SFPD raids OccupySF camp, seizes gear, but protesters remain

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Last night, San Francisco Police officers showed up at Occupy San Francisco for the first hostile altercation that the SF movement has had with cops so far, and among the first police crackdowns on the larger Occupy Wall Street movement. The encampment was cleared of tents and supplies, but protesters remained at the site and the incident could serve to broaden the movement and strengthen its resolve.

Around 9:30 pm, a police officer pulled up in an unmarked car and, with little comment, distributed fliers amongst the approximately 200 protesters camped out in front of the Federal Reserve building at 101 Market Street, where I was camping with the protesters and reporting a story for next week's Guardian.

The fliers stated that we were in "violation of one or more of the following local ordinances or state laws," and then listed six laws, including open flames on a city street without a permit, lodging in a public place, preparing or serving food without a permit, and violating the city's sit/lie ordinance. The order did not look legitimate, as it did not include an author, a timeline for the police action, or any dates. The atmosphere turned tense as protesters tried to decide how to react. 

The camp had substantial infrastructure at this point, with a kitchen area, medical tent, supplies tent, tech area, and about 20 other tents for meeting and for lodging. The kitchen was largely set up by Food Not Bombs and had a propane-powered stove. Kitchen committee members immediately turned off the stove and closed the kitchen upon receipt of the notice, eliminating any open flames and serving of food.

A general assembly was called and emotions ran high as protesters fleshed out the intricacies of nonviolent protest, resistance, and the consensus-based decision making system that had served them so well in past weeks, when faced with a more urgent and high-stakes situation. Despite anger and disagreements, the group vowed to remain nonviolent.

A call was put out via Twitter, Facebook, email, and phone for supporters to come to the scene. Within a half hour at least 100 more people had come, including members of Occupy Oakland, which just began this week.

Around 11 pm, about 60 cops showed up as well as four Department of Public Works trucks. The cops stood on the far side of Main Street, seemingly awaiting orders. Thirty minutes later one protester, Alexandra List, told the General Assembly that she had speaking to the commanding officer, Captain Charlie Orkes. He told her that if the camp and all the food, equipment, and other items that the camp had amassed were not completely removed in 30 minutes, they would arrest everyone. 

Some protesters sprang to action taking down tents, while others discussed the possibility of risking arrest. It was unclear what would happen to confiscated items and for many travelers and homeless individuals currently living and organizing at the camp, they risked losing most or all of their personal belongings. All the tents were taken down, but the stuff was not removed. The camp had been receiving truckloads of donations per day, and finding a vehicle and destination to transport it all was difficult.  

Fear and anticipation mingled with the excitement of having so much support and interest, locally and around the country. One protester, Zaigham Kabir of Oakland, said "There's been a lot of confusion. It looks like a couple hundred people just came here. I also heard that there's 10,000 people watching on livestream right now." 

Sup. John Avalos – the only mayoral candidate to take part in last week's rally and march – came to the site around 12:40 am. He spoke several times with Capt. Orkes and also reportedly called Police Chief Greg Suhr in an attempt to mediate the situation and protect the protesters. He was the only supervisor or mayoral candidate to arrive on the scene.

Around 1 am, protesters saw cops put on riot gear and bring out batons. They then marched up Main to Market and formed a line around the remainder of the physical encampment, blocking protesters from their belongings. As protesters sat on the ground, imploring the cops to leave their things alone and chanting "Join Us! You're the 99 percent too!" DPW workers loaded everything into five trucks. Tubs of food were spilled on the ground as they dismantled the kitchen, taking donated food, water. and supplies (there was so much food in the kitchen that only hours before, protesters had begun turning away food donations).

It was 1:45 am when protesters began taking to the streets to block the trucks. About 20 ran in front of the line of trucks to link arms and stacked wooden pellets, which had been used to elevate the camp during the rain, to form a barricade. One man lay down in front of the truck, smiling with his banjo in hand. They yelled, "That's not trash! Don't throw it away!" Soon, about 250 protesters were linking arms, surrounding the line of trucks. A few brought over municipal trash cans and road blocks to form a barricade around the perimeter.

