Supervisor and mayoral candidate John Avalos, who was at the protest last night, is standing with the protesters. Here's his statement, posted on SFist:
Last night I gathered in solidarity with the protesters Occupying San Francisco. Like many people all over the country, I have been watching this protest gather strength and grow as more and more of us, more of the 99% demand accountability from the corporations and people who are responsible for the destruction of our economy and devastation of our families.
I came to down to observe the protest last night in response to summons from protesters and a notice from the police accusing their encampment of a number of minor infractions, ranging from open flames on a city street or sidewalk to serving food without a permit. I observed and negotiated with police in good faith to keep the peace and allow the encampment to remain, only to hear of a crackdown shortly after I left.
This is not the San Francisco that I know. This is not the San Francisco I love. This City has served as a sanctuary for free speech and assembly for generations, and we must protect that legacy. With our unemployment rate nearing 10%, we have a responsibility to be a sanctuary for the 99%.
Instead, last night we witnessed that 99% being detained, arrested, and intimidated with force.
My vision is of a true sanctuary city - one that protects our right to free speech and assembly, and one that holds real criminals accountable. This should be a city for the rest of us - for the 99%. I stand with Occupy SF.
Update 2:50 p.m. Not to be outdone, Ed Lee has released a statement:
I understand and sympathize with the anxiety and frustration felt by so many in our country caused by a lingering recession and joblessness. That’s why I am doing everything I can to create jobs, get people back to work and make our families stronger here in San Francisco.
I support the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement that calls for peacefully assembling to protest and bring national attention to disparity issues in our country.
In San Francisco, protesters are acting within their First Amendment right to free speech and freedom to assemble. While allowing for peaceful protests, we also must ensure that our streets and sidewalks remain safe and accessible for everyone. I will continue to work closely with our Police Chief to ensure San Francisco responds appropriately to these demonstrations.
San Francisco is a city that embraces free speech and freedom to assemble like no other city.
The Federal Reserve sent out an email today to all employees who work in the Federal Reserve building, the center of the protests. An employee of one of the tenants in that building forwarded us the email:
As you are aware, Occupy SF protesters had built an encampment on the public sidewalk outside the Bank’s property along Main, Market and Spear streets. Overnight, the City of San Francisco Police and Public Works departments requested that the protesters dismantle and remove their structures from the public sidewalk and they complied. We understand that the SFPD told the protesters that they could continue to protest on the public sidewalk daily as they wish, but without the encampment.
While we were informed by the San Francisco Police Department of their plans, Bank management deferred to the City’s judgment and knowledge in handling these situations, as we rely on the expertise of the Police in terms of what is legally permitted with respect to such gatherings.
Employee safety is our biggest concern and we will continue to carefully monitor future protests to ensure your safety as well as the integrity of our property and our building. We will continue to keep you informed as the situation warrants, and encourage you to use the back entrance when entering and leaving the building.
So, what's the protesting about? Here's Wikipedia's take:
Perceptions vary as to the specific goals of the movement. According to Adbusters, a primary protest organizer, the central demand of the protest is that President Obama "ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington".Liberal commentator Michael Moore had suggested that this is not like any other protest but this protest represents a variety of demands with a common statement about government corruption and the excessive influence of big business and the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans on U.S. laws and policies.
Peripheral demands such as raising taxes on the rich, raising taxes on corporations, ending corporate welfare, support for trade unionism, and protecting Medicare and Social Security in their traditional forms are expressed by some participants. Occupy Maine is asking for an investment in public transportation infrastructure and the return home of Maine National Guardsmen from wars overseas. Some protesters are calling for an audit or the elimination of the Federal Reserve.
Here is footage of the protest from the OccupySF LiveStream channel:
More from Twitter: