70 arrested as police clear Occupy camp in San Francisco and dismantle around 100 tents
By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 12:04 PM
SAN FRANCISCO — Police gave protesters at San Francisco’s Occupy encampment five minutes to gather belongings before taking down about 100 tents and arresting 70 people as officers dismantled the camp in an overnight raid.
About two dozen officers in riot gear remained at daybreak Wednesday, down from more than 100 who carried out the raid. They blocked access to the former camp site as trash crews raked up paper and plastic bottles, removed chairs and other belongings that had accumulated there over the past two months, and pressure-washed the sidewalks.
A handful of protesters stood by, occasionally jeering at officers but otherwise heeding their instructions to stay back.
The raid began around 1 a.m., when dozens of police cars, fire engines and ambulances surrounded the campsite at Justin Herman Plaza and blocked off the area.
Police did not immediately release how many people were in the plaza at the time, but campers put the estimate at 150.
“Most of the protesters went peacefully,” but one officer received minor injuries when two people threw a chair that cracked his face shield, said officer Albie Esparza. 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.
Jack Martin of San Francisco said he was trying to leave the plaza when he was zip-tied, taken to a police station, cited and released. Officers trashed his tent and personal belongings, he said.
“Everything I owned is gone,” said Martin, 51, as tears welled up in his eyes. “My medicine, my paper for my Social Security.”
He yelled at a line of officers blocking the plaza: “I was trying to get out of your way!”
Martin said he lost his job as a building manager and had moved into a hostel until about five weeks ago, when he ran out of money. Asked what he planned to do next, he replied, “Occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy.”
Richard Kriedler with Occupy SF said some protesters were injured, but he didn’t have the details.