Mixed messages - Page 2

OccupySF erects a growing tent city — over the mayor's opposition

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Not going anywhere: The mayor wants to get rid of the tents, but OccupySF isn't moving
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY STEVEN T. JONES

Indeed, when the Guardian sought details on "the plan" Kim said she was developing with Lee, her staffers told us there was nothing in writing or major tenets they would convey. And mayoral Press Secretary Christine Falvey told us, "There's not really a plan, per se, because the movement is so fluid," although she confirmed that the city would not allow tents or other structures: "The tactic of camping overnight, he does not support."

But OccupySF protesters were defiant as they streamed to the microphone by the dozens during public comment, decrying the city's crackdown and claiming the right to occupy public spaces and to have the basic infrastructure to do so. As a woman named Magic proclaimed, "This can be a celebration or a battle, but we will not back down."

The next afternoon, a large group of OccupySF protesters took their complaints about mistreatment by officers to the Police Commission meeting. Previously, Police Chief Greg Suhr had taken the same stance as Lee, with whom he had consulted before ordering the raid, claiming to support OccupySF but oppose overnight camping (see "Crackdown came from the top," Oct. 11).

"We will surgically and as best as possible and with as much restraint as possible try to deal with the hazards while protecting people's First Amendment rights," Suhr had said, reiterating a ban on tents and infrastructure.

But by the end of the long Police Commission hearing — which was peppered by angry denunciations and chants of "SFPD where is your humanity?" — Suhr seemed to soften his position: "We have no future plans to go into the demonstration. We know that it's for the long haul."

OccupySF members interpreted Suhr's remarks, which went on to raise concerns over potential future public health hazards that a growing encampment might present, as a change in the policy Lee had outlined a day earlier, erupting in the cheer, "Now that's what I'm talking about!"

In the wake of that meeting, more than 40 tents — including a working kitchen and fully stocked medical tent — have been erected in Justin Herman Plaza, although neither the Police Department nor Mayor's Office have answered Guardian inquiries seeking to clarify what current city policy is regarding OccupySF. But for now, protesters have declared victory over the city and are happy to be turning their full attention back toward powerful banks, corrupt corporations, and the rest of "the 1 percent."

"I'm really proud of the OccupySF participants who went to the meeting today," Zoe D'Hauthuille, a 19-year-old protester, told the Guardian after the Oct. 18 meeting. "I feel like they were really honest and super effective at getting people to realize that we need certain things, and that the city is violating our rights."

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