Arrests after overnight 'San Francisco Commune' occupation

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PHOTO BY ALEX KERFOOT

After at least 100 people remained in a building at 888 Turk for almost 24 hours, police ended the occupation at 1:30 pm today, blocking off the street, and arrested more than 70.

According to a press release from OccupySF, the occupation's purpose was "creating a community center in the spirit of the buildings original intention, to create a center for health and healing.  In a city with ten thousand homeless people and thirty two thousand vacant but habitable units, it is a crime against humanity that people are prevented from sleeping through the night as part of a political protest or as a basic human right."

A muni bus carrying police in riot gear pulled up in front of the building and officers ran out, issuing no warning to those inside.

The number of occupiers had jumped since noon, when a march of about 40 supporters arrived. A large group was on the second floor when police entered; according to protesters who remained inside, some had barricaded the stairway.

“For a while, we knew they were inside the building and we could hear a sound like a battering ram,” said one protester, who says that she was transported to the jail in the same vehicle as a man who sustained a broken wrist during the raid.

Some who were outside the building when police arrived were allowed to leave out the front door, and others may have exited from different routes.

Independent journalists were among those arrested.

Protesters say that they were occupying the space to demand rights for the homeless and a community center in which to organize.

The occupation was part of a “National Day of Action for the Right to Exist,” organized by the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) and USA-Canada Alliance of Inhabitants. According to Paul Boden, an organizer with WRAP, demonstrations in conjunction with the day of action took place in 17 cities.

“The government serves the people. If the laws stops working, and there are people who are homeless on the street and they need a place to stay, they should be able to stay there,” said Shannon Mueller, a sophomore environmental studies major at the University of San Francisco. Mueller and others from Occupy USF joined about 50 others who protested outside police lines as the arrests took place.

Most have been charged with misdemeanor trespass.

Neighbors varied in their responses to the occupation on their street. Some from the Parkview Terraces apartment building across the street expressed support and gave donations to occupiers, while others reproached the group or called, “get a job.”

A group of about 50 supporters gathered at Union Square to at 5pm and marched to 850 Bryant where some of those arrested were being released, blasting music, dancing, and chanting “this is what solidarity looks like.”

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