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The San Francisco Chronicle

SF Police Raid Occupy Camp, Arrest 70

Will Kane

Crews from the Department of Public Works clean up Justin Herman Plaza after police cleared out the Occupy encampment in an early morning raid in San Francisco, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. (Photo: Paul Chinn / The Chronicle)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Police raided the Occupy SF camp early today, arresting 70 campers and protesters at Justin Herman Plaza and clearing out the 2-month-old encampment.

Officers, sheriff's deputies, firefighters and public works crews converged on the camp at the foot of Market Street at about 1 a.m. and gave protesters five minutes to clear out, said Officer Albie Esparza, a San Francisco police spokesman.

Most did, but 30 Occupiers did not, and another 40 were arrested when they blocked Market Street in protest, Esparza said.

The 70 were arrested on suspicion of illegal lodging and camping in a public park, Esparza said.

Two were arrested for felony assault on a police officer after they threw a metal chair at him, hitting him in his face shield and causing minor injuries that did not require hospitalization, Esparza said.

Kristopher Sullivan, 31, a camper, said most of the Occupiers didn't have time to retrieve their personal belongings, and police and protesters clashed for a bit. He pledged to reoccupy the camp.

Public works crews worked in the frigid air before dawn this morning, power-washing the park while officers with riot helmets looked on. About two dozen protesters stood on the plaza, watching.

Police Chief Greg Suhr said talks with the camp residents had broken down, forcing police to move in. He said a new crew of campers had taken over the plaza, and that the people with whom officials had been working with were no longer there.

"We weren't getting our e-mails returned," Suhr said.

The chief added, "Most of the people in this neighborhood are part of the 99 percent, and they needed some relief. So this part of the 99 percent removed that part of the 99 percent to give the other part of the 99 percent some relief."

The police raid followed an incident Thursday in which officers tried to erect barricades around the camp, calling it a safety measure. Police retreated when camp residents loudly objected, and officers removed most of the barricades.

Police officials said at the time that the reaction was an indication of the camp's volatility.

The city had offered to let Occupy take over an old school site on Mission Street near 16th Street, and many of those living in Justin Herman expressed interest. However, the camp could not reach the near-unanimous agreement required under Occupy protocols.

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