Throughout the night, many protesters reported conflicted expressions on officers' faces. One such officer stood now in front of a truck with an American flag that had flown in the camp still valiantly flying from its post in the DWP truck-bed garbage heap.

Eventually, the trucks backed out of the circle and began driving down Main Street, when protesters ran to try stand, sit, and lie in front of them. While trying to remove the protesters, one woman was hit and pushed and another man was beaten down and reportedly kneed in the stomach. There was one arrest. It has been reported that the officer responsible for most of this behavior was Officer Pascua, who apparently said to several protesters, including Dylan Brignon of Fremont, "I can't wait til I get the chance to beat your faces in." 

The Guardian has called Chief Suhr, Mayor Ed Lee, and the SFPD and is awaiting a statement on the tactics and decision to raid the camp.

The trucks made it out of there by about 2:30 am. About 50 cops and 100 protesters remained in a standoff on Main and Market, and protesters chanted, sang, and held a large sign reading "We love you" and police stayed in a silent line, batons in hand.

By 3 am, protesters had regrouped. All of the structure was gone, but the occupation was still there. Protesters pledged to remain indefinitely despite the night's events, and to continue to grow. Around 4 am, some cops returned to the site, and throughout the night there were seven or eight police cars circling the block at all times. 

Protesters awoke this morning to a dozen or so police officers guarding the Federal Reserve building. There had already been donations of money, blankets and sleeping bags at 3 am in response to the events, and at 7 am the first food donation since raid came in and the protesters ate a free breakfast. 

Said Kabir, "The fact is, we're all here in solidarity. We're still here. And we're not leaving."

Comments

The Federal Reserve Bank is a private company, but if the protestors were peaceably assembled on public property, were not committing violations of law or disrupting the "bank" or it's customers, then the SFPD actions were illegal, in contravention of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing the right to peaceful assembly and a felony under federal law.

An attorney, versed in Constitutional rights issues, is needed at the protest site as soon as possible, and Constitutional rights violations should be documented as evidence for the prosecution of those officers committing the felony.

Under California law, a citizen has the right to 1) use any "necessary and reasonable means" to prevent the commission of a felony in his/her presence and 2) take any necessary and reasonable measures to protect himself/herself from a criminal assault on his/her person.

Cities, States or local municipalities may not make laws that violate or facilitate the violation of an individual's right to protection under the U.S. Constitution.

Document and prosecute.

Posted by J L Henager on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

and sidewalks? Really? I must have missed that day at Civics class.

There was clear disruption. It was barely possible to traverse that block as a pedestrian, and access to a Federal building was made difficult. I also saw people sitting and lying, and the Sit-Lie law has received no constitutional challenge.

But hey, if you want to hire a constitutional lawyer to try and get you off a loitering rap, then fork out that retainer and you're off to the races.

The Wall Street protestors are on PRIVATE LAND - that makes a big difference. It's the SFPD's job to keep thruways clear and prevent obstructions and hazards. There is no case against them, and multiple charges they can bring to bear against those who do not move on when requested.

Posted by Don on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

Sounds like old fashioned duel,

You can't get much more Downtown and Downtown interests than the Federal Reserve in Downtown San Francisco.

Anyone have a live link to the action?

h.

Posted by h. brown on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

At least some of the police on hand last no doubt got their start on beating down protest exactly 22 years ago on Oct. 6, 1989, when half the SFPD officers on duty shut down the Castro for an entire Friday evening in reaction to a small, peaceful march organized by ACT UP/San Francisco. Happy anniversary of the Castro Sweep Police Riot to you SFPD — always first to the party when the authorities decide to shred the First Amendment.

