Twenty people believed to be associated with the Black Bloc anarchist group that has launched several mini-riots in San Francisco have been unmasked following Saturday’s destructive demonstration in the Financial District, police said.
On Sunday, police released the identities and booking photos of 20 suspects who were detained following Saturday’s Market Street protest. The suspects were among about 100 demonstrators who identified themselves as Black Bloc anarchists as they marched from Justin Herman Plaza on The Embarcadero starting about 2:50 p.m., police said.
If the newly identified suspects are truly members of the masked clan, then vicious criminal street gangs these days include University of California students, an activist who studied biology with a specialization in neuroscience at Boston University, and a Los Angeles blogger who once eloquently wrote, “My dad called to tell me I’m a [f***-up].”
Most of the suspects also are visible members of the Occupy Wall Street movement who have taken part in other protests as well, such as those against college tuition hikes.
Laura Zelko, for example, is the UC Berkeley student who three years ago, along with dozens of others, barricaded herself in the school’s English Department building to protest tuition hikes. Zelko’s disciplinary hearing in 2010 garnered much media attention.
Edward Medina, 19, appeared in a newscast in Arizona last year as an Occupy Phoenix organizer.
Michael Thurman, 24, is a vocal advocate for military members who oppose and refuse to fight in Iraq.
And then there’s Paul Murufas, 21, of Long Beach, who is the author of the so-called “Worst Blog in LA” and who documented his experiences as a member of Occupy Los Angeles. In the blog, he wrote about leaving the encampment for home one morning to catch a few hours of sleep. He also wrote about how right his father was about guns.
“Turns out that guns keep you safe,” Murufas said, “and they are a great investment for any society interested in preventing fascism.”
The dozens of protesters Saturday wore masks and dark clothing, and police said they hurled projectiles as soon as officers arrived, striking one cop in the head. Vehicles and businesses were reportedly vandalized, and some protesters tossed road flares and pegged officers with bags containing both paint and rocks.
After the arrests, police said they seized numerous weapons from demonstrators, including hammers, an ice pick and illegal fireworks.
Police believe many of the 20 people arrested– nine of whom are women – are responsible for similar acts of vandalism that occurred in the Mission district Sept. 20 and 21. Those mini-riots were in response to an officer-involved shooting at 14th and Minna streets.
For their alleged part in the Financial District demonstration, the suspects have been booked on one or more charges that include inciting a riot, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on a peace officer.
Anarchists have struck The City multiple times this year, particularly the Mission. On April 30, a group of more than 100 broke off from what was supposed to be a peaceful Occupy San Francisco demonstration and smashed windows and paint-bombed vehicles and businesses. Last month, anarchists protesting gentrification scrawled “Die yuppie scum” and other obscenities around the neighborhood.
Meet the hell-raisers
Cicily Cooper, 23, Mt. Shasta
Occupy Oakland member who helped lead a movement last summer protesting AC Transit’s plan to increase fares and reduce service
Maria Lewis, 23, S.F.
Identified during a January interview with Democracy Now as Occupy Oakland member and undergraduate at UC Berkeley, who lambastes Oakland City Councilor Ignacio De La Fuente’s charge that Occupy had been engaging in “domestic terrorism”
Laura Zelko, 23, Oakland
Member of Wheeler 43, the group of students who seized UC Berkeley building in 2009 to protest tuition hikes; she was arrested again after a group broke into an S.F. State building in 2010
Andrea Abi-Karam, 23, Oakland
Identified on social networking sites as a neuroscience major from Boston University who reportedly recently moved to Bay Area and participated in the 20th anniversary Critical Mass ride in S.F.
Lauren Smith, 30, Concord
Occupy Oakland member was quoted in S.F. Chronicle as defending Black Bloc, claiming, “that this [Occupy] is a fluid group, but we’re really just the same group of people with different tactics on different days”
Benjamin Mabie, 19, Newark
UC Santa Cruz student and Occupier; as student at James Logan High School last year, he reportedly won college scholarships for earning high marks
Edward Medina, 19, unknown
When Occupy Phoenix formed in October of last year, Medina was identified during an interview with a local television station as an organizer, saying, “We would like it to remain as peaceful as possible”
Paul Murufas, 23, Long Beach
Writer of “The Worst Blog in LA”; self-proclaimed dishwasher, telemarketer and drug addict says guns are “a great investment for any society interested in preventing fascism”