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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mayor Ed Lee Tries to Appease Occupy SF Protesters, Cops

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2011 at 5:30 PM

  • Ellen Huet
After five people were arrested Sunday at Justin Herman Plaza, Occupy SF protesters gathered at City Hall Tuesday afternoon to tell Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors to just leave them alone.

Tuesday's affair was nothing quite like what Rome experienced over the weekend, rather it was a small group of about 60 people who filled the Board chambers to get some answers.

It was Supervisor Jane Kim who used mayoral question time to ask Lee how they could balance public health and First Amendment rights in the city given the "long-term nature" of this national protest, which started in New York City four weeks ago. Lee finally answered, stating -- twice -- that he "fully supports the spirit of the protest," and insisted that city laws regulating sidewalks and streets did not prevent protester's rights to occupy peacefully.

"We stand with you in expressing anger and frustration at the so-called too-big-to-fail big institutions," he said to which a woman in the chambers shouted: "Then don't send the police in to destroy us!"

Lee, who ticked people off with his last-minute and abrupt entrance into the mayor's race this summer, advocated for better communication between city cops and demonstrators to keep this protest safe and legal. "A balance is achievable," Lee said.

Outside City Hall, protesters stirred, explaining why they were upset about the recent police raids of the OccupySF camp on Market Street, which occurred last week after city officials and police swept through the street, forcing protesters to breakdown their tents.

Ken Garing, a San Francisco resident who had popped into the Occupy camp only "a few times," said as far as he can tell, city laws regulating sidewalks are making it nearly impossible for the group to organize.

"If not there, then where?" he said. "We are the city. Sending police to the camp late at night is not a good-faith gesture."

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Ellen Huet


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