'Occupy SF' camp concerned about possible raid

October 27, 2011 2:11:04 AM PDT
To see the "Occupy San Francisco" encampment in Justin Herman Plaza on Wednesday, you'd never know about the turmoil in Oakland just one day earlier. The camp is a different world and a place that's facing a looming question: How long can it last?

It may not have the 'Good Housekeeping' seal of approval, but at the Occupy San Francisco encampment near the Ferry Building, the demonstrators are trying. The city has given them no choice.

"This morning, we were served with a notice saying 'you are subject to arrest,'" said Occupy protester Neil Maclean.

A letter signed by San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr advised residents that their presence at Justin Herman Plaza violated city and county health laws, animal laws and recreation and park laws -- basically, a roll call of city departments citing violations.

"I think the police department is trying to escalate the issue," said demonstrator Geoffrey Herwatt.

Mayor Ed Lee sounded that way too.

"We are prepared to have to enforce our laws because it's the sake of other people enjoying San Francisco, and their rights as well," Lee said.

It wouldn't be the first rousting of protesters in San Francisco: Last week, police in riot gear tore down tents and tarps and forcibly removed some protesters and arrested five of them, but clearly the group has been resilient.

Every day that goes by, it's been a moral victory according to demonstrator Forrest Schmidt, who has a home in San Francisco but no job.

"At this point, the encampment is complying with everything the city is complaining about," Schmidt said. "It's cleaner than the park outside City Hall."

According to rumors, City Hall may be the encampment's next destination. The protesters are talking about moving to Civic Center Plaza on Nov. 5.

"We would be right there, visible to the mayor and supervisors when they come to work every day," Maclean said.

That's not exactly in keeping with the next dispersion, which the mayor said he has already ordered.

"I don't want to give you a time frame, but I think it is appropriate to say within days," Lee said.

Whatever move the city does -- or doesn't -- make, the protesters have supporters in the Board of Supervisors. Yesterday, John Avalos introduced a resolution supporting the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement and its San Francisco counterpart.

Avalos could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Ryan, a media representative for the camp identified only by his first name, said that the group is expecting police to descend on the camp at Justin Herman Plaza at either midnight or 3 a.m.

"A lot of people are already walking around with gas masks and goggles," he said, noting that they were taking additional unspecified precautions.

Bay City News contributed to this report


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