Will the End of San Francisco's Mayoral Race Lead to the Eviction of OccupySF?
Like those in a number of other cities, San Francisco officials have signalled that #OccupySF, now a sprawling encampment on the scenic Embarcadero, is living on borrowed time. They've repeatedly spoken about the need to remove tents and infrastructure and clean up, and have offered various eviction notices over the past months (they did remove tents at the Federal Reserve building on Market Street).
But the occupation has had a force-field around it as impenetrable to police as any body armor: local politics. We've been in the thick of a mayoral race, and in San Francisco that means candidates going out of their way to prove their progressive creds. And that, in turn, means aligning themselves with the goals of the Occupy Movement, speaking out about the value of free speech and decrying the heavy-handed tactics Oakland officials have employed across the Bay.
On the 27th, we saw just how powerful the protection conferred on OccupySF by local politics is. That evening, it was announced on NBC news that the camp would be evicted later that night. Everyone expected it. I went down there to find the occupiers doing non-violent resistance drills (I was drafted to role-play a cop!). There was an enormous amount of tension in the air, as protesters got word from their spotters that hundreds of police in riot gear were staging for the crackdown. Then word went around that they'd boarded buses and were underway.
But the crackdown never came. Instead, mayoral candidates -- I think five of them -- arrived to mingle with protesters, give impromptu speeches and effectively take the eviction off the table for the night. (SFPD later denied that these things were related and insisted that the deployment was merely part of a midnight training drill, a story that was plausible to anyone looking to buy the Brooklyn Bridge).
Anyway, today is the day we San Franciscans vote. After the race is settled, it will be interesting to see if things heat up at OccupySF -- which has been pretty quiet -- in the days and weeks to follow.