Occupy Seattle Joins Wave of Building Occupations

3 12 2011

taken from OccupyWallSt.org

Last night, undeterred by the city’s destruction of their original encampment, hundreds of Occupy Seattle supporters occupied a vacant warehouse slated for demolition and condo development. After entering, Occupiers erected barricades, held a General Assembly, and began plans to fix up the space for community use.

Using SWAT teams and a ladder truck, police swarmed the warehouse, making 20 arrests and setting an unsettling precedent for the escalating use of military-style tactics against nonviolent occupiers who are liberating public space.

Occupy Seattle is currently holding a jail solidarity action in front of the King County jail and are requesting all their supporters show up!

Like similar building occupations across the country and the globe, Seattle’s occupation of the 10th and Union warehouse signals a new stage of the Occupy movement. Facing a coordinated crackdown on public encampments, occupiers are moving indoors. In the lead up to December 6th, the National Day of Action to Occupy Our Homes, Occupations from Los Angeles to Minneapolis to Atlanta to Boston are turning empty and unused buildings into commonly-held resources for our communities, and defending homes from foreclosure and forcible eviction.

In early November, government-owned mortgage company Fannie Mae foreclosed and threatened to evict a police officer and his family from their home suburban Atlanta. After a 13-month court battle, the family requested help from Occupiers. Occupy Atlanta set up tents in the front yard and draped a banner reading “This Home is Occupied” over the porch.

Shortly afterward, a single mother in Cleveland asked her local Occupiers for help. Occupy Cleveland pitched tents in the yard and vowed not to leave unless she was allowed to stay. As a result, a local court issued a temporary stay on the eviction.

Two days after Occupy Portland’s camp was evicted, around 15 members of Occupy Portland moved in to a vacant, foreclosed home in Northeast Portland owned by Bank of America. Inside, the Occupiers outlined a plan to house up to 30 people in the home, arranged cooking and other communal responsibilities, encouraged others to take similar action, and planned a legal response in case of police action. Police used a battering ram to enter and evict them. Two people were arrested and the rest allowed to leave. Many residents of the community were supportive of the occupation. Also in Portland, police raided three vacant homes that had been occupied by anarchists acting autonomously in support of Occupy Wall Street.

On November 19th, in spite of arrests, Occupy Minneapolis formed a human chain around a family’s home and prevented the foreclosed house from being boarded up. The police eventually gave up and left. On Nov. 21st, Occupy Boston joined hundreds of allies to protest foreclosures. 15 people were arrested during a sit-in at a Bank of America.

As we’ve already reported, members of Occupy DC liberated an unused school that had previously been a homeless shelter and attempted to open it for community use; Occupations at the New School in New York, Chapel Hill and Oakland have occupied downtown buildings; and Occupy London has turned a vacant office building into a “Bank of Ideas.”

In Santa Cruz, autonomous Occupiers entered an unused bank branch and, issuing the following statement, claimed it under California’s adverse possession laws:

Today, the building at 75 River St. has been adversely possessed. No longer will the property exist only as an empty parking lot and a vacant building with a sign re-directing people to Wells Fargo across the street. It will be repurposed and used to benefit the community instead of Cassidy Turley, the large-scale commercial real estate company currently leasing the building, and Wells Fargo bank.

Instead of an empty space, there will be a space for community teach-ins, an open library, and discussion forums. The space will be offered to Occupy Santa Cruz as an opportunity to have a roof over its head and allow for more organization to take place. The space will be safe, non-violent, non-destructive and welcoming. The building will be a forum for individuals in the community to learn from one another, and help the Occupy movement grow.

Elsewhere in California, Occupy Los Angeles disrupted a foreclosure auction bidding outside a courthouse. Occupiers chanted “shame on you!” and “banks got bailed out, we got sold out.”

from the LA Times

In Philadelphia, a mother and her children who had been evicted from their home came to Occupy Philly for help. On November 17th, the Philly General Assembly unanimously passed a proposal to get the house back and defend it. Occupy Chicago has held teach-ins on reclaiming open and unused spaces, land occupation, and foreclosure resistance. Occupy Minneapolis has begun discussions on occupying new homes.

We anticipate even more amazing stories of liberated buildings on December 6th!




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