Posted by Gerard Koskovich on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

..as an alternative location for OCCUPYSF. How appropriate, I'm sure she would love it and be down there mixing martini's. I believe it is under Park & Rec, wouldn't that make it 'easier to occupy'. Certainly convenient to the Financial district, highly visible, and more comfortable sleeping on grass rather than concrete. Just asking.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

No, if we were to camp there Rec & Park would just sell it to somebody so the owner could kick us off :-)

Posted by 'anonymous' on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

like those in NYC. At least a private landowner MIGHT let them stay there. Whereas a city PD has an affirmative obligation to keep sidewalks and streets free, and enforce the removal of any protest that doesn't have a license from the City

If the message of the protestors is purely peaceful and non-confrontational, then why can't that be conducted at a safe distance, in the same was as abortion opponents have to do?

Or is there a double standard?

Posted by Don on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

Do you really think all this makes a difference PaulT?

What's you hoped for outcome, you frustrated loser?

Protest leader through bullhorn:
"Uh, some asshole on the Bay Guardian website says we should just give it up.
Hey everybody! Let's just all go home!"
Everybody:
"Well, okay. But only because a Troll made us doubt ourselves."

Posted by Guest on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

Now the bad guys are arguing we should be on private land where we can be marginalized away from key financial center hotspots.

Civil disobedience is useless if it doesn't challenge law and authority.

Tell you what PaulT-Wanda-Bill-Don, as soon as you join our movement, that's when you can pontificate on how to run it.

Posted by 'anonymous' on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

here are some photographs i took of the raid:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/68353769@N07/sets/72157627709003099/

Posted by yule log on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

Some of these numbers are off. There weren't 250 people there. We outnumbered the cops (50-80) but 250 is too high. Maybe 150.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

If you were from Occupy SF, you would have used a name or referred us to a source.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

There are those people who say that ‘this should be done legally! you should get your permits, you should follow the rules!’

Fuck that. The Egyptians did not follow the rules in Tahrir, the Israelis are not following the rules in Kikar HaMedina, the Syrians are not following the rules in Homs and Hama, and the Libyans did not follow the rules in Benghazi. Iranians tried to follow the rules in 2009, and we all saw what happened to them.

If we play by the rules, if we congregate where the authorities want us to congregate, then we have already conceded to them. Anywhere in history; when people played by the rules of the authorities, they lost and were marginalized. What made the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s work? What made the sit ins and the marches and the boycotts work? No matter if the activists were told that their marches and sit ins were illegal, they went through with them anyways.

It’s the spirit of these movements we have to emulate, history is a weapon. I have a feeling that this is only getting started. Tahrir, Kikar HaMedina, Benghazi, they are all here, and they are not going away.

Posted by Fralcon on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

There are those people who say that ‘this should be done legally! you should get your permits, you should follow the rules!’

The Egyptians did not follow the rules in Tahrir, the Israelis are not following the rules in Kikar HaMedina, the Syrians are not following the rules in Homs and Hama, and the Libyans did not follow the rules in Benghazi. Iranians tried to follow the rules in 2009, and we all saw what happened to them.

If we play by the rules, if we congregate where the authorities want us to congregate, then we have already conceded to them. Anywhere in history; when people played by the rules of the authorities, they lost and were marginalized. What made the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s work? What made the sit ins and the marches and the boycotts work? No matter if the activists were told that their marches and sit ins were illegal, they went through with them anyways.

It’s the spirit of these movements we have to emulate, history is a weapon. I have a feeling that this is only getting started. Tahrir, Kikar HaMedina, Benghazi, they are all here, and they are not going away.

