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06/09/04 - Police Presence at SF Police Review Commission
The following is a brief reportback from the SF Police Review Commission meeting, mainly focusing on the heavy police presence. It is difficult to say why the police were out in such force, since the folks that were there in regards to the illegal arrests made during the attempted street party the night before were on their best behavior. Maybe it was simply a matter of them attempting to intimidate folks, or maybe it was simply a way for the cops to milk the city for more overtime.
Gonzalez rips police reaction to protest
Expensive show of force 'becoming absurdly predictable'
Suzanne Herel, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, June 10, 2004
A handful of protesters, who were among 151 people arrested while demonstrating against the world's largest biotechnology conference, gathered on the steps of City Hall with Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez on Wednesday to decry their treatment at the hands of police.
But a police spokesman defended the mass arrests, which occurred Tuesday night when a crowd blocked Fifth and Mission streets. And 38 people who would not reveal their identities remained in jail.
Debbie Mesloh, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Kamala Harris, said Wednesday afternoon that she hadn't decided what charges might be filed. After the city's last large protest -- in April [DUH, DO YR RESEARCH, IT WAS MARCH YOU DUMB ASS CORPORATE REPORTER], timed for the one-year anniversary of the Iraq war -- Harris decided not to charge any of the 124 arrested demonstrators.
"This is becoming absurdly predictable when we have a protest in the city now," Gonzalez said at the press conference, adding that the arrests would carry a hefty price tag for police overtime, court costs and the like. "I very much want to see an explanation from our police chief."
Chief Heather Fong was unavailable Wednesday, but spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens said police officers acted properly to try to disperse a crowd that he said was not peaceful -- despite the protesters' claims. "Everybody saw what they were doing -- they were walking down the street banging on cars, causing havoc on Market Street," Gittens said. "They were attempting to overturn newspaper stands; one guy was climbing up a building. It was not a peaceful protest."
He added that when police surrounded the crowd, protesters threw bottles and food at the officers, and various tools, including "very large pipe wrenches," which were left at the scene. [YEAH, FOOD TO THE PEOPLE THAT WERE ENCIRCLED FOR HOURS BY POLICE, SO THAT THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO EAT SOMEWHAT DECENT FOOD BEFORE THEY WENT TO JAIL...AND YEAH, WRENCHES, SURE]
Lex LaFortune, an emergency medical technician with the Bay Area Radical Health Collective, who was arrested, said the officers' orders to disperse were not audible.
And Sarah Seeds, who was working as a liaison with police, said she "took a baton to the chest twice" and was knocked down in the street.
According to Eileen Hirst, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department, most of the arrests were for misdemeanor charges of obstructing a public right- of-way and failure to disperse. Thirty-five people were arrested before the major incident in the evening, and 151 people were jailed, she said.
Hirst said the company hosting the biotechnology conference would be paying $3,060 for 17 extra sheriff's deputies at City Hall, where a gala for 600 people was held Tuesday night. The city routinely charges groups that rent part of City Hall if they require additional security, she said.
However, the city will foot the bill for about $20,000 in overtime paid to deputies who had to transport people who were arrested to the jail.
Gittens would not say how many extra police officers had been deployed to handle the protests, nor how much overtime the city would pay for them.
Dan Eramian, a spokesman for the conference, said the trade organization usually doesn't pay host cities for police protection. "The way we look at it . .. we will bring in close to $35 million to the economy of the city," he said. "That sounds like a pretty good deal to me."
E-mail Suzanne Herel at sherel [at] sfchronicle.com
Note: Comments added to absurd claims by SFPD spokesperson to briefly address their bs propaganda, and another added to correct the poor journalism of this corporate journalist. Comments are in between [brackets], made by upton sinclair, who was there to witness these arrests after being cited out of the Tenderloin SFPD substation for more bs charges made by SFPD officers against protestors on Tuesday. I was arrested for supposedly not obeying bicycle traffic laws, at which time the SFPD Dirt Bike Sergeant # 1531, made clear threats to arrest more people later in the night(this was at Civic Center, near the SF Main Library at 5:30pm on Tuesday).
Please read on for more pics of the SFPD presence at the Police Review Commission meeting at City Hall on Wednesday night.
This car came and left throughout the night.
They also used their spotlights to shine on the people that were waiting on the steps of City Hall, while the other peoplle were inside the Police Review Commission meeting making comments about how out of control SFPD was on Tuesday night. Numerous people also spoke about the Police killing of Cammerin Boyd; including Police Watch people, Idriss Stelley Foundation folks, and Reclaim the Commons folks. More to come on comments made to the Police Commission soon.
Officer F. Lee was out there most of the night just hovering nearby within earshot of our conversations, claiming that he was just doing his job, and that his job involves standing on the steps of City Hall eavesdropping.
Seemed kind of like the other officer was trying really hard to look tough.
Not including the cars that were there for the Chief and the 9 other SFPD folks inside the Police Review Commission.