Police Clear Occupy Encampment in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO -- About two dozen police officers remained at the scene early Wednesday morning of the Occupy encampment in San Francisco, hours after authorities kicked out the protesters, took down about 100 tents and arrested 70 people as the camp was dismantled.
Police lined up to block access on Market Street while trash crews rake up paper and plastic bottles and remove chairs and other belongings that accumulated at the camp over the past two months.
Dozens of police cars, fire engines and ambulances surrounded the campsite at Justin Herman Plaza and blocked off the area during the raid. The effort involved more than 100 officers and began shortly after 1 a.m., said officer Albie Esparza. Police gave campers a few minutes warning to pack up and leave and then swept in, he said.
Police did not immediately have an estimate of how many people were in the plaza at the time.
"Most of the protesters went peacefully," but one officer received minor injuries when two people threw a chair that cracked his face shield, Esparza said. They were arrested on suspicion of felony assault. Dozens of others were arrested for illegal lodging in the plaza and failure to disperse. In all, 70 people were taken into custody.
Kris Sullivan, 31, from Akron, Ohio, said many campers were sleeping and were taken by surprise. Sullivan, who said he had been at the camp for about two months, got his tent out but lost his pillow, mattress, blanket and another tent.
"They didn't even give much time for anyone to get out. They handled it really badly. They could have given us a warning or some sort of eviction notice," he said.
Radio reports said protesters could be heard chanting as they were taken away on a bus.
Police remained at the site after protesters briefly blocked a major thoroughfare near the site. Work crews were busy clearing debris form the tent city, which was set up in mid-October to protest bank bailouts and economic injustice.
Gene Doherty, 47, an Occupy protester who was not at the site during the raid but watched it on a live streaming website, said the Occupy protesters planned a noon rally at the site and still had several "mobile occupations" throughout the city.
"We will come back and reoccupy," Doherty said. "A large segment of our community has no other options. They don't have a home to go back to; this was their home."
Protesters will continue to "send a message that this is our right to protest, our right to assemble, and to talk about the economic injustices in the world," he said.