Dailies dutifully vomit out the city's misleading portrait of OccupySF

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Both the Examiner and the Chronicle reported this morning that the OccupySF encampment has become a public health hazard, setting the stage for what many believe is an imminent police raid. The newspapers' only source: a notice that the Department of Public Health handed out to protesters, at their camp in Justin Herman Plaza, at 6am today. I have been reporting eyewitness accounts from OccupySF for several weeks, and if any reporters from these papers had bothered to go there themselves, they would be telling a very different story.

The Department of Public Health states that fecal matter, urine and vomit have been observed in Justin Herman Plaza and on surrounding streets. That’s accurate. Like many streets in San Francisco and in any city, members of the public sometimes relieve themselves on the streets. The difference is that at OccupySF, people from the 300-person community camped out there take it upon themselves to clean up any occurrences of waste as soon as it’s observed. Scheduled cleaning teams coordinated by the camp’s  Sanitation Committee sweep the streets three times per day, and wash when necessary. Late last night, even as protesters focused on plans in case of a police raid, which the city has been threatening everyday for most of the week, protesters went over the camp many times over with brooms.

Perhaps these issues could be resolved if the city were to provide the port-o-potties that Police Chief Greg Suhr and Mayor Ed Lee promised OccupySF last week. At last Wednesday’s Police Commissioner meeting, Suhr said, “We have no future plans to go into the demonstration. We know that it’s for the long haul…I’m actually working with the Mayor’s Office personally to put the port-o-potties and the handwashing stations down there to provide sanitation.”

In an Oct. 20 email to OccupySF, the deputy communications director for Mayor Ed Lee stated that “porta-potties are available by request.” A press release from OccupySF today claimed that “Port-o-potties are currently only available during daytime hours. OccupySF’s repeated requests for 24-hour port-o-potties have not been met.” When we asked mayoral Press Secretary Christine Falvey why the city hasn’t helped mitigate the public health issues they seem to be using as a pretext to break up the camp, she said, “There are porta-potties and hand washing stations at 101 Market Street, as the mayor directed, and are available for demonstrators to use. They are delivered in the morning and removed at night.”

I can confirm that port-o-potties for use at night, when no bathrooms on surrounding blocks are available, are yet to arrive. And police certainly have continued to “go into the demonstration”—making rounds and handing out notices from different city departments every day, “reminders” that protesters are illegally camping in a public park, violating sit/lie ordinances, and are now, apparently, a “public health hazard.” Today, a notice was circulated that cited all of these issues and informed protesters: “You are subject to arrest.” The camp is preparing for a possible police raid tonight.

These issues are not unique to San Francisco. Barbara Ehrenreich reported October 24 that, at Occupy demonstrations throughout the country, “for the individual occupier, one problem often overshadows everything else, including job loss, the destruction of the middle class, and the reign of the 1 percent. And that is the single question: Where am I going to pee?” In her piece in Mother Jones, “Why Homelessness is Becoming an Occupy Wall Street Issue,” Ehrenreich notes that “What the Occupy Wall Streeters are beginning to discover, and homeless people have known all along, is that most ordinary, biologically necessary activities are illegal when performed in American streets—not just peeing, but sitting, lying down, and sleeping.” San Francisco has some of the harshest laws in the country in this regard.

Many cities have accommodated Occupy protesters. Why won’t the city bring port-o-potties? And why are city publications reporting the city’s official statements without any perspective from the encampment itself? The people are speaking: that the powers that be won’t listen is what the Occupy movement is fighting against in the first place.

Comments

These Occupy demonstrations are doomed because there are no objectives. They don't know why they're there. If you are demonstrating against the 1% then why the hell are you doing in on Wall St (or Justin Herman Plaza...). The puppet Republican Party has enabled the widening gap.

Why not demonstrate against the capitalist-invoked state of perpetual war for the U.S. (since Dec 7 1941). All the wars since WWII have been unnecessary U.S. policing efforts in the world spearheaded by the John Foster Dulles' containment program. (The Cold War counts).

Why not demonstrate against the total abscondment of financial market regulation by the U.S. Government. AIG, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs....all own the government and the taxpayers. They're too big to fail.

Pres Obama blew it. He went for health care his first year. Wrong move! Everybody hated Wall St and the banks and insurance companies in 2009. He coulda brought them under control his first year, he didn't. In that one year Wall St regrouped, consolidated and are now more powerful than ever.

Demonstrating against greed? Bwa ha ha ha.

Posted by DanC on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

Dan, your statement simply bears no relation to the reality of what is happening out there.

The Occupy movement has done all of things that you mistakenly believe it hasn't (apparently because you get far too much of your news from mainstream corporate owned and funded media).

Here is just the first statement of Occupy Wall Street:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/01/1021956/-First-official-stateme...

And that statement was quickly followed by a list of legislative and other objectives including reinstating Glass-Steagal.

I recommend you actually join an Occupy encampment and get involved, so you can see that they are indeed actively calling out and working on these very issues.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

Eric - It's one thing to say your against something, it is quite another thing to effectively do something about it. Occupying Wall St is not DOING anything about these issues. Campaigning against and exposing puppet Republicans in Wash DC is doing something. Occupy Capitol Hill...that's doing something. Proclaiming yourself as "one of the 99%" is doing nothing.

Posted by DanC on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

achieve any change. They are too few in number and too passive in intent. It's a non issue.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

You're not seeing it Dan.

The Occupy movement is bringing together thousands of energized organizers to all work together, and brainstorm, and hold teach-ins, on what the problems are, and on the grassroots skills to use to address those problems.

The next step is for those fired up activists to take what they learn, and voice it to others and then use those skills that they become trained in, to make the change that you are talking about happen.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

Most of the main stream "news" media's function is to distribute government and corporate propaganda. When it comes to elections, their golden rule is "Buy an add get a story". The politicians and propositions which are supported by the wealthiest 1%ers have the money to buy adds/commercials and thus we the 99%er rarely hear much if anything about candidates/propositions that might represent our interest.
Even when reporters want to do their jobs fairly the news media owners prohibit them from doing so.
the fix is in!
Join the occupy movement and take back America from the corporate gangsters!!!

Posted by Guestsf t party on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

So no one has said the occupation is legal - in which case kick the filthy bastards out. What's your real point? And why can't the cops say excuse me stinky person, take yourself and your garbage and go home?

The statement on http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/01/1021956/-First-official-stateme... is complete disjointed crap. I'll give you that the bailout is bullshit, but does that imply that all corporations are evil or that anyone who worked for something instead of whining about it in an occupy protest doesn't deserve to get something good out of life.

We need a system that is fair to the well off and the not-so-well off alike. Just because someone was able to make some money does't mean you should take it all from them.

Corporations do serve a purpose. If you're dumb enough to fight to dissolve all the US corporations, then the European or Chinese ones will prospser, take all that wealth you'll never see, and use that to fund healthcare for their own citizens.

Lazy Americans will still get nothing. You will have no healthcare. You will become an illegal immigrant to China and try to steal sociailized healthcare from them.

Thank you for destroying my tolerable American life.

Posted by SFResident on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

Get off your dead ass and go down and do something about it.

Why are you waiting for someone to do it for you, while you scrape your ineffectual fingers back and forth across a keyboard, begging for the world to listen to your whining?

I'll tell you why.
Because you're a piss poor excuse for an American.
You have never accomplished anything of any consequence, and you never will.
So you get upset when you see other people, especially people who don't give a fuck about your gasbag opinions, actually accomplishing something.

It reminds you of what a worthless piece of shit you believe yourself to be.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 11:12 pm

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