Occupy SF protesters said on their website today that they believe a police raid on their encampment in San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza is imminent.
Demonstrators have been camping at the plaza at the foot of Market Street for several weeks, and the encampment had grown to about 200 tents as of the city’s last count on Wednesday.
The size of the encampment, as well as deteriorating sanitary conditions there, led Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials to meet with members of Occupy SF on Wednesday to discuss their concerns.
Upon leaving the meeting, Lee said he would give the protesters “the immediate opportunity to demonstrate” that they could meet the city’s demands to clean up the encampment “and then we’ll see what happens.”
In a post on the group’s website, www.occupysf.com, campers said those comments “implied that a raid was likely.”
On its Twitter feed, the group posted a voicemail that it said was from the secretary for Mohammed Nuru, director of the Department of Public Works.
The speaker on the voicemail said the city was “going to declare the whole area a health disaster, and everybody’s going to have to go.”
DPW spokeswoman Gloria Chan said the Department of Public Health declared the encampment a public health nuisance today, and that DPW officials had again told them they were in violation of city regulations.
She said she had no other information about any potential police action.
Police spokesman Sgt. Mike Andraychak said he is not aware of any imminent action, saying “there’s nothing new on our end.”
On its website, Occupy SF also cited the police action early Wednesday morning to dismantle 15 tents that had been set up as an ancillary camp along the first block of Market Street as a sign that there will be a raid at the main camp soon.
Police said Wednesday those tents had to be removed to maintain an adequate amount of walking space on the sidewalk.
The protesters are calling for community members to come out and support Occupy SF, which was set to undergo an inspection by the city’s Department of Public Health at 4 p.m. A news conference is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Justin Herman Plaza.
The post on the Occupy SF website today noted that the last time the group believed a raid was imminent was in the early morning hours of Oct. 27, when several city officials joined a large crowd in support of the movement.
Supervisor and then-mayoral candidate John Avalos was one of the city officials who came to the camp and said afterward that he thought the large show of support helped deter police from raiding the camp.
The group agreed, saying in the post on its website today that “the SF police backed off the last planned raid after a massive show of community support and preparation for nonviolent direct action resistance.
The post said, “We need to show that the communities of the 99 percent will support the occupations (and) stand against the rule of the 1 percent.”
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News