While things have generally been quiet around Justin Herman Plaza lately, no camp raids or riots to speak of, the Occupy SF camp attracted rowdy out-of-towners over the past few days. And that means the media has just enough fodder to gently discredit the group.
On Tuesday, the Examiner reported that a 23-year old Occupy protester from outside of Los Angeles was overheard complaining that he "didn't want to go back to prison" before showing off his holstered handgun to a fellow protester. The handgun turned out to be unloaded, and the SoCal occupier was released, but the incident still riled the cops. SFPD spokesman Sergeant Daryl Fong told the Examiner that the escalating violence (if you can call it that) is, "of concern because the obvious threat to public safety." The gun-toting protester had recently been booked on drug charges in Los Angeles.
Yesterday, a 34-year-old protester and Pennsylvania resident was also booked on suspicion of assault and an outstanding warrant after he threw a glass bottle in the direction of a DPW worker who was prepping for a daily power-washing of the bocce ball courts on the plaza.
Despite all the shenanigans down on the plaza, it seems fears within the camp that Mayor Ed Lee would bring in another raid after election night were unwarranted. As Mayor Lee told the press yesterday, another raid would be "premature at this time", but that doesn't mean the occupiers are off the hook — Lee implored occupiers to cooperate with the city if they want to keep their camp. In order to avoid confrontations, Lee explained, "they have to help us with the complaints we're receiving." Those complaints include some protesters trespassing on the Embarcadero Ice Rink and a tussle between two campers over a blanket that ended in one pulling a knife on the other.
Anecdotally speaking, reports like these don't seem to be helping the general public's image of the camp. Just this morning, for example, this SFist editor overheard two gentleman on the 21-Hayes discussing "app development" and quietly laughing off the idea of the Occupy camp. Although one of them was a grown man wearing a fedora, studded Ed Hardy getup and carrying a Transformers backpack for schoolkids, so maybe everyone is guilty of being a fringe element in one way or another.