Mayor, police chief spoke about 'Occupy SF'

October 27, 2011 6:36:05 PM PDT
In San Francisco, "Occupy" demonstrators are waiting to see if they'll face eviction like "Occupy Oakland" protesters did on Tuesday morning. At City Hall, Interim Mayor Ed Lee and Police Chief Greg Suhr spoke to ABC7 on what appears to a very fluid situation.

The mayor said he is taking it step by step, he wants the protesters to clean up the camp, and remove the tents voluntarily. He says he wants to achieve it now through dialogue and not by, as he says, "by busting heads." He also said the big police mobilization that took place Wednesday night was because they were afraid that troublemakers from Oakland would come over here.

"It looked like from videos we saw on the news accounts there were some very angry people as to what occurred in Oakland and we're trying to prevent that here in San Francisco," said Lee.

Lee was talking about the hundreds of officers in riot gear mobilized at their swat facility on Potrero Hill during the night. Everyone thought that police were going to make their move sometime during the night or early morning hours. At the encampment, there were crowd estimates of between 500 to 1,000 or more people -- all of them waiting anxiously for the show of force.

"My colleagues and I are also here because we don't want what happened in Oakland to happen here tonight," said San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu.

At least five supervisors showed up to voice their support, hoping their presence would keep police at bay, but the officers were never sent in. When police command decided not to go in the camp, many of the officers were moved instead to Treasure Island where they conducted drills. Protesters claimed victory, believing it was their sheer force that scared police away.

"It tells us that not only do we have the right to be here, but that we're also able to defend our right to be here," said Occupy SF protester Forrest Schmidt.

The mayor and chief say the protesters are still violating city codes by keeping the tents up and there are health concerns in the camp. They want occupiers to voluntarily clean up the site, but if they don't, force is still an option.

"If we believe we could go into the camp safely, if we believe that we could go in there and support the agencies doing the cleanup without having to go past a measured response, we would do that," said Suhr.

Lee believes some of the union leaders who were at the San Francisco protest Wednesday night, may in fact become intermediaries with the occupiers of Justin Herman Plaza.

"The mayor has asked his department heads to go through. It's a balanced approach. He doesn't want to overreact. He wants to make sure that city and staff are going through and making sure that anyone who is there, who needs certain services, or shelter, gets it," said Mayor Ed Lee's spokesperson Christine Falvey.

The fire marshal came through on Thursday morning looking for anyone using propane or an open flame. He said everything looked fine. The health department was there too, watching over the arrival of Porta-Potties, which are being paid for by the Answer Coalition, not by the city.

"The city has been promising them all along and when they didn't provide them, they attacked us in the media for not having toilets," said Forrest Schmidt of Occupy SF.

Protesters have no plans to leave and said they picked up more support overnight.


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