Police arrested 95 protesters who stormed a Bank of America branch in downtown San Francisco Wednesday afternoon and refused to leave.
A sheriff's bus had pulled up near the bank, at 50 California St.,
near Davis Street, and police were loading protesters in plastic handcuffs into the bus. The crowd outside cheered as they brought the protesters out one by one.
At about 2:15 p.m., at least 100 protesters rushed into the
branch, taking it over. They stood inside chanting, "We are the 99 percent."
At about 2:40 p.m., police ordered the protesters to disperse.
Police in riot gear scuffled with protesters, shoving them out of
the way to access the building's doorway. Some people had been trying to exit the bank and others were blocking the officers' path as they tried to enter.
Many of the protesters left the bank, but dozens of them remained inside and erected a tent in the middle of the floor.
Some wore bandanas and some stood on desks. Shortly before 4 p.m., police began making arrests.
The protesters were participating in the "ReFund Public Education
March," organized in part to protest the cancellation of the UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco this week.
The meeting was canceled because of fears that violent protests
would occur, according to the regents.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee met with Occupy SF protesters at City Hall Wednesday to discuss his continued concerns about the encampment that has been at Justin Herman Plaza for the past several weeks.
Lee, who made his first visit to the encampment on Tuesday
morning, has expressed concern about health and safety conditions at the camp, which has increased to about 200 tents in the plaza at the foot of
He reiterated those concerns at Wednesday's meeting, which also
included supervisors and heads of several city departments.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Lee said he "expressed very
strongly" the city's conditions for allowing the encampment to remain, including reducing its size and adequately cleaning up the plaza.
"We're giving them the immediate opportunity to demonstrate that and we'll see what happens," he said.
Lee did not say how long he would give the protesters to adhere to the conditions, but Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, who also attended the meeting, said it is time to act.
"My opinion is it's an unsafe and unhealthy situation and it's
escalating," Hayes-White said.
Tomas Aragon, director of population health and prevention with
the city's Department of Public Health, said conditions are deteriorating because of "the large number of people in a very small, confined space."
Aragon said health inspectors are going through the camp twice a day, and although there have been no viral outbreaks, fleas and lice have been reported at the encampment, among other issues.