Noon came and went without action at Justin Herman Plaza today, the deadline by which the city wanted the Occupy SF tents to move to a new site near 16th and Mission streets -- and still there was no consensus among campers about whether the group should move or not. (The guy above certainly wasn't moving, instead threatening to close down the Bay Bridge if the city dare evict him. For the record, that's the same man with the dangle earring who's on the front of the Examiner this morning.)
We went down to the plaza to check out the scene at noon, but found protesters milling around, some waiting for the promised city trucks to come help them move their tents and gear to the new location. So while it looked like some protesters were ready to move on, others clearly intended to stay, perhaps opening the door to a potential police raid. Although the Mayor's Office is denying there are plans for police to storm the camp anytime soon.
The city offered Occupy a vacant, fenced-in gravel school yard in the Mission if protesters promised to follow certain rules: No alcohol or illegal drugs, no noise after a certain hour, no car batteries, and city workers must have access to individual tents.
This guy wasn't moving.
One protester sat by his tent that read: "I will not live behind barbed wire," an embellished reference to the fence surrounding the proposed space. A white dry-erase board with the day's schedule read that DPW had proposed the new location to them on Tuesday, along with a written message saying "We are not abandoning JHP!" (Justin Herman Plaza.)
Still, some said that the move might be a blessing in disguise; they could now weed out the mentally ill and homeless folks squatting in the camp with no real political purpose.
"This is based on a movement -- not a just a lot of people hanging out," camper Aaron Guyton told us. "We offered this space to squatters -- now it's come to this point because too many people are doing their own thing. If you're not holding a sign or creating, maintaining the camp, what are you doing here?"
Guyton said he was willing to go to the Mission. Another camper agreed the new location "seems like a safer solution. Hopefully, the guidelines will be enforced better than here."
Camper Aaron Guyton is willing to move
A homeless man who calls himself Papa Smurf said that while campers felt like a "ping-pong ball," a move to the Mission might be the only way for Occupy SF to survive. "I want the movement to last. This is not gonna last," he says, referring to the Justin Herman camp.
"I talked to sergeants [of the police department] and they said the city has never offered anything to a movement before. I know it's a shitty location, but it's better than nothing."
Still, some campers were not so amenable to the move. "Hell no!" said a young homeless man who identified himself as Kriss Kranus. "Nobody takes the first offer. This is the first offer. We should be out physically in the public's face."
"They're trying to put us in a neighborhood to put us in a cage, because Homeland Security met with San Francisco officials and are trying to sabotage our movement, " Kranus claimed. He also alleged the police were trying to ruin the movement by dumping "drug users with psychological issues" into the camp.
Camper Papa Smurf: Also willing to move
Kranus said if they're thrown out of Justin Herman Plaza, he wants to set up a "revolving occupancy" against the Federal Reserve, financial interests, and the city. "Our stuff will be on wheels and we can move," he said. "In San Francisco, they can't arrest us for sleeping on the street."
Even after unleashing so much vitriol against the proposed move, Kranus conceded that maybe moving would filter out the miscreants. "Maybe they're doing us a favor by kicking us out. It's become a homeless camp."