A small group of people claiming to represent the Occupy San Francisco movement have settled in outside City Hall and are targeting Mayor Ed Lee, who they say has turned his back on the homeless.
On Wednesday afternoon, participants used colorful chalk to write colorful messages on the sidewalk outside City Hall’s main entrance. Lee was referred to in unflattering terms, such as “asshat.”
However, a city-employed custodian armed with a garden hose sprayed the sidewalk clean about as fast as the Occupiers could scribble the messages. Sheriff’s deputies, who provide building security, stood on the steps watching. Later, police officers arrived.
The group also made use of a megaphone to send messages to the mayor.
Those in the group said that while in Berkeley, where they were staging a similar Occupy-related gathering in protest of the closure of a U.S. Post Office branch, they had decided to head over to San Francisco. They said they plan to remain in Civic Center Plaza for at least two weeks.
With about 10 participants, the numbers are nowhere near what they were at Justin Herman Plaza at the peak of the Occupy movement in 2011. But participants said they hope their numbers grow.
Rachael Smith, 23, a recent arrival to San Francisco from Idaho who said she is six weeks’ pregnant and homeless, came to The City because she said she always heard it was a place where anybody “can come and be peaceful” and “be accepted.” Smith, who said she is working at a medical marijuana dispensary, said she would like the mayor to stop “ignoring” those in need.
“Some of us are looking for jobs,” she said. “It’s not all of our fault.” Smith said she was spending the night in a sleeping bag.
Nick Anthony Shaw, who says he is an Army veteran and who was a well-known participant of the initial OccupySF in 2011, said the new group just wants to get Lee’s attention.
What would Shaw say to him? “Can you help the people that you’re supposed to be in charge of? Can you do something for somebody that is not rich? You threw these lavish parties for all these rich people but you don’t do anything for the poor in The City. You just want to ship them to Oakland. It’s bad enough you gentrified all of the neighborhoods.”
The group plans to remain in the plaza – and so far it appears law enforcement is not forcing them out.