San Francisco News

SFPD raids occupied building; 26 protesters arrested

Wednesday, May 02, 2012
SFPD raids occupied building; 26 protesters arrested SF commune Protesters remain holed up inside building Protesters took over a building at Turk and Gough streets. Mission District cleanup Vandals spray paint, damage cars in Mission District

San Francisco police made a pre-dawn raid and arrested more than two dozen protesters who occupied a building owned by the Catholic archdiocese during protests Tuesday.

The scene at 888 Turk Street was much different Wednesday than it was on May Day. Occupiers took over two buildings there during what was a mostly peaceful occupation, until one violent incident changed everything.

Police say they decided, in large part, to clear the building because of one man's actions. 34-year-old Jessie Nessbitt climbed on the roof of the building and threw metal pipes and bricks over and over again. No officer was injured, but a protester was hit in the head. One occupier who was arrested and released Wednesday morning disavowed that violence. "The actions of the people that were violent have no ties to us. We're completely non-violent protesters," he said.

Nevertheless, the violence led to a tense standoff. Police finally withdrew from the front of the building at around 7 p.m. Then, at about 5 a.m. Wednesday, they moved in and began making arrests. All but two people were taken downtown and charged with trespassing. Police say the operation went smoothly. "26 people were taken into custody without any incident. There were no report of any injuries or any reportable use of force," a police spokesman said.

Protesters also said the arrests went without incident. "Police came in and did their thing. And, we exited peacefully and we got arrested," a protester named Diedrich said.

By Wednesday morning, workers were fixing damages to the doors which were pried open by the occupiers. They boarded up a broken window and installed a new fence. Trash bags were filled with the protesters' litter. ABC7 News was taken on a tour through the building by a church spokesman. No real property damage or vandalism was found, unlike the last time protesters took over the building April. The church said they caused $25,000 in damages that time. The church says it will review its security procedures in both buildings in light of the two takeovers.

Asked how many of the 26 protesters are from the city, the SFPD said most are not. Police say 11 are from out of county, four are from out of state, and six were booked on what is called "a continuing offense" because they were arrested last month when they took over the same building.

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Tags:
vandalism, SFPD, mission district, occupy sf, crime, san francisco news, vic lee
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