There have been a number of stories elsewhere about the Take Back The Land movement, which seeks to end the foreclosure crisis. Chris Bowers at DailyKos wrote an excellent diary about the occupy movement’s occupation of a police officer’s home to prevent foreclosure foreclosure.
As part of this movement, protesters occupied an abandoned building in Chapel Hill which has been vacant for more than a decade.
The plans to repurpose the building included a dormatory, library, dining room, kitchen, free clinic, performance space, seed library and tool shed for urban farming, free childcare center, and a bike mechanic’s space. The owner’s plans included leaving this space vacant for more than a decade.
Here’s the building before the eviction, courtesy of the Charlotte Observer:
The occupiers cleaned the building, intending to open the space, a former car dealership, to the public. Their plans included a dormitory, a library, and a free kitchen. The owner’s plan was to keep the building he owned completely vacant. The occupiers knew that this action was illegal going into it.
It’s necessary to point out that there’s a discrepancy between the Charlotte Police Department’s description of the building and reality. Here’s how the police department described the situation in a press release, as quoted by the Charlotte Observer:
“Officers also learned that strategies used by anarchists in other communities included barricading themselves in buildings, placing traps in buildings, and otherwise destroying property,” said the statement released by Sgt. Josh Mecimore. “The group in the … building used large banners to obscure the windows to the business and strategically placed members on the roof as look-outs.”
There are a few issues here. First, and this may be nitpicking, one can’t rightly call a vacant building a “business.” There’s no business being done. It’s a vacant building, which drops local property values and provides a venue for drug sales, gang activity, or other activities harmful to society. At least that’s how I’ve heard police describe vacant buildings in the past. They’re damaging blights on a neighborhood, not places of business.
Furthermore, they’re mad about banners that “obscure” the view from without.
Yeah, just look at how obfuscating these banners are:
They’re so big, that to see inside the building, you have to stand in a slightly different spot.This is OBVIOUSLY an attempt to hide some nefarious activity. Like feeding homeless people. Scum.
This occupation was obviously violent and damaging to property. Normally they just tear apart the fabric of American Society with violent acts like setting up a tent, or linking arms. According to the police press release which isn’t available on their website anymore, these people were incredibly violent and did lots of property damage. They also set up traps.
Here’s one of these vile anarchists setting up some kind of trap with a broom!
I have no idea what that man is doing, but it’s obviously something anti-american. So it justifies this response:
I know that the occupation of a vacant building is illegal, but the police went in with assault rifles, and then wrote an alarmist press release tacitly accusing the protesters of setting up traps and property damage. That’s idiotic.
To quote one of the Wobbllies I’ve talked to: “We want to own these spaces, not destroy them!” The bottom line is this: sweeping out a decade’s worth of refuse is obviously a horrific level of property damage. They gave the city no choice but to send in heavily armed police in tactical gear to ensure that this vacant building continues to be a blight on society.
The city’s response was 25 police armed with pistols and modified AR-15 assault rifles. 13 people were forced to the ground and handcuffed, including Katelyn Ferral, a staff writer for N&O. Their pictures were taken before they were released. 8 others were arrested, and charged with breaking and entering. The police had been watching the building since Saturday, and had noted that at least 70 people had been involved in the occupation. They waited until most of them were away to move in.
Because as we all know, cleaning up a vacant building that’s been a blight on a neighborhood for decades and turning it into something useful is the very definition of violence and property damage.