The city-imposed noon deadline for Occupy San Francisco protestors to vacate their campsite near Justin Herman Plaza came and went on Thursday with no action on the part of SFPD or other city officials.
Last night, Department of Public Works chief Mohammed Nuru gave the campers a deadline to leave the plaza and repeated his offer for them to move to an abandoned lot in the Mission. While largely open to the idea, those present at last night's general assembly were unable to reach a decision regarding a change of location and, hence, stayed put.
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Noon passed with little incident. Police presence was minimal--no more than the normal smattering that's been monitoring the camp around the clock for weeks.
While the camp seemed essentially normal, there was a palpable tension in the air. The atmosphere that had often seemed friendly and jovial in the past felt tighter, almost besieged.
Jake, a soft-spoken Bay Area native who has been living at the camp for about a month, built a makeshift fence out of cut up pieces of poster board--his own small way of guarding against the possibility of an impending raid.
"It's been magical," he said of his time inside Occupy SF. "It's like a utopia. Race, class, money, all the stuff has no meaning here."
Jake noted that the camp had thinned out considerably since that morning as some Occupiers decided to vacate instead of facing the threat of arrest. "This happens every time the police threaten to crack down," he said with a shrug. "People leave but more come to take their place."
Not everyone at the camp responded to the city's ultimatum with the same calm. A shirtless camper with slogans written in sharpie all over his body threatened extreme action if the camp was shut down. "We will spread out across all lanes of the Bay Bridge, " he shouted. "We will shut this city down."
Ed Lee has repeatedly asked the occupiers the leave Embarcadero-adjacent plaza, he issued a similarly ignored deadline earlier this week, but has thus far refrained from forcible eviction.
Mayoral spokeswoman Christine Falvey denied there was a deadline the city was going to enforce.
"The mayor is going to be patient with the group," Falvey said.
San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius praised Lee's strategy. "In the short run, San Francisco's approach to the Occupy Wall Street camp - look the other way and whistle softly - has been a success," he wrote in a column published earlier this week. "As other cities are discovering, setting deadlines and announcing raids only get the Occupy forces, and the media, worked into a lather."
Check out this slideshow of shots from Occupy SF, and feel free to submit your own: