If there was any lingering doubt that city officials have had enough of Occupy SF’s downtown encampment, it was erased early Sunday with another police raid.
Officers removed protesters from in front of the Federal Reserve Bank building, citing a state law on “illegal lodging.” Police arrested 55 during the 4 a.m. action at 101 Market St., after repeatedly warning them about violating the law, spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.
Illegal lodging is defined in California penal code as misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Someone “who lodges in any building, structure, vehicle or place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or person entitled to the possession or in control of it” can be arrested.
Lauren Phillips, 24, was arrested early Sunday, but was one of about 30 protesters who had returned to the site by the afternoon.
“Doesn’t the First Amendment of the Constitution supersede all of that?” Phillips asked. “And that’s exactly what we’re here demonstrating for, protecting the people.”
Phillips said there had been no tents or structures overnight, and that campers were rustled from their sleeping bags, with officers outnumbering demonstrators by about two to one.
“It doesn’t get much more peacefully assembled than a bunch of people cuddled up on the sidewalk,” she said.
Phillips, who has been outside the bank building for nearly three months, said she would keep supporting the movement, but was unsure whether she would spend another night at the site.
Police cleared out the main Occupy SF camp at Justin Herman Plaza early Wednesday. Police Chief Greg Suhr cited the sit-lie ordinance when asked later that evening at the Police Commission whether protesters could demonstrate in front of the Federal Reserve. The law prohibits sitting or lying on public sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Police were handing written warnings about the sit-lie law to demonstrators outside the Federal Reserve, but by Thursday they also were touting the “illegal lodging” law as a possible enforcement mechanism.
“If they’re in violation of any state or municipal laws, we can enforce them,” Esparza said Thursday. “We are going to monitor the situation, and it’s at our discretion whether we enforce the state or municipal laws. But we can enforce them, should we choose to.”
During Sunday’s arrests, Esparza said, some police officers were spit on and one officer was pushed by demonstrators, but no one — demonstrators or police — was injured.
55: Demonstrators arrested early Sunday outside the Federal Reserve
85: Approximate number arrested in Wednesday’s Justin Herman Plaza raid
$950,000: The City’s estimate of how much it has already spent on Occupy SF
$50,000: Estimated cost to repair Justin Herman Plaza
87: Number of days since Occupy SF movement began