San Francisco Mayor Lee Addresses ‘Occupy’ Encampment

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The “Occupy SF” protests have cost San Francisco more than $100,000 since they started last month, Mayor Ed Lee said Tuesday.

Lee addressed “Occupy SF” at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, saying although costs to oversee the protests are rising with no end in sight, he supports the spirit of the movement and will support their right to peacefully assemble as long as city laws are followed, particularly those banning camping in city parks.

Lee talked about the demonstrators during his monthly mandated appearance to answer questions from supervisors.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

About 100 protesters came to City Hall for the meeting Tuesday afternoon, many of them marching from Justin Herman Plaza, where the demonstrations have been based since late September in solidarity with anti-Wall Street rallies in New York City.

PHOTOS: Bay Area ‘Occupy’ Protests

Protesters marched to City Hall in response to an incident Sunday night in which police arrested five protesters who were part of a group that had set up tents in the plaza.

Citing the city law banning encampment there, police ordered the protesters to remove the tents and when they refused, officers removed them themselves and took them away in city vehicles.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

Four of the protesters were subsequently arrested for being in the roadway illegally and resisting arrest while the fifth was arrested for battery on a police officer. All five were cited and released, police said.

Lee said at Tuesday’s board meeting, “from the very beginning, I’ve supported the spirit of ‘Occupy SF’” but said he can’t allow “pitching tents and lighting fires in public parks meant for use by everybody.”

Talking over occasional heckling from members of the crowd, he said, “I think a balance is achievable.”

Pleas for any condemnation of the recent police actions fell on deaf ears, despite earlier statements of general support from Lee and other supervisors.

“Longstanding laws on the books that help keep our streets and sidewalks safe do not interfere with the right to peacefully protest and occupy space,” Lee said.

Speaking to reporters following his appearance in board chambers, Lee expanded on the issues the city is facing with the protesters.

“Part of the challenge is there are different leaders at different times,” so the Police Department has distributed flyers outlining the relevant laws to abide by, including a ban on wood, propane or other flammable objects, he said.

He said he hoped that confrontations like the one Sunday will be avoided moving forward and that police will give demonstrators fair warning before taking action on encampments that might be set up.

Lee said the city is also facing increasing costs due to the occupation, with more than $100,000 already spent on police overtime, health inspections and cleanups by the Department of Public Works.

In a letter on Monday, Police Chief Greg Suhr laid out guidelines for how the Market Street encampment would be allowed to continue. Among other conditions, Suhr barred the demonstrators from lighting camp fires or pitching tarps.

Some San Francisco supervisors, including John Avalos and board president David Chiu, have expressed support for the Occupy SF protesters.

In a statement released after Sunday’s arrests, Chiu said, “As long as the Occupy SF protesters are obeying the law, the city should respect their rights of peaceful assembly and free speech.”

Supervisor Jane Kim, who asked the question about Occupy SF to the mayor, was one of several supervisors who addressed the movement later on at Tuesday’s meeting.

Kim said she is in support of the protests and hasn’t gotten one complaint from city residents or businesses about them, but acknowledged the need to maintain public safety in the plaza.

“This is something we haven’t really seen before … and there will be hits and misses on both sides,” she said.

Dozens of protesters spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Nancy Keyler, a 68-year-old Mission District resident who has participated in the protests, said she opposed the removal of the encampments.

“They need those tents,” especially in inclement weather, Keyler said.

Peter Manchini called the Occupy movements “the most important progressive movement in the past two generations” and said “if San Francisco wants to be taken seriously as a progressive city,” it should stand fully behind the protests.

The protesters are citing the economic disparity between the richest 1 percent and the other 99 percent, and are calling for increased regulation of banks and Wall Street investment firms, among other demands.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS SF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Robert Mill

    How are you going to protest when everything is privatized and owned by others so you can’t even protest? If you ban camping at public parks, there’s no other way to protest. Some rules are just plain stupid and obviously made to be broken. Even when people peacefully protest, the governments have a problem with that. It’s time to take aggressive action, or else the people won’t get what they’re asking the governments for.

  • Borian

    These disgraceful mobs of slackers are just a prop for the left-wing media to dupe the idiots of America into action for Obama. Outside of a political stunt, it is an exercise of humans degenerating into thoughless animals.

  • Jerry Frey

    An unscripted reality show, Occupy America is a populist movement in the tradtion of the nineteenth century Cross of Gold. Speculation (George Soros; hedge funds), long or short, oil futures, de-regulation, neo-liberalism, benefits the 1 percent connected class with no social benefit. Banks once organized and allocated capital in order to produce wealth, economic expansion, that benefited the many rather than the few. Globalists know no national loyalty and are detached from their nations.

    Get the $oney out of politics. Campaign contributions are the nexus of corruption in the capitol. Reduce the amount of money involved in re-election, which really is the name of the game, by promulgating free air time during elections. Keep the current system for primaries.

    History repeats itself: no leadership, no vision, chickens have come home to roost.. Selfishness.

    NeilSalemMA Why does all this remind me of France in the 1780s and 1790s?

    Our system of free enterprise is a corrupt oligarchy of the wealthy that drives more and more middle class Americans into poverty, even while the very rich get much richer. As happened over 200 years ago in France, the people will eventually rise up.

  • Jawal

    The great thing about San Fran is that you have a large population of dirty, pot smoking bums and kids wanting to ‘cut their teeth’ in the leftist lifestyle already living in tents, sleeping bags and going doo-doo on the streets.

  • Chris W

    Funny, I would say that a number of CEO’s behave like disgraceful slackers and thoughtless animals. Take Carly Fiorina for example. She left HP with $21 million in cash plus another $19 million in stock options after f’ing up the company and forcing 15000 layoffs. It’s events like this that Occupy is protesting. I don’t know why anyone still supports this raping of people’s livelihoods. Did you get a nice golden parachute at thousands of people’s expense like Carly did? Or do you feel that you might be in a position to someday? Just trying to understand your position.

  • Grappy Judd

    The San Francisco top One% pitch tents in the parks all the time and have open flames for their Soirees. The police attack the two canopies of the 99% Movement of the Occupy SF middle and working peoples demonstration. Right now in Civic Center and Union Square there are tents for the events of the elite taking up much of these parks, so why are people injured and arrested by the police at Justin Herman Plaza and not those of the One%! $$$$$$ I think is the answer and for whom the city government works. Down with the SF Machine one clique rule of 30 years!

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