'Occupy SF' protesters attend Supervisors' meeting

Occupy SF protesters attend Supervisors' meeting

October 18, 2011 6:59:55 PM PDT
"Occupy San Francisco" protesters filled the supervisors' chambers at City Hall Tuesday afternoon. They're demanding that city leaders protect their right to demonstrate at Justin Herman Plaza. The protesters have been occupying the plaza since the weekend and now Mayor Ed Lee spoke up about the situation.

This Tuesday happened to coincide with the mayor's question and answer session with the other supervisors and of course he was asked about Occupy SF.

About a hundred protesters showed up at City Hall and they filled the supervisors' chambers. Supervisor Jane Kim asked the mayor about his position on Occupy SF.

"We will protect and defend your right to protest and your freedom of speech, but that's not the same as pitching tents and lighting fires in public places and parks that are meant for use for everyone in our city," said Lee.

Lee said he wanted to keep the dialogue open between the city and the protesters and that police had made accommodations by bringing in port-a-potties and recycling bins.

"Excuse me sir, you're out of order," said Supervisor David Chiu to a man who spoke out of place.

But many here were still angry at police for dismantling their makeshift camp. On Sunday night, police began tearing down tents and tarps set up by the occupiers. This came after warning them earlier that park rules prohibited structures from being erected in the plaza and that no visitors were allowed after 10 p.m.

Protesters blocked streets around Justin Herman Plaza and surrounded public works trucks carrying the tarps and their possessions. Someone slashed the tire of one of the vehicles. Police forcibly removed those who occupied streets. Five were arrested. Police Chief Greg Suhr said his officer's actions were justified.

"There were weapons sufficient enough in that encampment to puncture the tire, windows were broken on the trucks. So I mean, there was a violence factor here that wasn't present at the 101 Market Street demonstration," said Suhr.

On Monday night, protesters expected police to repeat what happened Sunday night, but they were wrong. Tuesday morning, the tarps were still there. Suhr says police are working with the demonstrators, trying to come up with a solution.

"Negotiations, or meetings if you will, are ongoing facilitated by City Hall. We're participating in it. Park and Rec. is absolutely at the table," said Suhr.

Supervisor Eric Mar was supposed to introduce a resolution at the meeting supporting Occupy SF, but he withdrew it at the last minute because he wanted more dialogue and more feedback with the many groups in this movement. So he will present his resolution next week.