Umm. So tonight, 12/1, something weird happened with the SFPD. I’m not sure of everything behind it, and I know I only have a partial picture, but I’m going to relay what I know, what I saw and what was relayed to me by other Occupiers which has formed a more complete picture of things. I have filtered out the junk, the speculation and the crazy talk from this. This is important because it is part of our story and also an indication of the turmoil we had heard tell of in the rank and file of the SFPD.
So tonight, the SFPD showed up at OccupySF and nobody is really sure what the hell the objective was, why they were there or who ordered them there. Basically, 30 or 40 officers showed up during rush hour and started putting barricades around the perimeter of the camp without talking to anyone. This, after we had supposedly had a noon order of dispersal from the city and were already anxious. The police barricaded the entire perimeter of the park in, and people panicked, stormed the barricades and knocked them over. The police officer that was injured was running trying to stop a bunch of barricades from falling over domino style and he tripped and fell into the Embarcadero and his hand was run over by a car. That isn’t a joke, a number of people saw it happen in front of them. Another of our people was hurt in the melee. The asshole that hit, or tried to hit a cop? Well, fuck him, he can rot in jail. We’re a non-violent movement and I won’t have that upstaged because you want bragging rights. Anyway, so the barricades around Justin Herman Plaza were torn down and the police retreated towards 101 Market and the Federal Reserve.
The General Assembly met and blockaded Market Street in front of the Federal Reserve, while dozens of people trickled in until there were several hundred people basically surrounding the SFPD and their barricades. This is where I arrived on the scene and saw the SFPD begin tearing them down themselves and tossing everything in the back of SFPD trucks.
This is also where it gets interesting, because it’s the first time I had observed any of the rumored infighting myself. Over the last few weeks, several Occupiers had seen SFPD officers in heated arguments about what they thought should be done with us, with most of the SFPD allegedly siding with us being left alone. Since I hadn’t seen it, I made sure to tell people it was only rumored or that I had heard it from other people. But tonight I saw it with my own eyes, and 5 other people told me the same thing!
Here’s what I saw: I was heading to Walgreen’s on California and Drumm to get batteries for my megaphone and there was 5 SFPD throwing barriers into the back of a pickup truck and they were having a loud conversation. As I got closer this is what I heard:
Officer #1: “I don’t understand what the fuck we’re doing here. Why are we here?”
Officer #2: “Just shut the fuck up, OK?”
Officer #3: “Why don’t we just arrest them all?” (mind you, GA was being held in the middle of the street and our facilitator was inviting the Riot Police at the Fed to come on stack and talk to us, hahaha)
Officer #2: “Listen, just shut the fuck up ok?”
So yeah, nothing major, except for the fact that their voices were raised and they had none of the professionalism you typically see with SFPD. Nothing too crazy though. It wasn’t until the other reports of similar scenes started coming in that I was starting to see a pattern. One story, observed by 2 different people, really stuck out to me.
After the SFPD had cleared the barricades from in front of the Federal Reserve and 1 Market, they were grouped around Justin Herman Plaza and were clearing the piles of barricades there. Two officers/commanders were observed in a heated argument that went something like this:
Commander #1: “Are you questioning my orders?” A hush on the gathered SFPD people.
Commander #2: “No, but we don’t have the morale or the manpower for this anymore.”
And the first officer pulled the second through the gathered throng of police and out into the middle of the street where I’m told they continued a heated conversation at length. In front of the police and Occupiers and even some press.
What really bothered me personally, was the looks on the officers’ faces this whole time. They looked lost and sad and just generally upset. Their entire operation was a clusterfuck, the Chief of Police was allegedly on the news changing his story left and right, saying at first that we were “too paranoid about a raid” and then telling another news station he needed to deploy the barricades to “contain the violence”. Several Occupiers heard police officers remark to the effect of “we were supposed to gain ground, but instead we lost it!”
And indeed, they had lost it. 101 Market and 1 Market had previously been occupied by the SFPD with a labyrinth of barricades deployed as an area denial tactic after cleaning the camps 2 weeks ago. Not only did our “pop up Occupation” immediately retake their former stomping grounds at 101 Market outside the Federal Reserve, but we immediately called for a victory dance party and some random person brought us hot pizza after hearing about what had happened.
I dunno. It was really weird. I am going to need to let tonight’s events marinate and I’m interested in seeing the city’s attempts at damage control, since it looks like this whole shit was mismanaged and I’m not even sure half of them knew what they were supposed to be doing out there.
One thing that is cool is we took all the plastic bands that were holding the barricades together and made bracelets from them. It’s sort of a symbol of the “101 Market Tribe” and our bond with each other and a symbol of this weird weird weird weird night.
Was tonight a victory? Is it a sign that the SFPD might be the first police department to “break” and stop doing beastly things that they’re told to do only to get the ire of the working classes and poor? San Francisco has its asshole cops, like those guys that were stealing poor people’s valuables in those SROs, but I have to say, out of all the cities I’ve lived in, all the protests I’ve seen or been a part of, San Francisco also has some of the best goddamn cops I’ve ever seen, and I think that’s going to work in our favor as a movement.
I dunno, like I said, I’ve got to let this night marinate quite a bit. I’m not sure what the hell happened, and I’m not even sure how I feel about it. Jubilant, yes. Happy that my 101 Tribe peeps got their homebase back. But really, something isn’t right about this thing with the SFPD and I need to think on that and do some homework.
Anyway, just telling our story the best I can.
Love and Solidarity,
OccupySF Welcome Committee and Committee of Correspondence
@scottanansi on twitter
Here’s the bracelet we made out of the zipties the SFPD was using to secure the barricades. HURRAH! ^___^