Under the cover of darkness, San Francisco police officers cleared out occupiers early Thursday from an urban farm in the city’s Hayes Valley neighborhood, authorities said.
Officers began gathering outside the former site of Hayes Valley Farm around 1:30 a.m. and moved in about an hour later. Seven occupiers were arrested and police removed three others from six makeshift treehouses the group had built on the site.
The "Liberate the Land" protesters entered the site on Laguna Street between Fell and Oak streets on June 1, the day after farm proprietors left.
Hayes Valley Farm opened in January 2010 under an interim-use agreement with the city that allowed organizers to temporarily use the land to build community and raise awareness about growing local food.
The interim agreement has now ended and the land, owned by developers Avalon Bay and Build Inc., plan to begin construction on a 182-unit housing project there later this year.
The activists have named the site "Gezi Gardens," after Gezi Park in Istanbul where anti-government protests have been occurring over the past several weeks, and had refused orders to leave.
Early Thursday police officers came and gave dispersal orders to the roughly 44 people who were at the property, police spokesman Sgt. Dennis Toomer said.
Three activists were on platforms in trees and refused to come down, so police asked for assistance from the city's Department of Public Works, which provided cherry pickers that officers used to go up and arrest the trio, Toomer said.
Toomer said one of the protesters tried to avoid arrest by climbing out on a tree limb, then jumping onto foam padding that police had set up below.
The protester was not seriously injured in the drop and was taken into custody, Toomer said.
Two others were arrested on the ground inside the site, and two more were arrested outside for disorderly conduct, Toomer said.
The names of the seven activists taken into custody have not been released. The land in question used to be the site of a freeway on-ramp that was torn down after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
While it was the Hayes Valley Farm, as many as 20,000 volunteers worked at the 2.2-acre site and numerous community events were held there, according to organizers.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.