The dirt was still cold from the night. The fog hung heavy. The portable toilet that protesters had asked the city to approve had been delivered in the dark. And Occupy Santa Rosa was, as it had been since last Saturday, in place outside City Hall.
"This is a job just like any other; we're just not getting paid," said James Ludeman, 49, an electrical engineering student at Santa Rosa Junior College.
He'd been there for much of each day since the event began last weekend with a march of more than 2,500 people, part of a growing nationwide expression of sometimes vague, sometimes specific anger that was ignited by Occupy Wall Street in New York.
Occupy Santa Rosa — whose Oct. 15 kickoff was the nation's sixth-largest such demonstration — stirred slowly Thursday. Some people strolled up, grabbed a few pastries and walked away.
A young man in a blanket dozed in a chair. The scheduled yoga class was not held. A man drove up, dropped off a bag of oranges, and left. Ludeman and two women flashed signboards at passing traffic, earning occasional honks.
His sign read:
"Want Demands? End the Wars. Tax the Rich. Stop Corporate Rule. Honor the Earth."
A few sleeping bags, medical supplies, a stack of cardboard to be fashioned into signs lined the wall of the city's Community Development Department offices.
A clean-cut, middle-age man, who said he was a federal employee and didn't want to be identified, criticized the political system. It favors, he said, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans who, according to the New York Times, take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976.
Nearby, Karl Kummerle, 18, of Galt — a small city near Sacramento quite unrelated to John Galt, the hero of "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn Rand's paean to unfettered capitalism — wrote: "What We Want" on a new sign.
"I'm hoping to instigate in the public's eye a sense that they can take small steps toward change that aren't too radical," Kummerle said, calling for people to take their money from national banks and deposit it in credit unions, which are owned and controlled by their members.
Reports circulated that a group of business-person types walking between City Hall and the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce had delivered lunch to the protesters.
An alarm on Marian McDonald's smartphone reminded her to feed her parking meter. The retired nurse from Sebastopol was at the Oct. 15 demonstration.
"It's about the rule of the people, not the money," said McDonald, 67. "If the Arabs can demand democracy, so can we."
Jim Schissler, 66, a retired AT&T technician, waited for his wife, an attorney. He'd come down from Windsor to "be another face here," he said.
"The people who can come in the day are very young, or homeless," he said. "They're kind of placeholders until the middle-class workers can come. And they do come."
He marched on Saturday and came on Tuesday evening, too, staying through to Wednesday morning to ensure an overnight presence.
"We need to re-regulate Wall Street," he said. "And totally get the big money out of politics, the lobbyists and corporations. It's corrupting everybody, the people don't stand a chance."