Occupy SF Protesters Arrested After Swarming Downtown Bank Lobby

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Police arrested dozens of Occupy SF protesters who stormed a Bank of America branch on California Street in San Francisco during a march Wednesday afternoon, and refused to leave.

Officer Albie Esparza told the Associated press that 95 were arrested. Authorities said they were taken to jail, cited and released.

At about 2:15 p.m., at least 100 protesters rushed into the branch on California Street near Davis Street, taking it over. They stood inside the branch chanting, “We are the 99 percent.”

At about 2:40 p.m., police ordered the protesters, some of whom had been standing on desks in the bank, to disperse.

Dozens of police officers stood outside the branch, and riot police arrived to secure the building.

Police scuffled with protesters, shoving them out of the way to access the building’s doorway. Some people had been trying to exit the bank and others were blocking the officers’ path as they tried to enter.

Many of the protesters left the bank, but about 30 of them remained inside and erected a tent in the middle of the floor.

Shortly before 4 p.m., riot-clad officers began putting plastic cuffs on those who refused to leave.

A sheriff’s bus had pulled up nearby, and police were loading protesters in into the bus. The crowd outside cheered as they brought the protesters out one by one.

Wednesday’s “ReFund Public Education March” was organized in part to protest the cancellation of the UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco this week.

The meeting was cancelled because of fears that violent protests would occur, according to the regents.

“The 1 percent on the Board of Regents cancelled their meeting because we demanded they do the people’s business,” read a statement posted on the Occupy SF website about the march.

“So now we’re going to where they do Wall Street’s business,” the statement read.

Occupy SF marchers block Battery St. and Pacific Ave. in San Francisco to protest cuts to public education, November 16, 2011. (Dan McMenamin/Bay City News)

Occupy SF marchers block Battery St. and Pacific Ave. in San Francisco to protest cuts to public education, November 16, 2011. (Dan McMenamin/Bay City News)

Around 1:30 p.m., the protesters sat down on Battery Street between Pacific Avenue and Broadway, blocking traffic.

Some protesters chanted, “Education must be free. No cuts, no fees.”

University of California at Berkeley graduate student Elise Youn said one of the aims of the march is to “make the connection” between the business interests of certain UC Regents and their work on the board.

The marchers were focusing on three regents: Richard Blum, chair of Blum Capital Partners; George Marcus, who heads a national commercial real estate brokerage firm; and Monica Lozano, who is a Bank of America board member.

Marchers included a number of students and members of public-sector unions.

Earlier Wednesday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee met at City Hall with members of  Occupy SF, hours after an early-morning police action that led to the arrest of seven people near the encampment.

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


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