Old Occupy camp dismantled in San Francisco
The final vestige of the past year's Occupy encampments in San Francisco was swept off the street late Wednesday night in a speedy police raid that had the mostly homeless denizens shooed off or arrested, and their tents trucked away, before reinforcing activists could arrive to effectively protest.
The clearance began at 11:35 p.m. when about 70 police officers suddenly trotted up in formation and surrounded the blocklong stretch of more than two dozen campers on Market Street in front of the Federal Reserve Building.
Officers told the group it was illegally lodging on the sidewalk according to state law, and anyone who didn't leave would be arrested. At least five people, including a man in a wheelchair, departed immediately while two others took up bullhorns and began yelling at the police.
"Fascist pigs! I am a protester!" cried the loudest bullhorn user, Debra Lujan, 34.
Within minutes, the two on bullhorns and the rest of those who didn't leave - about 20 - were being handcuffed with plastic wrist ties and put in line for police vans. They were all driven away within an hour.
City Department of Public Works crews using 10 trucks had the camp disassembled and the sidewalk washed down by 1:15 a.m.
"It went pretty smoothly," said Officer Albie Esparza. "From what I understand, what is mostly here is homeless people, and we just need the sidewalk to be clear again."
Esparza said that in addition to the illegal lodging issue, the walkway had to be freed up because construction crews need to repair water leaks that are seeping into the basement of the Federal Reserve Building. He said those arrested would most likely be cited and released.
Lujan complained of shortness of breath as she was being arrested, the officer noted, but that was the extent of anything resembling injuries in the operation.
"This is what my taxes pay for - for this?" a 20-year-old who gave his name as Jean-Nathan Ellis Allday, said as he stood handcuffed. "They gave us warnings for the past week, but it's public space here. This is nuts."
The camp had been in front of the Federal Reserve since last fall, but in recent months had become more of a homeless camp than a center of protest against economic inequities, according to police, neighbors and several participants. Police visited the camp daily over the past week to warn occupants that they were illegally on the sidewalk and should leave.
Campers openly smoked pot and drank alcohol during the day, which Esparza noted violated a set of camping conditions handed out by some Occupy organizers over the past year. The Federal Reserve has had a chain link fence up for nearly a year to keep the group away from the doorways, which workers said had been fouled with feces and urine, and residents have frequently complained about the overall mess.
Read more: Old Occupy camp dismantled on Market Street - SFGate
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