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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mayor Ed Lee, Police Say Feds Didn't Order Them to Evict Occupy SF

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge Officials maintain the decision to evict Occupiers was from City Hall, not Washington.
  • Officials maintain the decision to evict Occupiers was from City Hall, not Washington.

Both Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco police deny that they received marching orders from any federal agency to evict Occupy SF protesters and arrest resisters at Justin Herman Plaza on Dec. 7.

SF Weekly requested records of correspondence with any federal agency regarding the eviction of Occupy protesters camped out in the plaza or along Market Street. Yet both the mayor and police insist that no such records exist.

Lee's spokesman, Francis Tsang, also confirmed that the feds never verbally ordered the city to coordinate the eviction. Instead, Mayor Lee spoke to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed about how those two cities had been handling their respective Occupy protesters. The conversation occurred at the start of the protest, when the officials were attending Mayor Lee For Mayor campaign events in the city earlier this fall.

"It sounds like a conspiracy theory," Tsang told SF Weekly of the

rumors of federal involvement in snuffing out the anti-big-bank encampments. Mayor Lee talked to the two mayors "not about evictions, but

how they were handling these protests."

Tsang reiterated that the only coordination for the eviction was between the Mayor's Office, police, and the Sheriff's Department. "The reason that the camp was peacefully and orderly ended was for public

health and public safety reasons and to return the public plaza to the

public for their use," he wrote in an e-mail.

But there were other pressures on the city to act. Earlier this week, we wrote that Boston Properties, the landlords of Embarcadero Center, had threatened to sue the city for allegedly subverting local parks and health code laws to allow the protesters to sully Justin Herman Plaza and vandalize the center's property.

Federal coordination to evict the Occupy protests in U.S. cities has rumbled about in the press, while the CIA denied refused to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request, which would allow a Washington, D.C., nonprofit access to documents to see if the government had in fact meddled in the Occupy movement.

The Partnership for Civil Justice criticized the CIA, saying the agency wasn't exactly saying it had no records, but rather suggesting it would not look for them. In contrast, San Francisco officials say they have looked -- and no such documents exist.

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Lauren Smiley


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