Police stormed into the Occupy SF camp early this morning, arresting more than 70 protesters and breaking down the encampment on Justin Herman Plaza.
Media outlets are reporting that police and fire crews circled the camp at about 1 a.m., giving protesters five minutes to pack up and go. Many campers left, however a group remained at the camp and were later arrested when they blocked Market Street, police told reporters.
About 70 people were arrested on suspicion of illegal camping, and two more were arrested on suspicion of assault after they threw a metal chair at a police officer.
Public Works crews spent the morning power washing the plaza, where protesters had been camped out for more than two months. Meanwhile, Occupy SF has agreed to meet at noon today to discuss plans for a general strike.
The city had offered to relocate the camp to a less visible spot in the Mission District, but protesters refused to leave, saying they wanted to be next to the big banks they were protesting.
Mayor Ed Lee issued the following statement to the press:
From the beginning of the current Occupy SF encampment, I have made it clear to protesters that overnight camping at Justin Herman Plaza and on Market Street is not a sustainable or safe environment for protesters, the general public or City staff. In San Francisco, we took a measured and balanced approach and negotiated with Occupy leadership in good faith to disassemble the camp at Justin Herman Plaza. The City made a site available to the group, but unfortunately, communication with the liaison team designated by Occupy SF deteriorated to a point where it was clear that no progress could be made.We'll keep you posted as the drama unfolds. Check back later.