The Department of Public Works cleared out a section of Justin Herman Plaza early Saturday afternoon, revealing the Occupy San Francisco camp’s underbelly of soiled cardboard, trash and feces smeared on the grass.
On a cement barrier previously blocked by a tent, someone had spray painted, “Please don’t pee.”
City workers moved about 30 tents from a grassy strip along the outside of Justin Herman Plaza and cleaned out garbage from a section of the camp that Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru said was among the greatest health concerns at the plaza.
“This was definitely an area that was becoming a huge health hazard,” Nuru said.
The action came after The City on Thursday issued notices of violations, including 130 from the Department of Public Health. Mayor Ed Lee has also been pressured by surrounding businesses to rein in the protesters.
Shortly after noon Saturday, dozens of workers in blue jumpsuits, medical-type masks and protective gloves climbed out of white vans alongside the plaza and told Occupy campers they had to move their tents.
Most complied, though some yelled at the workers as they moved.
Alexandra Stevenson, 19, who has been at the camp for more than a month, tried to calm angry protesters. “I think this is just a wake-up call,” she said. “We need to be better-organized.”
The City also paid a visit to the smaller camp outside the Federal Reserve. Campers there had already packed most of their tents and belongings into three E-Z Ups, or standing shelters, in anticipation of a raid.
“All we can do is be prepared to protect our stuff,” said Janice Suess, 18.
When workers came, a group of about 30 protesters linked arms to block the stand-up shelters and after taking away garbage bins, the workers left, Suess said.
Occupy SF representatives released a statement Saturday saying protesters are making “a good faith effort to fulfill the complex maze of unachievable requirements the city has hurled at the camp.”
Campers moved tents from the bocce ball courts, removed signs hung from trees and lamp poles and no longer have a large dog contingency, according to the statement.
“We believe that these demands are merely a strategic harassment aimed at silencing the voice of this movement,” the statement read.
On Thursday, Nuru agreed that protesters have made progress in cleaning up, but Saturday said many areas of the camp are still not in compliance with The City’s guidelines.