Elsewhere: Occupy Wall Street West Plans Day Of Disruption, Activism In S.F. [SFist]
Protesters close Wells Fargo headquarters branch [Biz Times]
Occupy Wall Street West Trying Hard to Occupy the Financial District [Weekly]
Arrests start early for daylong Occupy SF protest [Chron]
Last update: 4:47 PM
Officials in San Francisco are warning residents of disruptions to their usual activities due to today’s Occupy Wall Street West demonstrations, planned for all day today.
Alert SF this morning sent a message to subscribers warning that “Occupy Wall Street West demonstrations will take place throughout the day in the Financial and South of Market Districts; culminating with a march from Justin Herman Plaza to the United Nations Plaza this evening.”
“The San Francisco Police and Sheriff’s Departments will be on-hand to ensure the event is peaceful.” SFPD chief Greg Suhr echoed Alert SF’s sentiments Wednesday, saying “we will facilitate … civil disobedience as long as it doesn’t cross the threshold and become criminal.”
“We will be patient, as we always are, but if we get to the point where they’re affecting the rights of others, we will make arrests as appropriate,” he said.
Occupy Wall Street West has posted a complete list of their actions planned for today here.
“Collectively,” they say on their site, “the actions will stop business as usual in the San Francisco Financial District and the Federal Courts that protect corporate interests.”
The actions began this morning with a “squid fry” outside the offices of Goldman Sachs at 555 California, a reference to Rolling Stone contrib Matt Taibbi’s description of Goldman Sachs as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.”
As of 7:49 AM, protesters have chained themselves to the entrance of Wells Fargo Bank’s SF corporate headquarters at 420 Montgomery St. near California Street, said protester Pete Woiwode.
“We are trying to shut down the bank,” Woiwode said.
Protesters had blocked entrances on all four sides of the Wells Fargo building earlier this morning and a large yellow banner was put up on a window of the building saying “We are unstoppable.”
A 45-year-old Berkeley man named Cheche, who did not want to give his last name, said he showed up outside the Wells Fargo building at about 6 AM today.
“We didn’t know what to expect from the cops, and they stayed neutral,” he said.
However, police in riot gear began to move in on the protesters shortly after 9 AM, 11 protesters were arrested on suspicion of trespassing on private property, police spokesman Sgt. Daryl Fong said.
Despite the nearly dozen arrests made, protesters were still blocking two of the four sides of the Wells Fargo building and about 50 people remained in front of the Bank of America as of noontime.
Multiple blocks of California Street and Montgomery Street were blocked for hours this morning because of the demonstrations and the ensuing response by police in riot gear.
Many of the streets had reopened and all the riot police had left the area, but Montgomery Street remained closed between California and Pine streets as of 11:45 a.m.
While some protesters began marching through the Financial District later in the morning, others pitched a tent and placed tables and chairs on Montgomery Street, but began picking up the gear shortly before noon.
In a related action, more than 100 people have gathered outside a federal courthouse in San Francisco this afternoon to call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn the legal doctrine of corporate personhood.
The “Occupy the Courts” event, one of more than 100 taking place across the country today, started around noon at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Seventh and Mission streets in San Francisco.
Abraham Entin, one of the organizers of the event, spoke to the assembled crowd about the proposed amendment, which the group plans to deliver to officials at the courthouse.
“Corporations work very hard to convince us that we cannot do without them and the products they produce,” Entin said. “They tell us they are too big to fail and that our survival is dependent on theirs.”
He said, “We are here not to protest but to proclaim a truth that should be evident even to the Supreme Court: corporations are not people, money is not speech.”
The “Occupy the Courts” events come a day before the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case.
The high court ruled in that case that the Constitution’s First Amendment prohibited the government from limiting spending by corporations for political purposes.
Entin said there are 135 “Occupy the Courts” events in 46 different cities throughout the U.S.
“We can do this, we can amend the constitution without Congress,” he said.
According to a press release sent by SFPD spokesperson Sgt. Michael Andraychak at 4:47 PM, “18 misdemeanor trespassing arrests were made this morning at the bank building on California / Leidesdorf. There were a total of 18 arrested for trespassing (blocking the doors to the bank building). Warnings were given as the protestors were blocking egress from then building and creating a fire hazard. The protestors refused to leave and were subsequently arrested.”
“One additional male was arrested for possessing a police officers baton,” says Andraychak. “The baton had been taken during an incident at California / Montgomery Streets between 1100am – 1200 noon. The baton was recovered. In that incident, protestors blocked the roadway and later left the area. No arrests were made in connection with the street closure.”
A large labor protest in support of workers at Hyatt hotels in the city is scheduled for 4:30 p.m., and there will be a 5 PM march from Justin Herman Plaza, where protesters camped out for about two months before being evicted on Dec. 7.
“The demonstrators have the potential to disrupt the evening commute along Market Street. Please consider alternate commuting routes,” Alert SF warned today.
The SFMTA cautions that “There will be unanticipated traffic and Muni delays throughout the day especially in the Financial District. Motorists should allow extra travel time.”
Zack Farmer, Dan McMenamin, and Sasha Lekach contributed to this report