Occupy SF campers settle in for the long haul 

Members of Occupy SF who have taken over Justin Herman Plaza are settling in for the long haul with a camp that consists of nearly 100 tents, hundreds of people, and compost and recycle bins.

The setup and limited police presence is a far cry from the plaza’s condition the night of Oct. 16, when the Police Department attempted to take down the tents and disperse the occupiers in a clash that ended with five people arrested.

Dozens arrested in Occupy Oakland police raid on camp.

According to members of Occupy SF, the camp has been quiet since the raid and many said The City seems willing to work with protesters, acknowledging they will be around for a while.

“Indefinitely is the term,” Occupy SF member Katt Hoban said. “We are here to maintain a peaceful assembly in a clean and healthy way.”

Hoban said members also are beginning to create an organizational system and trying to comply with The City’s demands, such as moving tents off the plaza lawn and using the dozens of compost and recycling bins provided by the Department of Public Works.

In a recent police commission meeting, Chief Greg Suhr told members of Occupy SF, who were there to complain about the Oct. 16 camp raid, that the police had “no future plans to go into the demonstration.”

Suhr also said he would help with the sanitation issue by bringing portable toilets and hand-sanitizing stations to the camp. However, nothing has been brought to the plaza since the meeting. Calls for comment from the Police Department were not immediately returned.

On a recent visit to the camp, an environmental health inspector with The City made a routine check of the kitchen, which is set up in one of the bocce ball courts.

Occupy SF member James Mills said while demonstrators appreciate the food donations, the group is waiting to use much of it until a burn permit from the Fire Department can be obtained in order to cook meals. Currently, food is cooked off-site.

“I’m looking forward to actually being able to cook,” Mills said.

“But more than that, we’re still about affordable housing, reliable jobs, health and retirement, and holding those in charge of it accountable,” Mills added. “More water for drinking, cooking and bathing wouldn’t hurt either.”

Demonstrators at Justin Herman Plaza are aligned with the growing Occupy movement, which has a presence in hundreds of cities nationwide and began with Occupy Wall Street in New York City in mid-September to protest income disparity in the U.S. and the influence of big business on politics.


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