Obama arrives for two-day Bay Area visit


President Obama has arrived at San Francisco International Airport for a two-day visit to the Bay Area.

Obama will appear at two fundraisers for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer this evening (May 25) before heading to the East Bay on Wednesday to visit a Fremont solar company.

Air Force One touched down at about 5:12 p.m. and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom greeted President Obama upon his arrival.

After exiting the plane, Obama shook hands with Newsom, waved and was whisked away by his motorcade, which consisted of about two dozen vehicles. The president planned to head his first fundraiser of the evening at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel.

Several San Francisco streets are being closed and bus routes altered to accommodate Obama's visit.

Fourth Street was shut down between Market and Mission streets this afternoon and won't reopen until noon on Wednesday. Mission Street will also be closed from Third to Fourth streets during that time.

Broadway Street has been shut down between Divisadero and Lyon streets, until 10 p.m. today, police said. Broderick, Baker and Lyon streets are also closed between Pacific Avenue and Vallejo Street.

At 6 p.m., Powell Street was to be shut down between Pine and Sacramento streets and California Street will be closed between Mason and Grant streets. Those closures were expected to last about an hour.

Muni service, including cable car lines, will be affected, and riders should visit or call 311 to find out how to get to their destinations.

A diverse crowd of protesters began gathering outside the Fairmont today starting at 3 p.m., including tea partiers, anti-war protesters and environmental activists.

Answer, or Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, was among the groups protesting on Mason Street.

The group wants the government to seize BP's assets in the wake of the oil spill off the Gulf Coast, spokesman Richard Becker said.

ANSWER is also demanding unconditional amnesty for immigrants and Becker said they want to see an end to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq because "it's a fundamental cause of the economic crisis.''

Qurpa Maki, a Bolivian immigrant who lives in San Francisco, said he was protesting today to express his disdain and opposition to anti-immigrant groups, saying, "People need to be treated human first.''

"Frostpaw," a man dressed in a polar bear suit representing the Center for Biological Diversity, was in attendance and planned to ask Obama to suspend drilling in the Arctic this summer.

Other protesters demanded changes to immigration law, environmental review processes and foreign policy.

Some demonstrators carried a large pink banner reading, "Climate Change, the Only Change We Get?''

The East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy planned to ask Obama to keep his campaign promises of immigration reform and to change or rescind executive orders and programs that force local law enforcement agencies to work with federal immigration officials.

The alliance planned to hold a prayer vigil and display a community altar with photos of families who have been separated by immigration policies.

Protest organizers acknowledged it is unlikely any of the groups will have direct access to Obama today, but said they hope to inspire grassroots activism and draw attention to their causes.

Bay Area Patriots, the local branch of the Tea Party movement, also planned to protest outside the hotel.

Some bystanders this evening were drawn to the area because of the commotion and prospect of catching a glimpse of the president.

A woman who said she was in town from Los Angeles, attending a conference at the Mark Hopkins hotel, stood at the southwest corner of California and Mason streets. She said she wanted to see how close she could get to the president, and added, "In Los Angeles, because you're driving, you wouldn't be able to stop to see this sort of thing.''

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Like this comment
Posted by Norma
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2010 at 9:51 pm

It was a woman - TALL and beautiful - in the polar bear suit - that made us cry a lot.

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