Thousands of members of OccupySF gather at San Francisco City Hall to register a massive dissent. Carol Harvey photo


Commentary by Buford Buntin

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]an Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has “bent over backward,” at least according to the editorial in the San Francisco Examiner on Dec. 9, 2011, which lauded him for his “patience” in supposedly taking his time before “clearing out” Occupy San Francisco.
It seems to me that Lee has been anything but patient, having just recently arrived in his mayor’s seat after his hypocritical “non-campaign.” Actually, one of San Francisco’s most long-term bureaucrats back-doored his way into the mayoral office via the support of political hacks, dealmaker Rose Pak, and much mainstream political loot. Lee is hardly the angel portrayed by the SF Examiner.
“He must now stand firm to insure that the protesters don’t rebuild the encampment,” the Examiner editorial went on to say. Lee has rescinded his offer, the Examiner points out, to “let” OccupySF rebuild their encampment in the Mission District. In his first big power play as the city’s top official, he chose to chomp down his big-toothed political smile on the First Amendment rights of the occupiers.
Instead of protecting the peaceful element of OccupySF, Lee has presided over a police force which, by all accounts, has assaulted OccupySF regulars while rousting them recently at 3 a.m. The mayor has condoned if not ordered the raids himself.
“I understand and sympathize with the anxiety and frustration caused by the lingering recession,” Lee is quoted as saying. He admits that “economic disparity and joblessness” are obviously major problems, so why does he condone the police raids on OccupySF?
Squelching legitimate protest is not going to make these problems go away. Only the creation of jobs and better housing options, along with the improvement of several other social service programs, will serve as a start to end these ills.
Lee is ultimately responsible for the police raids on the Occupy group, as well as anyone else who exposes the need for social change. He justifies this clampdown, just like every other politician who claims to be a so-called “liberal.” Instead of protecting the peaceful protesters, a member of this movement has reported that police have assaulted OccupySF regulars while rousting them out at 3 a.m.
Instead of supporting this movement, Mayor Lee seems intent on killing the occupiers’ phenomenal, revolutionary spirit. Peaceful freedom of expression is a constitutional right. The local government must allow OccupySF to continue its encampments and protests.
Protesters should be allowed to remain in Justin Hermann Plaza, at least as long as the big banks and financial investment firms continue their permanent capitalist encampment in the Financial District. Or, at least until the economy totally collapses, which doesn’t look too far into the future, does it, Mayor Ed?