Occupy SF protesters vow to stay put in plaza

October 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Occupy San Francisco protesters are hoping for a night without any trouble with police, unlike the night before at Justin Herman Plaza.

Up until 11 p.m. Monday things remained quiet, althought protesters had already been in violation of curfew for one hour. City parks like Justin Herman Plaza are technically off-limits between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Protesters are anticipating police will make a move in the middle of the night.

Protesters with Occupy SF went on a short march down Market Street earlier in the day. They say more people have joined their movement after last night's encounter with police.

"I think that definitely when people see oppression and people standing up, more likely people are going to join," said protester Sabrina Holloway.

Officers tore down the Occupy SF encampment that popped up at Justin Herman Plaza over the weekend. A handful of protesters complained of injuries after a heated confrontation with officers. Police say protesters were physical with them as well.

"Officers were punched, attempted to be tackled and various liquids unknown to the officers were thrown on them," said Police Chief Greg Suhr.

Police arrested five people Sunday night, but protesters remain defiant. They came back Monday and set up camp again, ignoring city codes that prohibit structures, camping and overnight stays at city parks.

"We cannot be effective. We cannot exercise our rights to demonstrate and assemble in the way that we want to if we are not permitted to hold this space 24 hours a day, indefinitely," said protester Katt Hoban. "We're going to stand our ground. We have every intention of remaining in this space, possibly expanding to other spaces. We're a group of extremely committed individuals who are working together to create a more just society."

No word on what police plan to do on Monday night, but protesters say they're ready for anything.

"If you see what happened last night, it just makes Occupy SF that much more bigger when the police come in. So there's really no stopping it," said protester Jordan Towers.

Officers began clearing the encampment shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday night. So police have chosen not to repeat what they did before. Protesters told ABC7 that they are anticipating that officers will make a move sometime in the middle of the night.

Earlier on Monday, there was lots of anger directed towards the police after a confrontation with them on Sunday night. The police tore down their tarps and tents at about 10:30 p.m. The protesters then tried to block Public Works vans and trucks, which picked up their possessions. There were five people arrested on Sunday.

"I got thrown down on the ground, I can count four times that I remember," said Uriah George of Occupy SF.

Multiple Occupy SF protestors told similar stories from Sunday. They say they were kicked and pushed by police and at least one claims he went to the hospital.

"My experience is extraordinarily atypical. Violence is so far past rare here. This is most defiantly a peaceful situation," said Rish Rantz of Occupy SF.

"We had to physically remove them so we could get the trucks out. During this process, this was a slow movement for the Department of Public Works trucks; the Public Works trucks got their tires slashed," said San Francisco Police Department Lt. Kevin McNaughton.

Supervisor John Avalos said the police department is overreaching. He said, "We need to have a more flexible response; people are not going to go away. We need to figure out how to use public space to support the people who are doing Occupy SF, because they have a legitimate reason to be protesting."

Of those arrested overnight, four were arrested for blocking streets and one for battery on an officer.


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