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SF Occupy Protests Extend Into Evening, Building Taken Over

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A group of Occupy SF protesters took over the Cathedral Hill Hotel on January 20, 2012. (CBS)

A group of Occupy SF protesters took over the Cathedral Hill Hotel on January 20, 2012. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Minor altercations and an act of vandalism marred an otherwise “extremely peaceful” day of protests in San Francisco, a protester said Friday.

Hundreds of protesters clad in rain gear marched through downtown San Francisco Friday evening, one of several events in a day of action organized by Occupy San Francisco and other allied groups.

The march kicked off at Justin Herman Plaza at the foot of Market Street at around 5 p.m.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

“It’s been extremely peaceful all day,” a protester known as Stardust said Friday night.

Some protesters got into an altercation with officers in riot gear near Van Ness Avenue and Geary Street shortly after 7 p.m.

Roughly a dozen protesters were pepper sprayed by officers during a confrontation with police, protesters said. Protesters also said some officers used physical force against the protesters.

Shortly after the confrontation, some protesters appeared to break at least one window of a business, which drew criticism from fellow protesters.

“(There) should not have been any property destruction,” Stardust said.

Stardust said the vandalism goes “completely against our action agreement for today and (for) all actions of Occupy SF.”

Some protesters entered a vacant building on Cathedral Hill around 7:45 p.m., police Officer Carlos Manfredi said.

Manfredi said he could not comment on possible arrests or police action Friday evening as it was still ongoing.

The day of action began with protesters chaining themselves to the entrances of Wells Fargo Bank’s corporate headquarters at 420 Montgomery St. early Friday morning.

Then shortly before 9 a.m., protesters also began blocking a nearby Bank of America branch at 345 Montgomery St.

Multiple blocks of California Street and Montgomery Street were blocked for hours Friday by the demonstrations and the ensuing response by police in riot gear.

More than 100 people gathered outside a federal courthouse in San Francisco Friday afternoon to call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn the legal doctrine of corporate personhood.

Police made 18 arrests in connection with Occupy San Francisco protests that blocked two banks in the city’s Financial District.

Of those arrests, 17 were made for trespassing on private property, while one was for a protester who allegedly grabbed a police officer’s baton, according to police.

Wells Fargo spokesman Ruben Pulido issued a statement Friday defending the bank against the protests.

“We understand that Americans are demanding more from their financial institutions during this economic recovery,” Pulido said. “Wells Fargo continues to be a responsible corporate citizen and assists those facing financial hardships.”

He said in the past year, less than 2 percent of homeowner-occupied loans in the bank’s servicing portfolio have proceeded to foreclosure sale and that Wells Fargo has worked with homeowners to conduct more than 724,000 mortgage modifications since 2009.

Friday evening’s march started at Justin Herman Plaza at the foot of Market Street and traffic was disrupted due to the march.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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