Protesters at Justin Herman plaza encampment, the former home of Occupy San Francisco, awoke to find police in riot gear circling the camp, and reported that officers gave them about five minutes to pick up their belongings and get out. About 30 were arrested during the raid, with another 30 or so arrested while blocking Market Street after the police action. Roughly 10 more were taken into custody during a second blockage of market.
The San Francisco Chronicle quoted a police spokesman as confirming that protesters were only given five minutes to leave the camp, and reported that police said the eviction came after a breakdown in communications between police and protesters.
Police chief Greg Suhr said talks with the camp residents had broken down, forcing police to move in. He said a new crew of campers had taken over the place, and the individuals that officials had been working with were no longer there.
"Negotiations had broken down," Suhr said. "We weren't getting our emails returned."
Suhr told reporters: "Most of the people in this neighborhood are part of the 99%, and they needed some relief. So this part of the 99% removed that part of the 99% to give the other part of the 99% some relief."
I don't know how the mayor and the police made the quantum leap from "We weren't getting our emails returned," to they had to do a surprise raid and eviction during the middle of the night. It never occurred to them to drive a couple of blocks to the park to speak to the new crew of campers?
In defense of the raid, Mayor Lee echoed the "In order to maintain public health" meme that has cropped up after other "Occupy" evictions. That already tired line becomes difficult to swallow after repeated reports from the occupiers themselves, similar to this one from a San Francisco man evicted from the park:
Jack Martin, of San Francisco, said he was trying to leave the plaza when he was zip-tied, taken to a police station, cited and released. Officers trashed his tent and personal belongings, he said.
"I lost everything I owned," said Martin, 51, as tears welled up in his eyes. "Everything I owned is gone. My medicine, my paper for my Social Security."
He yelled at officers: "I was trying to get out of your way!"
Asked what he planned to do next, Martin replied, "Occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy."
You can see what became of the protesters personal belongings in the video above, as police load tent frames, folding tables, bedding, computers and more into the garbage truck to be compacted.