Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

SFPD Arrests 56 ‘Occupy’ Protesters During Raid on Vacant Church Building

April 2, 2012 by Brett Wilkins in Protests, Rich & Poor with 0 Comments

888 Turk, Occupied (Photo: Brett Wilkins/ Moral Low Ground)

Ending a short-lived takeover of a vacant downtown building, San Francisco police cleared out the structure this afternoon, arresting scores of ‘Occupy’ protesters in the process.

Following a march through downtown San Francisco on Sunday afternoon, members of the OccupySF Commune and other protesters entered the building, located at 888 Turk Street, declaring their intention to turn the unused structure into “a center for health and healing” for the city’s substantial homeless population.

According to OccupySF:

“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. The city wants OccupySF and the homeless off the street–harassing, intimidating, and arresting us every night–so now we are inside creating a vibrant space for health, humanity, and free expression… The building is now occupied by a group of people willing to offer services such as food, housing, education, and community-building skills for free.”

The building is owned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco and had previously been used as a mental health clinic.  “Five years ago the Board of Supervisors cut the funding to this vital community center causing many people with mental illness to be put out on the street and become subject to arrest and harassment simply for now existing in these very same streets they were forced into,” OccupySF said.

The protesters unfurled a banner exhorting the 99% to “fight back.” Yet another banner read: “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses.” Their trespasses, however, were not to be forgiven.

Moral Low Ground first visited the latest Occupation around 11:00 am in an attempt to deliver a bag of groceries to the protesters inside the building. But SFPD Lt. Troy Dangerfield stopped this reporter from approaching the building. Dangerfield gave his assurance that he would deliver the food to the protesters, who were standing no more than 50 feet away. But instead, he placed the bag in the bed of a police pickup truck.

Off to jail… (Photo: Brett Wilkins/ Moral Low Ground)

When it was pointed out that he lied about delivering the food, Lt. Dangerfield replied, “Lying isn’t against the law.” “But stealing is,” this reporter retorted and demanded the bag be returned. The food eventually was delivered into the building, but less than an hour and a half later, many more officers arrived and blocked acces to the building. They then broke through a barricade erected by the Occupiers, using a power saw and battering rams to gain entry to the building. Shortly thereafter, groups of Occupiers in zip-tie handcuffs began being brought out of the building and loaded into a MUNI bus and police van.

A distraught protester confronts an SFPD officer who clearly wishes he was somewhere else. (Photo: Brett Wilkins/ Moral Low Ground)

One protester, identified as Nick Shaw, was apparently suffering from health problems and lost consciousness for an indeterminate period while detained in a police vehicle. Although an ambulance was standing by at a gas station not 200 feet (61 m) away, Shaw was denied prompt medical care even though he was heard crying out for help.

By 3:00 pm, Moral Low Ground had observed at least three dozen protesters being led from the building in zip-tie handcuffs and loaded onto waiting vehicles as a group of around 20 protesters, many of them apparently anarchists, cheered their arrested comrades and chanted anti-police slogans on the sideline. An OccupySF representative announced that attempts to secure a meeting with officials from the Archdiocese of San Francisco had failed.

The Archdiocese released the following statement:

The Archdiocesan properties at 888 Turk St. and 930 Gough that have been occupied are properties for the use of Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory High School, which is an archdiocesan school.SHCP is an urban high school with a campus that is compressed in an urban environment. SHCP and the Archdiocese bought these buildings five years ago to serve the students on campus in a variety of ways. Some of the buildings have been used for music and art classes until as recently as 18 months ago. These classes have been relocated to the newly built theatre arts center directly adjacent to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption.

 

According to SFPD spokesman  Sgt. Mike Andraychak, a total of 56 protesters were arrested during today’s raid.

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