Report: Contrary to SFPD, Massing of Police Was Prep for Aborted Occupy SF Raid

Update Friday, Oct 28 Last night KTVU reported that contrary to what the SFPD said yesterday, that gathering of police on Treasure Island early Thursday morning was indeed going to be a raid on Occupy San Francisco, and was not just a training exercise.

The two raids police had planned to conduct at Justin Herman Plaza, one late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, and a second one Thursday afternoon, were canceled at the last minute.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said Thursday the encampment at Justin Herman Plaza needed to be cleaned up.

“We’re kind of trying to strike an agreement about how that can get done without being threatening to either side, so that’s all I can say at this time,” Lee told KTVU.

The Mayor told KTVU he will announce his plans for Justin Herman plaza by Saturday afternoon….Early Thursday morning, police officers gathered on Treasure Island and last night they were staged in Portrero Hill.

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said Thursday these were just training exercises…

Police sources said some officers were placed on overtime to conduct the raids before they were cancelled.

Police told KTVU both the mayor and the police chief are experienced in dealing with protestors and both likely came to the agreement that the timing was not right.

Here’s the video from KTVU.

Supervisor John Avalos told KTVU that police “were not being forthright” and that events in Occupy Oakland had probably given the city pause.

Yesterday’s post On Tuesday, the city handed out notices to Occupy San Francisco protesters with the heading “You Are Subject to Arrest.”

Last night, amid much attention to the fallout over Oakland’s raid on its own Occupy protesters, there was a lot of web chatter that San Francisco was about to follow suit. From the Chronicle today:

San Francisco police appear to have called off an early morning raid of the Occupy SF encampment at Justin Herman Plaza. Police called in reserve units and gathered with batons and helmets near the plaza this morning only to disappear a few hours later. Protesters who have been camping on the plaza for the last few weeks say police gave them a written notice saying they were calling off the raid.

Today, as KGO reports, police said the gathering of police was merely a training excercise.

This morning, a police spokesman said this was a training exercise to practice crowd control and that there wasn’t a plan to clear out Justin Herman Plaza. While training, they were also ready to help out in Oakland if needed. Mayor Ed Lee’s spokesperson says he is still assessing the situation.

“The mayor has asked his department heads to go through. It’s a balanced approach. He doesn’t want to overreact. He wants to make sure that city and staff are going through and making sure that anyone who is there, who needs certain services, or shelter, gets it,” said Mayor Ed Lee’s spokesperson Christine Falvey.

Here’s what law enforcement sources told Phil Matier yesterday:

Law enforcement sources at the highest level told CBS 5/KCBS/Chronicle insider Phil Mater that the San Francisco Police Department never intended to raid or clear out the encampment. Rather, the sources said police were put on standby because they wanted to be ready in case the recently-evicted Occupy Oakland protestors joined the crowd with Occupy SF.

When it was determined there would not be a large scale joining of protests at Justin Herman Plaza, all the mobilized SFPD officers were released. A source told CBS 5 that SFPD Chief Greg Suhr received a text message directly from Mayor Ed Lee telling him that police could “stand down.”

The city basically confirmed this today.

Video report from KGO:

KQED’s Ian Hill has curated a chronological timeline of the way the story developed on the web in the early a.m….

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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