Posted by Fralcon on Oct. 06, 2011 @ 10:52 pm

@Anonymous,(et al.)
I have never made any claim to be familiar with, or really even interested or concerned with the bullshit legalese, sub sections, wheras', and duplicities enshrined by lawyers and their corporate robber baron paymasters into the reams of fine print by which they try to confine and control our freedoms. That is accepting and playing the game by their rules and submitting to being perpetually locked into the box. But for the sake of argument I will freely acknowledge my ignorance of and frequent contempt for the 'law', which is an ass, make a few assumptions, ask a few questions, and use what uncommon sense of logic I may have.
Predicated on the assumption that SB Park is City (OUR) Property.
It would probably be an excrutiating and lengthy process to sell the property to a 'new owner'. Therefore assume it will remain our property for the immediate future.
I assume the Homeland Security farce has changed the game, but except in extreme cases of immediate threat, would State Rights not trump Federal Rights in how a locality intended to use it's property. My point being would that not essentially take the Feds out of the picture and it would then become a State/Local matter. I also do not believe that SB Park is part of either the State or National Park System but falls under the jurisdiction of SF Park and Rec. Ergo; or whatever; it is up to us locally to regulate it's use. That makes sense to me, but then we get stuck in the mire of SF politics, but if my reasoning is correct then at least we know who we have to face down. Would be fascinating to watch some our local political aspirants caught like deer in the headlights, caught between fight or flight.
I'm done , just ruminating; open to and would welcome feedback, even from discredited dissemblers by any name.
OCCUPYSF
AVANTE ALCALDE AVALOS. The People's Choice.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Oct. 07, 2011 @ 1:25 am

instead of trying to orchestrate a revolution from the comfort and warmth of your rent-controlled apartment?

Or are you getting too old for real action, and prefer to let the kids do the heavy lifting?

Posted by Anonymous on Oct. 07, 2011 @ 7:12 am

Besides the top of your head, to let out noise.
And your delicate fingers to your keyboard?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 07, 2011 @ 7:29 am

God bless Pat Monk.

He's tended to the ill for decades and now doesn't get around so well.

I'm glad he has the internet to make his voice mobile.

h.

Posted by h. brown on Oct. 07, 2011 @ 7:38 am

Thanks h my friend. Actually getting around a little better with a walker and was able to join the march for a few blocks. I think Sue Bierman Park could be a good location for the OCCUPYSF camp.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Oct. 07, 2011 @ 9:39 am

All,

When the local Chinese garrison in Beijing refused to run over the students with their tanks because they knew them, the commie overlords brought in troops from the countryside who hated students to kill them.

When the Turks had problems with the students in the cities they did pretty much the same thing as the Chinese. They brought in troops from the country who not only hated the students but also the City in general.

Did you know that the SFPD no longer recruits from inside the City? Uh huh, they say it's for budgetary reasons.

I'm saying that when the shit hits the fan the 'lateral hires' will kill demonstrators without hesitation. They hate San Francisco and San Francisco values. How do I know this? I talk to them all the time on the street.

SF is an occupied zone with well paid mercenaries protecting the assets of the billionaires who translate their wills to reality through puppet politicians like Willie Brown and Ed Lee.

Adachi for Mayor!!!

Go NIners!

h.

Posted by h. brown on Oct. 07, 2011 @ 11:07 am

All,

When the local Chinese garrison in Beijing refused to run over the students with their tanks because they knew them, the commie overlords brought in troops from the countryside who hated students to kill them.

When the Turks had problems with the students in the cities they did pretty much the same thing as the Chinese. They brought in troops from the country who not only hated the students but also the City in general.

Did you know that the SFPD no longer recruits from inside the City? Uh huh, they say it's for budgetary reasons.

I'm saying that when the shit hits the fan the 'lateral hires' will kill demonstrators without hesitation. They hate San Francisco and San Francisco values. How do I know this? I talk to them all the time on the street.

SF is an occupied zone with well paid mercenaries protecting the assets of the billionaires who translate their wills to reality through puppet politicians like Willie Brown and Ed Lee.

Adachi for Mayor!!!

Go NIners!

h.

Posted by h. brown on Oct. 07, 2011 @ 11:08 am

Example: George Gascon from Arizona

Posted by Greg on Oct. 07, 2011 @ 11:15 am

@yule log. Do you know if any of your pix show the cop, forget his name. who is reported to have he couldn't wait to use his night stick.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Oct. 07, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

Good on SF, stand firm, don't let them keep you down!

Posted by OccupyRichmond-1032 on Oct. 10, 2011 @ 7:48 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2011 @ 8:07 pm