Now that their general strike is over, Occupy Oakland activists are looking for a new initiative to keep the momentum rolling – and their gaze is turning toward taking over foreclosed or abandoned buildings.
The subject came up in earnest in group meetings over the past couple of days, and conversations have narrowed down not to whether Occupy activists should take over empty buildings, but when and how.
“It’s a very important front for the Occupy movement all over this country, and if any one city can set a precedent for taking over foreclosed buildings, the idea will then quickly spread,” said Adrian Dyer, an Occupy organizer. “The key is to improve what we occupy, to do it right, to set a good example.”
City officials are predictably unenthusiastic. The one takeover so far of an empty building left a bad taste.
That takeover came late Wednesday after tens of thousands of people had staged a largely peaceful general strike, shutting down the Port of Oakland. As many as 100 black-clad protesters took over a vacant building at 16th Street and Broadway, and when police moved in, the activists heaved rocks and other missiles. Police responded with tear gas, and more than 100 people were arrested.
Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana had a blunt statement about the proposed occupation of buildings: “It will not be tolerated.”
Business groups were confounded that campers would sanction such an activity.
“It’s lawlessness,” said Joe Haraburda, president of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “How about if you were a building owner and somebody took over your property? What gives them the right to do that?”
Some people think that “seizing an abandoned building seems brilliant.” Some people
are idiots need to study law.
Let’s just say the banks really are scared of OWS and are looking for an excuse to crush the movement. There’s not a whole lot they can do as long at the protesters stay on public property.
But once OWS moves onto private property they are trespassing. The property owners can use force, sue, obtain injunctions and demand assistance from the police. If the police refuse to help they can sue the city. Not only that but the protesters lose any 1st amendment protection they previously had.
The protesters also open the door to conspiracy and even burglary charges. If they do occupy empty buildings then sooner or later (probably sooner) there will be vandalism and arson fires. Lots of bad P.R.
Protesters won’t get arrested for misdemeanors and cited out. They’ll be booked on felony charges and have to post bail. Try getting a job to pay off your student loans with a felony conviction on your record.