A new YouTube video presents a much clearer picture of what Police Chief Greg Suhr has called a “sprint of vandalism” in the Mission District following Occupy SF demonstrations earlier this month.
Denizens of the leaderless Occupy movement deny the vandals were “with them” or had anything to do with plans building up to the group’s citywide May 1 demonstrations. But occupiers still faced flak from small business owners who were flabbergasted that they’d be lumped in with the group’s anger against big banks and corporations.
The video depicts a march — which Suhr estimated to consist of 100 to 150 anarchists — chanting “no more pigs in our community” and smashing the windows of several cars and businesses. After the window of a slick sports car is smashed, one protestor can be heard saying, “Should have left it in the Marina.”
Business owners also questioned the police response to the mini-riot, which happened over a 15-minute period. Suhr said although protestors attacked police cruisers with paint and trash cans on the scene, officers were correct in not confronting the crowd without proper reinforcements.
“The chances to logistically engage that group — it would have been physically impossible,” Suhr said. “Then it turns into a battle. Officers reverted back to their training, and that was smart, not to create that event.”
One suspect was arrested following the destruction. The video, posted on AnarchaLA’s YouTube channel, is titled “Scenes from a Black Bloc” in reference to group tactics that involve wearing dark colors and obscuring faces before attacking property in large numbers for solidarity. Suhr said a distinction must be made between this “splinter group” and the largely peaceful Occupy demonstration that had happened just earlier in Dolores Park. He suggested the damage was the work of an “anarchist criminal street gang” and members should be prosecuted in the way any gang members would.
“I believe they did it as a gang,” Suhr said. “Whether or not we’re able to meet that burden, I don’t know.”
Suhr suggested that those peacefully exercising First Amendment rights in The City should notify police if any violent elements appear to be surfacing.
“Just ask us,” Suhr said. “We’re there, facilitating. Say, ‘Hey, this guy is going to do something bad and we don’t want him in our demonstration.’”