Opting Out of “Market Society”

East of Bridgeway

By N8 (2015)

Film Review

East of Bridgeway is about an off-the-grid “anchor out” community of about 50 families living on boats in Sausalito Harbor and their ongoing harassment by authorities.

While boat owners are technically squatting, there’s no federal law prohibiting off shore anchorage and state and local laws are too vague to be enforceable.

Because they can’t legally evict them, Sausalito City Council periodically harasses boat owners (especially if their numbers start to exceed 50) by hiring a legal contractor to impound and crush some of their boats. At other times, the Sausalito police and Marin County sheriff set up check points to accost owners as they row out to their boats. Or they call in the Coast Guard who demand to board residents’ boats to make sure they have life vests.

Residents view Coast Guard boardings as illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. The Coast Guard maintains that maritime law grants them the right to board any vessel (without a warrant) in open water. However this viewpoint clearly contradicts a Supreme Court ruling in a Florida case that limits this right to vessels involved in international trade or transport.

The filmmaker intersperses snapshots of the close knit “anchor out” community with heated Sausalito City Council meetings and a TED talk on the transformation of American democracy to a “market society,” in which everything is up for sale and so-called market values dominate every aspect of life.

It’s clear that the Sausalito “anchor out” community is consciously resisting this transformation. In their view, they’re simply demanding the freedom to be themselves. One community member states this quite eloquently when he observes that liberty lies in the hearts of men and women – that it can’t be protected by the Constitution or the courts if it dies in the human heart.


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