Campers at the Occupy SF tent city are preparing to mount their last stand after city officials set a deadline of noon today to evacuate Justin Herman Plaza.
During a meeting Wednesday with representatives of the camp, Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru gave them the news.
“I have to tell you that time is short, and we don’t want tents on this property as of noon tomorrow,” Nuru said.
But after Nuru issued his ultimatum, some campers seemed to be digging in their heels and preparing for forcible removal, which many feel is imminent.
“Most people are pretty much assuming [a raid] is coming,” said James Morry, who has been camping with Occupy SF for a month.
The movement has faced multiple police and governmental actions on camps near The Embarcadero and Financial District since the start of its activities in San Francisco on Sept. 17. But until this week, officials have stopped short of providing a specific date for dismantling the Justin Herman Plaza camp, the group’s largest and most visible establishment so far.
A planned police raid in October was called off after several city supervisors and mayoral candidates came out to face police alongside the occupiers.
But in recent weeks, city officials have brought up various grievances with the camp, including reports of criminal activity, public health hazards posed by human waste and mounting trash, and an excessive number of tents, which now shelter about 300 people nightly.
The City offered an alternative site at an abandoned school in the Mission district Tuesday, but the protest group’s general assembly did not reach a consensus agreement on the location. The general assembly was scheduled to again consider The City’s latest demands and the alternative site Wednesday night.
Some campers have said the site would be too isolated from San Francisco’s banking and corporate center, which is the target of their opposition. Others took the offer of the new site as an invitation to occupy both spaces, but Nuru said that was never the intent.
“We are not going to have two encampments,” Nuru told frustrated campers Wednesday morning. “The City will not support two.”
Nuru suggested that the decision on what to do next is in the hands of the occupiers, but one thing is sure — their days at Justin Herman Plaza are numbered.