Occupy protesters cleared out of SFSU camp

Mike Koozmin/The SF ExaminerNext year: Occupy SFSU protesters say they will keep protesting in some form after the school’s winter break ends.

Occupy SFSU protesters packed up and left campus early Thursday morning after repeated warnings from San Francisco State University that they would not be able to stay over the holiday break, university officials and Occupy members said.

Students upset about tuition increases and budget cuts to public higher education set up the encampment Dec. 1 on the plaza in front of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. About two dozen students and nonstudent activists remained at the site Wednesday, but Occupier Terence Yancey said most were planning to go home Friday for the holidays.

“We had decided to break down the camp over the break,” said Yancey, a junior philosophy major. “We wound up having to work on a deadline.”

Yancey said that at 12:15 a.m., the university ordered campers to pack up and leave. Most complied, he said, but about 10 protesters in two tents still remained just before 5 a.m. At that point, Yancey said, “50 police in riot gear showed up.”

Yancey said the remaining students left peacefully.

University spokeswoman Ellen Griffin said the order to leave came after several hours of negotiations between Occupy representatives and Associate Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell.

“We became increasingly concerned about our ability to maintain the health and safety of the camp,” Griffin said, adding that the campus would be closed over the break.

Griffin said it was too early to say whether the students would be allowed to rebuild their camp in January, but Yancey said Occupy SFSU would continue in some form.

“We’re happy with what we accomplished this semester,” he said. “We’re going to pick up where we left off next semester.”

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