With the arrival of spring comes new life and opportunity, especially for the Occupy movement. After a winter of losing ground to police and local governments, both literally and metaphorically, Occupy has stepped up a new tactic: squatting.
On Sunday, Bay Area Occupiers made camp on Turk Street in an abandoned building owned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco. They dubbed the place the San Francisco Commune, putting up banners and scrawling anti-corporate and anti-police slogans on the walls.
By the next day, the police had moved in and evicted the group, arresting 75 in the process. Nearly all were charged only with misdemeanor trespassing, a relatively minor offense.
The irony is that the Occupiers announced their intentions to take over the building before they actually moved in, yet the police didn’t stop them. Since the building is privately-owned, cops first needed the consent of the property owner.
Occupiers are aware that city code prevents them from doing what they did. But as Rob Benson, a longtime movement member, pointed out, it was time to adjust their strategy:
“Either we quit, or we go to private property. They’re not letting us gather in public property. And we need to assemble, because it’s obvious when we’re split up and going to different meetings all over The City, we really don’t have a voice at all.”
Anyone even remotely familiar with Occupy and its tenacity knows that quitting isn’t an option.
While the stunt may not have lasted long, the group did manage to snag a few headlines and continue to call attention to its fight against income disparity, corporate greed, and excesses on Wall Street.