Occupiers on the roof of the not-so-empty Coast Commercial Bank building at the corner of River and Water Streets enjoyed a cigarette while pondering their next move.
“Have you decided what you will use the space for?” asked a woman passing by just after 7 a.m.
“We haven't come to a consensus yet,” said an occupier perched three stories above. “That is both our weakness and our strength.”
“Okay, well I will stop by later to see if you guys need food or anything,” she said as she continued her morning walk.
Although many in Occupy Santa Cruz support the seizing of the building, they say the move is not directly connected with the encampment across the river in San Lorenzo Park.
“I think it's just a group of people apart from a working group or the [General Assembly],” said OSC web designer Andy Moskowitz. “I think they're just riding the tide of occupy everything that is going around.”
This complicates the position of the police department. Department spokesperson Zach Friend said they had been talking with the General Assembly through police liaisons to ensure both Ocuppy Santa Cruz's right to assemble as well as safety for the general public.
“This is a massive escalation based on the conversations we've been having with them all along,” Friend said. “People have a right to make political statements, they have a right to express their First Amendment rights. They don't have a right to break into buildings. They don't have the right to occupy empty spaces like this..”
However, the group inside the building doesn't agree. On their way in on Wednesday afternoon, they plastered to the large windows of the building with with their manifesto in the form of posters such as “rent is theft,” “stop foreclosures,” and “your boss needs you, you don't need them.”
One man, Joseph David Singer, 26, was arrested Wednesday for breaking down police barricades and resisting arrest, according to police spokesman Zach Friend.The barricades, Friend said, were put up to protect the protestors from car traffic.
However, 75 River Street has been peaceful since police left at 8 p.m. Wednesday and both sides are quietly exploring their options.