San Francisco's Union Square. Despite weeks of intense planning and rehearsal, the IVAW "street theater" flopped even at its very onset, because almost none of the shoppers had the slightest idea what was going on; not only did they not know what was being protested, they didn't even know it was a protest at all, or rather perhaps some kind of high school prank or fraternity hazing ritual. The IVAW actors divided into two groups: about five or six cruel "soldiers" and a dozen or so "innocent civilians." After a couple minutes of chaotic shouting and running through the plaza, the cruel soldiers put black hoods on the innocent civilians and had them lay their heads on the ground, preparing to be executed by the psychotic sadistic Americans.

      (Photo by aGirlNamedSue)

Photographers far outnumbered the protesters. There was a great deal of overly dramatic screaming and shouting as the soldiers ran back and forth abusing the prisoners.

      (Photo by aGirlNamedSue)

The soldiers then performed mock "executions" on a couple prisoners, who yelled "What have I done wrong?" and (in their role as Iraqis) "Get out of my country!" (Iraqi women frequently wear tight white T-shirts and dirty jeans, in case you were curious. The costuming was meticulous.)

Some media members, granting validity to the whole charade, interviewed a "prisoner," as if to imply that by crossing your arms behind your back and kneeling down, suddenly you have an opinion worthy of the evening news.

One of the crazed American psycho-soldiers chose a girl-prisoner and threw her to the ground.

Much crypto-erotic wrestling ensued, in the guise of a sort of Lynndie England/Charles Graner humiliation scene.

The soldiers had to mime holding guns, because the police had informed them ahead of time that the use of toy guns or cardboard cut-out guns (as have been used at earlier Bay Area street theater actions) would result in an immediate termination of the protest.

A Cindy Sheehan/Obama voter got stuck in traffic right in front, almost certainly unaware of what was going on just a few feet away. A perfectly good audience member, squandered -- oh, the tragedy.

There was very high security all around downtown San Francisco that day, in case of terrorist attacks, as indicated by this Homeland Security vehicle parked nearby. Keep in mind that this violence-invoking street theater, which was probably intended to scare and shock shoppers, was happening the day after the blood-soaked massacre by terrorists in Mumbai, India. Really, really good timing, IVAW.

In accordance with their carefully planned (though entirely ill-conceived) script, the "soldiers" then herded half the prisoners several blocks down the street, where they were to be "waterboarded." Since a grand total of zero shoppers or bystanders accompanied the actors from one vignette to the next, no one followed the "plot" of the play, so none of it made any sense to passersby.

To test the boundaries of what the police would allow, the protesters then set off a very small and brief indendiary device on the street, to add drama and scary smoke to the proceedings.

      (Photo by aGirlNamedSue)

On Market Street, some more mystifying "prisoner abuse" took place, as cops monitored the situation carefully.

A few shoppers were in fact genuinely scared, being completely unaware that this was supposed to be play-acting, and not real. Good way to win converts to the anti-American cause, IVAW!

      (Photo by aGirlNamedSue)

The actors, along with dozens of photographers yet zero audience members, then arrived at Yerba Buena Gardens, where the sadistic Americans "waterboarded" the prisoners, which entailed dunking their heads in a fountain. Needless to say, this in no way resembles actual waterboarding.

      (Photo by aGirlNamedSue)

The drama queen in the black skirt and chunky-heeled ankle boots screamed and screamed, hoping for a Best Supporting Actress in a Pointless Street Theater Protest nomination.

      (Photo by aGirlNamedSue)

But the screams were to no avail. A-dunkin' she went.

She pretended to sob for a few minutes afterward, but once she realized no one was looking any more, she broke into a smile, proud of her stellar performance.

She then pieced herself together, and headed off.

Earlier, back at the fountain, World Can't Wait had showed up and gave a "real" waterboarding demonstration, but not a single non-participant was around to witness it. Would you like to be next?

Next, in perhaps the most ill-conceived part of a completely dunderheaded script, the soldiers swarmed through the adjacent Westfield Mall, "shooting" at shoppers and making "rat-a-tat-tat" sounds.

Really, really, really brilliant.

They then stopped in the rotunda and posed like toy soldiers. It was only at this point that I realized we were witnessing little boys at play. Nothing more.

"Mommy, look! I'm a soldier! Bang bang bang!"

No, I am not a child. I am very serious. See how serious I am?

      (Photo by aGirlNamedSue)

The protest then climaxed at the Powell Street Cable Car Turnaround, where phalanxes of out-of-town tourists always stand in an endless line to board San Francisco's legendary cable cars. The protesters' plan was to force the tourists to go through a mock "checkpoint," but the police had pre-emptively nixed that idea, so only the non-soldier protester-actors had to go through the checkpoint. Oh, but those mean soldiers just weren't letting them through!

      (Photo by aGirlNamedSue)

Note, if you will, that they are driving cars! "Vroom vroom! Let us through!" "No! We are cruel Americans and we won't let you through our purposeless checkpoint!"

Notice the very authentic upside-down flag on the soldier's "uniform." (And, in the previous photo, the totally mismatched uniform components.)

Two generations of anti-American protesters meet; a grey-haired leftover from the Vietnam era, trying to relive her past; and a fake soldier from the Bush era, also unknowingly trying to recreate the Vietnam era, but with new costumes.

Ooops, time for another incendiary device, to see how many innocent tourists we can freak out.

      (Photo by aGirlNamedSue)

Next, per the script, the checkpoint devolved into a riot, and "shooting" broke out!

Everyone has been massacred by the diabolical Americans!

We are covered in blood!

The tourists craned their necks for a minute or two. Then got on the cable car and rattled away.

End of protest.

Meanwhile, back up at Union Square, there were supposed to be two additional protests going on. One was an anti-consumerism protest by some "Stop Shopping Day" groups, but it never seemed to materialize. The other was this protest by an anti-fur group, "In Defence of Animals." Finally, a protest I can agree with!

There are two basic fundamentals to any anti-fur protest:
1. Cover the best-looking young woman protester in leopard-spot body paint and a bikini, if it's warm enough;
2. If it's too cold, or if she's unwilling to get nearly naked for the cause, have her climb into a small cage, for that "trapped victim" look.
Looks like we went with option 2 this time around.

And if you have a second attractive volunteer, all the better!

Or, the protesters can just hold up signs. One can only hope that they're wearing fake blood-spattered fur.

And in the background, Lady Death looms.

Happy holidays!

(Click here to return to the main zombietime page.)