Twenty demonstrators arrested and booked into county jail after a violent protest in the Financial District on Saturday may be tied to last month’s violence in the Mission District, police said Monday.
The protesters, self-described anarchists, were part of a group of 100 that took part in Saturday’s action. Though the suspects did not claim affiliation with the Mission violence, San Francisco Police Department spokesman Gordon Shyy said the tactics they used mirrored those used in September.
Most of Saturday’s protesters dressed in black and hid their faces behind dark masks as they marched down Market Street. They threw road flares and bags of paint, some with rocks, and targeted officers, according to Shyy.
“It’s our investigation that led us to believe that they were associated,” Shyy said, adding that the protesters were given numerous opportunities to disperse.
Violence erupted on Sept. 20 and 21 after an unidentified officer shot 22-year-old Oscar Barceñas, a member of the Norteño gang. Police say Barceñas brandished a semiautomatic handgun when he was ordered to stop by undercover investigators. Police Chief Greg Suhr said that Barceñas, an ex-convict recognized by the officers, may have been attempting to retaliate for a fatal shooting on Sept. 16 near Garfield Square.
During the protests that followed the Barceñas shooting, the Mission District’s Farina restaurant and Live Fit Gym were vandalized.
Shyy said that Saturday’s arrests were in light of neighborhood concerns about long-term safety and inadequate police patrols, voiced at two Mission community meetings on Sept. 24 and at other events.
“We heard their concerns about the last protest, where business owners had property destroyed … they were in a sense criticizing police for not taking action,” Shyy said. “We changed our tactics. As soon as [Saturday’s protests] became violent, confrontational and [engaged in] vandalization, the police stepped in.”
The 20 suspects — 11 men and nine women — were charged with conspiracy; riot; refusing to obey a lawful order from a peace officer; resisting, delaying or obstructing a police officer; and assault and battery on a police officer. When police searched the suspects, they found hammers, an ice pick, road flares, illegal fireworks and bags of paint.
Due to the Columbus Day holiday, it was not possible to learn whether all of the suspects were still in custody. Some may have been released, depending on the charges, Shyy said.