About 70 Occupy SF protesters were arrested after San Francisco police raided the encampment at Justin Herman Plaza early Wednesday.
Police in riot gear hauled away more than 100 tents after protesters were told to clear the plaza just after 1 a.m. Most of the protesters complied, San Francisco police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said. The 70 arrests were for overnight lodging and camping in a public park, which are park code violations, Esparza said.
Scroll down for video of the raid.
Two protesters were arrested on suspicion of felony assault on a police officer. The suspects hurled a metal chair at a cop wearing a helmet, breaking the shield protecting his face, Esparza said. The cop was not injured.
The raid, however, was mostly peaceful, Esparza said.
Hours after the raid, cops formed a line to block protesters from re-entering the space. Meanwhile, city workers power-washed the area where folks have been camping since October.
“This area was declared a public health hazard,” San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr told reporters. “It needs to be rehabilitated.”
Around 6 a.m., a small group of protesters huddled in front of the shuttered encampment, talking on their cellphones, grumbling, waiting. Some protesters hung out at the Subway and Noah's Bagels on Market Street. A news crew reported that a restaurant had its patio chairs stolen and taken to the opposite side of the plaza.
Occupy SF protesters said on its website that “bicycles, books from the library, tents and people's belongings were thrown directly into trash crusher trucks.”
“Many occupiers were trying to leave the area and were arrested anyway,” they said.
Esparza said campers can retrieve their property from the Department of Public Works facility.
“Anything that was identified as property was tagged and stored,” the police spokesman said.
Protesters were given roughly five to 10 minutes to clear out their belongings, Esparza said.
Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement that he “fully” supports the movement. But he said he made it clear that camping at Justin Herman Plaza is “not a sustainable or safe environment.”
Lee said he offered to move the camp to a site in the Mission district.
“The City made a site available to the group, but unfortunately communications with the liaison team designated by Occupy SF deteriorated to a point where it was clear that no progress could be made.”
Esparza said part of the reason for the raid was that protesters ceased communications with city officials recently, failing to return emails.
“The communications between the group and The City broke down,” Esparza said.
The Occupy SF protesters did regroup outside of the Federal Reserve during a noon protest. The demonstrators blocked Market Street while police stood at a distance. The group then marched down Market Street passed Justin Herman Plaza, where mounted police and officers in riot gear stopped anyone from re-entering the plaza. The group then marched through the Ferry Building.
Several demonstrators were detained at about 3 p.m. during a confrontation with police on Market Street.
The protesters said they would make plans to reoccupy Justin Herman Plaza later in the evening after a 5 p.m. meeting. The plaza will be shuttered for several days, according to Lee.