Police arrest 55 in early morning raid at Occupy SF

Photo by Yael Chanoff

After more than two months, police have successfully cleared out all of the Occupy SF encampment on Market Street between Main Street and the Embarcadero. In an early morning raid, police completely cleared out the Occupy SF protest site at 101 Market St.

More than 50 protesters were present at 101 Market St. on the evening Dec. 10, as well as at a smaller site across the street. No tents, tarps or other structures had been erected; most protesters had sleeping bags and blankets. Following an afternoon march and a small concert that ended by midnight, protesters were quiet and mostly asleep.

Police previously warned protesters that they were in violation of California Penal Code section 647(e), "lodging in a public place." Police entered the camp and read written notices aloud every 90 minutes or so for more than 24 hours before the raid, but did not give a specific warning as to when enforcement would take place.

Around 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 11, police rushed in, quickly surrounding those who slept in front of the Federal Reserve Building. Without giving them the option to pack up their belongings and leave, police arrested each individual one by one. Protesters who'd set up camp at a smaller site across the street looked on and yelled out in dismay.

Protesters had previously been informed that they were permitted to sleep on the sidewalk between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., as outlined in San Francisco's sit-lie ordinance.

Until about 6 a.m., Market Street between Main and Spear streets was blocked off by over 100 police officers in partial riot gear as well as several police vehicles. At about 5 a.m., Department of Public Works crews arrived and started loading all the protesters' belongings -- mostly sleeping bags, blankets, protest signs, and food -- into trucks.

Several were arrested on charges other than public lodging. Two protesters, who yelled at police as they lined up on the street, were arrested for obstructing traffic.

One man yelled that he was a homeless war veteran and that he wanted his belongings back, which he'd left on the sidewalk in front of 101 Market. He had been loudly decrying police activity for almost 30 minutes when he jeered that an officer "carried a big stick because he had a small dick," at which point three officers immediately grabbed him, brought him inside police lines, and were joined by several other officers in pushing him to the ground and zip-tying his wrists. Another man was arrested for spitting near the feet of a policeman.

In one bizarre incident, an officer confiscated a package of bottled water that an individual was carrying at the time of his arrest and then proceeded to distribute the bottles up and down the police line.

A man with a broken foot, who was walking on crutches, was pushed down by police for obstructing the street. He was arrested a few minutes later, after he and several others sat down in a crosswalk in defiance of orders to step onto the sidewalk.

By 6 a.m., everyone who remained at 101 Market St. had been arrested and all of their belongings confiscated; the sidewalk was clear.

Occupy SF began its 24 hour protest at 101 Market St. on Sept. 29. The camp remained until the first police raid on Nov. 20. Protesters subsequently reclaimed the site on Dec. 1.

As things stand, there is no Occupy SF presence at either of the original downtown locations. By 6:45 a.m., about 10 individuals -- those who'd evaded arrest -- had set up a small protest site, complete with signs and information table, at 532 Market St., in front of the offices of E Trade Financial.

In the past week, Occupy protest sites have also popped up at City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and at the Bank of America at 501 Castro St. Occupy SF State is the only protest camp, complete with tents, still in place today in the city today.

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