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Despite Merchant Complaints, Mayor Lee Won’t Remove Occupy SF

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The Occupy San Francisco encampment at Justin Herman Plaza (CBS)

The Occupy San Francisco encampment at Justin Herman Plaza (CBS)

BarbaraTaylor_KCBS_0001r Barbara Taylor
Barbara Taylor is the long time San Francisco City Hall Bureau Chief...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS / CBS SF) — Despite a couple of recent arrests at the Occupy SF encampment and a slew of complaints from nearby Ferry Building merchants, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said Wednesday that there were no immediate plans to remove the encampment.

“I think that’s premature at this time,” he said.

However, the mayor added that the demonstrators, located in Justin Herman Plaza at the foot of Market Street, would have to cooperate with the city if they want to stay there.

“They’ve got to help us—if they’re going to exercise their First Amendment rights, they have to help us with the complaints we’re receiving,” he said. “That’s the only way to avoid confrontations.”

Managers at the Ferry Building sent two letters to Lee and the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday complaining that the city had not adequately protected local businesses from crimes allegedly committed by Occupy SF protestors.

The merchants blamed a rash of shoplifting, vandalism and muggings at the Embarcadero marketplace on Occupy campers they said had run amok.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

The merchants noted an increase in laptop and cell phone thefts from their customers since the Occupy encampment arrived, and have called for around the clock policing to bring things under control.

Related Article: Oakland Groups Fed Up With Occupy Appeal To Mayor Quan

The letters complain that demonstrators regularly strip down and bathe in the building’s public restrooms and have even broken into the building in order to tap into its electricity to provide power at the encampment.

Board of Supervisors Chairman David Chiu said he deplored the crime wave, attributing it to rogue elements within Occupy SF. He said the city was working to get Occupy organizers to police the encampment themselves.

“Our cities public safety and public health laws absolutely need to be followed, and if that is not happening, then we’re going to have some real issues,” Chiu said.

Chiu is one of several supervisors who have delivered speeches of support at the Occupy encampment, gestures Supervisor Sean Elsbernd dismissed as posturing that must end.

“The appropriate response is to get the root cause of the problem out of the way. It’s time for Occupy SF to move along,” Elsbernd said.

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

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