Those controversial fences at the 24th and Mission BART station were torn down, apparently Saturday morning, and a protest group is taking credit for holding down the “liberated space.”
When BART and Supervisor Hillary Ronen had those fences put up around the 24th and Mission plaza in late July in an attempt to curb illegal street vending, the fences were supposed to stay up for 60 days while a vendor permitting process was put in place. On that announced timeline, the fences were scheduled to stay up until late September.
They didn’t make it that long! SFist observed early Saturday afternoon that the fences have been suddenly torn down from the northeast corner of 24th and Mission Streets. (The fences were still up at the time of this Friday Chronicle report from the previous afternoon.)
We cannot confirm with certainty who removed the fences, though an SFPD officer on the scene later Saturday afternoon told SFist it was "protesters." Further, a collective called SF Mission DeFence promoted some sort of action there in the lead-up, and has posted videos of their Saturday morning skirmishes with both SFPD and BART Police.
As seen above in a Friday Instagram post, the timing coincides with an “All Day Saturday” action of “Grass Roots Community Outreach” to “Come out and Support the Plaza vendors and the Mission community.”
A (now deleted) Saturday morning post from just after 8 a.m. declares, “Show up right now at 24th and mission if you can to hold down the liberated space!” While that post has since been deleted, SFist has a screenshot of it above.
The above Instagram post from around 9 a.m. Saturday (also now deleted) showed a six-minute confrontation with BART Police. The fences had already been removed at the point this was filmed, which may be why BART Police are there. DPW personnel could be seen in the background of the now-deleted video, cleaning up the aftermath of, well, something.
“The community doesn't want this fence here,” a protester can be heard telling an officer. “You’re just basically a white man that just gives a fuck more about his job to come record some Black and Brown people.”
That same protester also adds the gems that “These motherfuckers are just the epitomacy of white supremacy,” and “These are rent-a-cops, too, so they’re not even real fucking pigs.”
Another Instagram video from later Saturday (stop me if you've heard this before — now deleted) showed a confrontation with SFPD. It was basically just ten minutes of protesters yelling at SFPD.
But at the end of those ten minutes, one of the protesters addressed a female SFPD officer by saying, “She thinks she’s a man,” and “a woman should never be walking around with a damn gun and a uniform." When he added that she should be “barefoot and pregnant,” the videographer cut the video, perhaps realizing this was not their most winning message.
We have more indications that the removal of fences may have been related to a protest in a set of flyers posted around the station, in both English and Spanish. “No Fence, No Walls, No Borders, No Cops!” the flyers say. They also decry the vendor permitting legislation, by saying “Supervisor Hillary Ronen is working with the city funded non-profit organization known as ‘Calle 24’ to kick vendors out of our shared community space (the 24th St. BART Plaza.)”
“We will not sit by quietly while the City treats (housed & unhoused) residents, vendors, & workers who use the plaza every day like a nuisance to be swept up into its squad cars & jails,” the flyer notes in their call to action. “Vendors have a right to sell, to survive, to thrive in the spaces we all share.”
Notably, the fencing was not removed at the southwest corner of Mission and 24th Street, and the corner remains unaffected by Saturday’s activity.
Whereas on the northeast corner of 24th and Mission Streets, the fences and barriers are all still there, just no longer standing. They seem stacked in a fairly organized fashion, which may or may not have been the work of DPW earlier in the day. There was no DPW, SFPD, or BART Police presence when SFist took these images shortly after noon Saturday.
But the larger issue is that the plaza is back open, for now at least, on the northeast corner. Whatever your feelings about this, it has to be a relief for people using wheelchairs, strollers, and walkers, as the fencing had very much limited their mobility.
Parenthetically, Saturday is also seeing another of those recurring Lowrider Cruise events on Mission Street. These events now are fully sanctioned and permitted. The foot traffic they bring is also a great boon for the small businesses on Mission Street, despite the outlaw origins of Lowrider culture decades ago.
And this presents an interesting contrast in the current culture of Mission Street itself, in terms of what is currently being sanctioned and welcomed, and what is not.
This is a developing story, and SFist will provide updates if the situation changes.