Anti-war protesters in their 11th day of a round-the-clock vigil in front of Rep. Nancy Pelosi's Pacific Heights home were ordered by San Francisco police Thursday night to remove protest signs, banners and canopies that adorned what they called Camp Pelosi.
But protesters vowed to stay put until today's House vote on funding the war in Iraq. "We'll still sit here overnight and tomorrow until the vote,'' said Cynthia Papermaster, a member of Code Pink: Women for Peace, which organized the sit-in. Since March 10, demonstrators numbering from four to 30 have occupied the street corner in front of Pelosi's house, urging her to fight against continued funding of the war. As the protest has continued, the number of signs, displays and tents making up Camp Pelosi have increased. Before they were ordered to decamp, they had hoisted a banner between two trees, tapes signs to trees and the curbs and gutter, erected an awning to protect protesters from the sun, and hung a clothesline of children's clothing symbolizing Iraqi children who have been killed in the war. At about 6 p.m., said Papermaster, a San Francisco police lieutenant told the handful of protesters at the corner of Broadway and Normandie Terrace that they had received complaints from neighbors that they were blocking the sidewalk with signs and tents. Two officers assigned to make sure the protesters broke camp told them they needed to take everything away -- including their lawn chairs and votive candles arranged in a peace symbol. "You guys can stay here and do whatever you want but you can't have anything here,'' said an officer who refused to identify himself or say who ordered the breakdown of the camp. But after the protesters complained, the officer phoned a superior, who told him the demonstrators could keep the chairs. As the officers watched from their patrol car, four protesters took down a pink "Peace Now" sign from the gutter, other pink signs taped to trees, and picked up the votive candles at the edge of the sidewalk. "I just feel sad,'' said Susan Witka, a Code Pink member and Pelosi constituent. Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesman, said the speaker didn't object to the demonstration in front of her house but was concerned about her neighbors. "While she realizes their rights, and respects their feelings about the war, as someone who has voted against the war from the get-go, she would like the protesters to realize that she has neighbors,'' he said. The protesters said they back Pelosi but want to pressure her to aggressively fight against the war. "We support Nancy Pelosi," said Mark Zier, a protester who lives nearby. "We're her backbone.'' Four members of Code Pink attempting to send the same message by taking over Pelosi's office in Washington were arrested Tuesday. They included at least one Bay Area resident, Janine Bonaparte from Marin County, according to a Code Pink press release. "Pelosi is making political compromises that will compromise the lives of our children,'' Bonaparte was quoted as saying in the press release. "She does not represent me or the peace majority that elected (her) in November.'' Hammill said the Capitol police made the decision to arrest the protesters and that Pelosi's office did not make a complaint. E-mail Michael Cabanatuan at mcaban
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