Occupy Santa Cruz Continues Seige on Empty Bank Thursday; Police Watch and Wait

Police struggle with how to deal with the newest move of the group, which splintered off from the original movement outside the Santa Cruz County Courthouse.

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.

Willow December 02, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Exactly! What's next? Is this the green-light for anyone to take over empty buildings and homes, as long as it's done as a mob? Good lesson in law for the youth (of whom this mob seems to be).
Michele December 02, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Couldn't agree more with Willow and Brian. This whole occupy movement makes me sick. Expressing first amendment rights is one thing but the mob mentality is another. When you engage in civil disobedience . . . expect to be arrested. Peaceful, respectable, intelligent demonstrations are taken seriously. Occupy movement is any but.
Christo Purdin December 02, 2011 at 08:17 PM
I couldn't agree more with this movement and it's offshoots. It makes perfect logical sense to repurpose vacant buildings to benefit the local community. We need more common sense approaches to modern problems. Business as usual is not working for the majority of your countrymen and women. If it's working for you, that's great. But you could open your eyes to the reality that exist outside your small bubble. Sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. The message of this movement is loud and clear. Capitalism is broken. Fix it or we will.
Whitney Wilde December 02, 2011 at 08:41 PM
Better "mob rule" than corporate rule. Isn't taking over buildings you don't technically own what foreclosure is all about? Why is it okay for corporations to do it and not people? These folks are not hurting anyone. They are occupying an empty building to make a statement. No one has been hurt. The property has not been hurt, there are people in there cleaning up after themselves. The space is being utilized for community-building endeavors. By the way, that "mob" is representing all of us who are being screwed by an unethical, immoral, financially-driven system that puts the rights of the corporations above the rest of us. Two days ago, a 75-year-old woman was evicted and foreclosed upon in SF. Occupy SF took back her house and put her back into her home. Let the mob rule. Ask yourself... what if the "mob" is right? Are you seeing "the big picture" or just attached to an idea of what you consider is legal? Is it the best thing for the community for that bank to sit empty? Is the space being used for better purposes now? Aren't you tired of losing hours at work, health benefits, public services like libraries. etc. to stand up and put a stop to it? Will you wait until YOUR home is foreclosed on or your rent goes so high you can't afford it before you open your eyes to the fact that you are getting screwed and it won't stop until you stand up for yourself? Or are you lucky enough to be part of the 1%?
Brian Friesen December 03, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Should be occupying the actual banks which have bankrupted America!


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