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Do Protestors Live Where They Shout? By: Rachel Gordon
SFGate.com | Thursday, March 27, 2003

The anti-war demonstrations in San Francisco have proved to be a powerful magnet, drawing law-breaking protesters from as far south as Mexico, as far north as Washington state and as far east as Connecticut -- but only a minority from the city itself, arrest records show.

"Call them tourists with a cause," said Dewayne Tulley, a spokesman for the Police Department.

Officials provided a snapshot Monday of those arrested in the first two days of street-closing demonstrations last week following the start of the U.S. war on Iraq.

Of the 646 processed by the Sheriff's Department Thursday and Friday, 239, or 37 percent, gave San Francisco addresses. The rest, almost two-thirds, came from out of town.

The East Bay is home to 163 of the arrested protesters, with most coming from Oakland and Berkeley. The Peninsula accounted for 22. Forty-five came from the northern Bay Area counties and 31 from the South Bay.

Much of the state was represented -- from Eureka to Turlock to Sonora to San Diego. Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California sent 33 people our way.

And the protesters hailed from at least 14 other states. Nine are New Yorkers; 12 live in Oregon. Mexico was the only other country represented on the list.

Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Eileen Hirst speculated that many of the nonlocal arrestees attended Bay Area universities but still used the addresses of their hometowns.

"It doesn't make any sense to have one person from Boonville, one person from Crescent City, one person from Illinois," she said.

The Sheriff's Department breakdown does not offer a complete picture of all those arrested for such things as failing to disperse, blocking an intersection and assembling unlawfully.

The Police Department has processed more than 1,000 other demonstrators but has yet to compile the demographic data, Tulley said.

However, he thinks the numbers will mirror the sheriff's findings if past mass arrests at demonstrations in San Francisco are any indication.

Mayor Willie Brown, either through premonition or experience, was close to the mark last week when he lamented that the majority of people blocking the city's streets came from out of town.

"I would ask that they gather peacefully in our city when participating in protests, and also consider taking political action in their own communities, which may or may not be as anti-war as this community," Brown said. "In a time when our city faces huge deficits, further disruption to our city's economy and endless draining of our public resources is unfair to the people of San Francisco."

The protests have cost the city about $900,000 a day in extra expenses, when everything from police overtime and street cleaning to lost revenue at the Muni fare box is factored in.

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