San Francisco police back off on Occupy SF raid 

Five San Francisco lawmakers came to support the nearly 1,000 Occupy SF protesters who feared a downtown encampment would be raided by police Thursday morning.

The raid by police did not materialize.

Board of Supervisors members John Avalos, Eric Mar, David Campos and David Chiu addressed the crowd around 1:30 a.m., along with state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.

Click on the photo to the right for more picutres from Wednesday night or scroll down for video of city officials addressing the Occupy SF crowd.

Kim said the supervisors came "because we strongly believe in the first amendment rights of everyone here."

Mar encouraged Mayor Ed Lee to visit the encampment before police enforcement, saying "the reality is that this plaza is safer than the many places of The City."

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu talked with KGO Radio on Thursday morning.

When asked whether he and his colleagues' presence at Justin Herman Plaza had anything to do with why police called off the raid he said "we really don't know."

"We're just really grateful that there wasn't a confrontation last night," he said. Chiu said he was relieved the situation was not a repeat of the  Occupy Oakland crackdown Tuesday. He said he was glad "we didn't have an incident like that."

A raid was expected on the encampment at Justin Herman Plaza around midnight, police said Wednesday. Speculation that the camp would be raided had been swirling since police Chief Greg Suhr issued a warning earlier this month because protesters were violating city codes.

Rumors of police action only intensified after city health officials sent warning of witnessing several health code violations and what city officials called unsanitary conditions.

Chiu told KGO Radio that he did not "see some of the health issues suggested by the press."

When pressed by KGO Radio, Chiu said his presence had nothing to do with his run for San Francisco mayor.

"This has nothing to do with a mayoral campaign," he said. "We are at the tail end of a recession and there are a lot of people hurting."

When asked what The City should do to address the encampment, Chiu said city officials want to balance public health issues and the people's right to express free speech.

"It is illegal to camp in The City but we have to figure a way to accommodate first amendment rights," he said.

Media reports on Wednesday showed video of several San Francisco police officers and vehicles gathering en masse in Potrero Hill on Wednesday evening, allegedly preparing for a raid.

rnagle@sfexaminer.com

Bay City News and media reports contributed to this story.

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