Washington, DC, Other Cities Liberate Unoccupied Buildings for the 99%

November 23, 2011 at 2:04 am (Building Occupations, Housing Occupations, Squatting) (, , )

Occupied Franklin School

From Occupy Wall Street:

Today, Occupy K St./DC liberated the empty, city-owned Franklin School. The school was closed several years ago and initially reopened as a homeless shelter. Despite widespread public opposition, the city government later closed the shelter. Next — in blatant disregard of social safety net programs that are necessary for the very survival of the people who are most directly impacted by economic injustice — announced plans to turn the building either into luxury condos or a hotel for the 1% lobbyists on K St.

In a move similar to other recent building occupations in Oakland, Chapel Hill, New York, and London, dozens of occupiers entered the building with sleeping bags and food and declared their intent to stay indefinitely. Occupy DC announced plans for an open forum to be held at a church next Monday to discuss uses of the building with the public. Inside, they began cleaning the building to make it usable for the community. From the roof, occupiers chanted “We are the 99%!” as others dropped a banner reading “Public Property under Community Control” over the school. Meanwhile, hundreds rallied in support outside.

Police — including the Metropolitan Police and federal Protective Services — responded with full force. A massive police presence blocked all of 13th St and declared the area a “crime scene.” Police then moved into the building and arrested all inside, carrying out people cuffed at the arms and legs. Some protesters banged on the police vans from inside and outside, while others tried to block the vehicles altogether. Police declared they would charge all those inside with unlawful entry, and threatened others with felony charges if they interfered.

Occupations across the world have recently adopted the tactic of taking over unoccupied buildings. In New York, students and allies occupied New School buildings and dropped leaflets and banners from inside during the N17 Day of Action. They continue to occupy buildings on campus.

In North Carolina and Oakland, protesters occupied vacant downtown buildings. As described by Occupy Chapel Hill:

In the midst of the first general strike to hit the US since 1946, a group of comrades occupied a vacant building in downtown Oakland, CA. Before being brutally evicted and attacked by cops, they taped up in the window a large banner declaring, “Occupy Everything…”

On Nov. 12 at about 8pm, a group of about 50 – 75 people occupied the 10,000 square foot Chrysler Building on the main street of downtown Chapel Hill. Notorious for having an owner who hates the city and has bad relations with the City Council, the giant building has sat empty for ten years. It is empty no longer.

Chrysler Building occupied in Chapel Hill

In all four cities, building occupations were met with brutal police action. However, in the U.K., members of Occupy London have occupied a vacant office building owned by a subsidiary of the Swiss Bank, UBS. The protesters have announced their intention to stay in the building under British squatter’s rights laws.

occupied building in London

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