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Politics & Policy

Protesters swarm Pacific Heights as Biden mingles with tech, real estate tycoons

People carry signs in protest of U.S. involvement in the Israel-Hamas War
After touching down in Marine One in San Francisco, President Joe Biden and Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi move to their motorcade to head to a fundraiser on Wednesday. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

It was all smiles and sun for President Joe Biden on Wednesday afternoon as he was escorted by military helicopter onto the picturesque Marina Green near the Golden Gate Bridge.

But just like San Francisco’s afternoon weather patterns, everything shifted quickly for the president, and the partly sunny skies became turbulent. 

After touching down in the Marina District, Biden was quickly ferried to two fundraising events that reportedly included a $100,000-a-plate dinner hosted by the Getty family and real estate magnate couple George and Judy Marcus. Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi escorted Biden from the helicopter to the fundraisers.

Nancy Pelosi steps off a helicopter with the help of President Joe Biden as two marines salute on either side.
After touching down in Marine One in San Francisco, President Joe Biden and Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi made their way to a fundraiser on Wednesday. | Source: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

At the nearby Alta Plaza Park, just a block from a Secret Service blockade, a crowd of a couple of hundred activists gathered to protest the president’s support for Israel, with hopes that Biden would catch a brief sound bite of their cries.

Biden’s fundraising events included a campaign reception with venture capitalist John Doerr, where the president called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “crazy SOB” and bemoaned former President Donald Trump’s sway over the Republican Party. After leaving in a motorcade, Biden arrived at the home of philanthropist Gordon Getty, where Biden, Pelosi, Marcus and others gathered in a large dining room lined with expensive artwork.

“Time and again, Republicans show they are the party of chaos and division,” Biden told dinner guests. Biden added that nine heads of state had pulled him aside, imploring him to win reelection.

“As I walk out of meetings, a head of state will find an excuse to come up close and say ‘You’ve got to win,’ Biden said. “‘You’ve got to win because my democracy is at stake if the other guy wins.'”

Around 6 p.m., a large caravan of protesters marched on the streets of Pacific Heights as police donning riot gear stood by to keep activists away from the fundraiser. Protesters were blocked from going any further by a line of officers at the corner of Baker Street and Pacific Avenue. 

“It makes me and a lot of other people here really frustrated and disgusted,” Rami Abdelkarim, a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement, told The Standard. “That instead of talking to the people that are ultimately going to elect him in November, he’s actually only communicating with people and wealthy donors who can afford his ticket price of $100,000.”

Since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 and the ensuing war in Gaza, protests have been a regular occurrence in San Francisco. Activists have organized high-profile demonstrations, blocking major bridges and intersections in the city. Biden’s visit to San Francisco during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November drew thousands of protesters calling for a cease-fire.

Pelosi’s Pacific Heights home has attracted regular protests, with two activists from the anti-war group Code Pink facing charges for damaging city sidewalks and streets, as well as Pelosi’s garage door, during a Feb. 11 demonstration.

Wednesday was the second of a three-day journey for the president in the Golden State. Biden was in Los Angeles on Tuesday and was expected to visit Silicon Valley next as he courts big-name donors to keep up the cash flow in his reelection campaign.

Protesters on Wednesday night chanted, “Viva viva Palestina” and held signs that called for the protection of Rafah, a city at the southern end of Gaza that Israel has threatened with a ground invasion if Hamas doesn’t release its hostages.

“He’s been confronted and disrupted in almost every city that he’s been to because of his policies around the war in Gaza,” said Violette Mansour, another member of the Palestinian Youth Movement. “I hope he’s feeling the pressure.”

Protesters march down street carring a banner that states no us military aid in israel
Protesters gather near a Secret Service blockade during a demonstration against the Israel-Hamas war on Wednesday. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

Mansour specifically cited the city’s cease-fire resolution, which passed in January in an 8-3 vote after hours of heated public comment.

“The people of San Francisco have stood for a cease-fire and stand with Palestine,” she said.

The San Francisco protest likely won’t be the last Biden encounters on his California trip. Protesters are planning a demonstration in Stanford on Thursday to coincide with an event in the tiny enclave of Los Altos Hills, according to flyers advertising the event.

Annie Gaus contributed to this report.
Gabe Greschler can be reached at