A group of about 20 people celebrated the sixth anniversary of a “Tax the Rich” protest on Monday, and they believe it is the longest-running domestic protest in Berkeley history.
The group gathered outside the Oaks Theatre on Solano Avenue at 5 p.m., like they have been doing every week since Sept. 12, 2011. (They come at 4 p.m. in the winter.) They had a huge sheet cake to mark the occasion and sang a song specially written for the anniversary.
“Even though we got rained on, we had a really good response today,” said Kelly Hammargren, who has been a regular at the protest since its early years and who organized the Monday anniversary. “A lot of people drove by and gave us a thumbs up and honked their horns.”
When Evelyn Glaubman got the group started it was before the Occupy movement got off the ground with its harsh critique of the economic divide in the United States. The group initially held up signs saying “Tax the Rich” and “Increase taxes on the wealthy,” in front of the Oaks and Chase Bank.
Since 2011, other pressing public issues have come to the fore, not least the Black Lives Matter movement and the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. While the Berkeley protesters still carry “Tax the Rich” signs, they have added new signs speaking out about other issues over the years, said Hammargren.
Those who have shown up regularly have become friends and many of them also work on other issues, she said. Hammargren and Tree Fitzpatrick, another regular protester, frequently attend City Council meetings and have worked on various election initiatives. Harry Brill, who recently wrote about the group for the Daily Planet, is a former college professor and long-time activist. He was for years the main organizer of the demonstrations.
Hammargren said the regular time of the protest makes it easier to fit into one’s schedule.
“It’s one day a week. It’s an hour. It’s the camaraderie of the group. We catch up and we see what’s happening with our activism.
Update 4:10 p.m.: This article has been updated to say that Kelly Hammargren organized the Monday protest.