OccupySF Protesters Retake Plaza, Police Back Down

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

Published on December 08, 2011 with 2 Comments

Several hundred OccupySF protesters defied a stay away order yesterday evening, retaking Justin Herman Plaza for several hours after being forcibly evicted from the location in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

December 8, 2011

Several hundred peaceful OccupySF protesters returned to Justin Herman Plaza yesterday evening to reclaim the space they had been evicted from in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Police moved in and ordered the protesters to leave the space, stating the plaza was closed for renovations. Most of the protesters complied with the SFPD order but a defiant group of 30 protesters remained following an SFPD clearing operation that resulted in at least one arrest. One protester, Chris Jones, was injured during the forcible removal action. He was treated at the scene by SFFD paramedics and taken to hospital.

A protester, Chris Jones, was injured during the police action. He was treated at the scene and taken to hospital.

A nervy standoff ensued with police surrounding the smaller group of protesters for three hours while the larger group of protesters surrounded the SFPD and held a General Assembly meeting.

“To the SFPD, you are surrounded. Put down your weapons. You are under arrest,” bellowed one protester over a public address system. Titters were heard across the plaza with several SFPD officers cracking smiles at the playfulness of the gesture.

The SFPD were outnumbered by at least 5-1.

The standoff ended when the group of corralled protesters agreed to be cited with a “certificate of release” on condition the protesters would not remain in the plaza or attempt to setup tents.

By 10 pm, most of the baton-wielding police clad in riot gear departed without incident while several motorcycle SFPD officers remained on the periphery of the plaza to ensure the protesters kept to the agreement of not setting up tents.

One protester attempted to defy the police order and erected a tent, but police quickly dismantled it.

While the plaza remains clear today, the Occupy protesters vowed to return.

More photos

"The sexiest cop in the world dance competition: open to any age, gender and race. Date and location still undecided."

SFPD motorcycle officers stand guard on the east side of Justin Herman Plaza.

A special unit of the SFPD armed with projectile launchers stood on west side of Justin Herman Plaza.

SFPD officers formed a blockade perimiter around the 30 protesters who refused to leave the plaza.

OccupySF protesters, in turn, formed a blockade perimeter around the SFPD.

An SFPD horse left its "luggage" on the plaza prompting warning signage that read: "SFPD mounties heath and safety violation right ahead."

Siblings, aged 12 and 9, brought gas masks to the protest.

Protesters flew a sign on top of a bus shelter that read: "Police, who do you protect? The 1% or the 99%?"

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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  • Daniele E.

    All this for a general assembly, which was clearly posted and the only reason i came—that, and to show my support/solidarity with the movement.

    If “The City” was fearful that new tents would be erected, clearly, why hire the masses of police officers for the task?

    It boggles the mind how the City can find the money for stunts like this, while important services are being slashed. If they don’t realize by now that the Occupy Movement is a peaceful one, then they’re not listening. But once again, it only highlights what we are dealing with: a system that is built on mistrust, an “us and them” mentality, woeful mismanagement of resources and lack of empathy.

    For my trouble—of showing up to discuss ideas—i got manhandled, cuffed for no good reason, and prior to being cuffed, prevented from leaving the scene after being there for 1 hour, as I’d planned.

    Way to go Mayor Lee. Your statement, released earlier that day clearly states that the City “embraces free speech and freedom to assemble like no other city”…and “the City will continue to respect and facilitate everyone’s fundamental right to peacefully assemble and protest.”

    Really? I’m not feelin’ the love, nor seeing the actions reflecting the sentiment. But this harkens back to once-upon-a-time, when a Mr Lee expressed the sentiment of not running for mayor…of choosing to be an interim mayor. So why be surprised?

    For that charade, that violation of rights that was last night, I can only shake my head at the unbelievable waste of money, and the intimidation that this City (and others around the country) seems to be relishing in regards to the rights of its people to come together to make a better world. Not the San Francisco I came here for. Saddened and disgusted, yes. But we won’t be deterred.

    Here’s a link the Mayor Lee’s Statement: http://dig.abclocal.go.com/kgo/PDF/Lee_OccupySF_Statement.pdf

    Cc: mayoredwinlee@sfgov.org

  • Daniele E.

    and I added this to my letter:
    and PS:
    You want to paint your negotiations w/ the Occupiers as a good faith, working-with-people example that was thwarted. But you don’t necessarily get to dictate our methods, and we don’t necessarily have to agree with your choice of “venue”.

    Now back to job-hunting.

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