UPDATED 'Occupy' Invades Empty Bank, Police Surround Building

Demonstrators took over the vacant space Wednesday afternoon; Santa Cruz Police were in riot gear outside.

Updated 9:30 p.m.—Occupiers held a general assembly meeting and voted unanimously to hold the building until they are arrested. There were about 40 outside and 10 inside. The ones inside asked for welding gloves and dispatched a committee to find pallets behind grocery stores to build barricades.

At one point, in an ironic moment for people who are trying to claim their use of public space as a First Amendment right, they shouted at news reporters asking them to stop filming.

"We'll make you stop," one said when asked what they would do. "We'll keep shouting until you stop."

Updated 8 p.m.—Occupy Santa Cruz demonstrators are having a dance party in in front of a vacant bank while other protesters hold their position inside the building.

Police left the scene just before 8 p.m., as about 40 demonstrators danced around a giant public address speaker in the bank parking lot.

Riot gear-clad officers had surrounded the building after the Occupy movement took over the former Coast Commercial Bank mid-afternoon Wednesday.

Update 7 p.m. Police tried to get into the bank, but were held back.

The occupiers were about to begin their evening General Assembly in the bank's lobby when some 30 police officers surged the front doors of the building. Occupiers quickly stacked furntiure and used planks of wood to bar police from entering. 

The bulk of the crowd gathered on the front lawn of the bank and stood face to face with over two dozen shield and baton wielding members of the Santa Cruz Police.

The officers used batons to keep the protestors at bay while other police attempted to enter the barracaded bank. 

Original story, 6:40 p.m.—Occupy Santa Cruz took over the empty Coast Commercial Bank building at Water and River Streets around 3 p.m. Wednesday, because they say the building was being held hostage by Wells Fargo.

"Capitalism has taught us that no one is ever going to give us anything," said OSC spokesperson Mark Paschal. "You have to take it.''

Paschal, a graduate student whose major is "a century of crisis in education," says the building was serving no purpose other than as an asset on paper for Wells Fargo. They want to make it into a community center that would host workshops explaining their cause. OSC also plans to make the area available to other community groups that need space.

Asked how long they plan to stay, he said the people who initiated the action are not going to simply disperse when asked to.

"There are plans to barricade the building if necessary."

When asked if the 50 or so people on hand were enough of a force to hold the building one occupier who remained anonymous was more skeptical.

"They have been planning this for almost two weeks—that's a generous estimate. I think they might have jumped the gun."

Six Santa Cruz police cars, two motorcycles and a van were parked at the bank, with officers clad in riot gear observing the action from the front of the bank and near their vehicles.

When asked what their plan was, one officer asked a Patch reporter to move back and that he didn't feel comfortable answering questions.

City Council member Katherine Beiers was there. She said she was just passing by and was so surprised by the actions that she stopped to check it out.

"Some private people own the building, and so they can be outside but going in, I don't like it," said Bieirs. "I came by and was really surprised like 'whoa,' and I really thought Don Lane was negotiating with them."

An occupier then asked her who was using the building.

"No one was using it," said Beiers.

"Well, we're using it," said the occupier, getting a laugh out of the council member.

Police used the Nixle alert system to alert Santa Cruz residents about the demonstration and urged people to stay away from the area. Traffic is affected.


Willow December 01, 2011 at 06:37 AM
So these people are saying that empty buildings are theirs for the taking? Maybe I'm being simplistic, but making oneself at home at another's property without the owner's permission and blocking entrances (and thus exits) with furniture that is not theirs, is breaking and entering. There's nothing legal about it. Demonstrating and protesting is one thing; this blatant criminality and laughing in the face of authority has carried this "movement" way too far. By the way, Mark Paschal, capitalism does not teach one takes what is not theirs.
Brian December 01, 2011 at 08:06 AM
looks more like a city council party with police for protection, city workers to close off traffic, Theyve been doing it with the rittenhouse building ,, only it was a private card access only party. Looks pretty scripted..... Also City Council member Katherine Beiers was seen inside hanging out inside. Whole new generation of pacs and community organizers need training... good to see the police and city officials working together with the next generation of social workers... even if its under the ospices of 'protesters'... amusing must say
Willow December 01, 2011 at 03:49 PM
With the "lesson" these "occupiers" are teaching, the homeless have the green light to take over any vacated building and do as they will. Now the shelters can be done away with, saving the city money, and the homeless can be assured they will have police protection around the clock. Great! Someone needs to tell these "protesters" they need to get a "general council" together and do something constructive, instead of destructive.
Brian December 01, 2011 at 04:38 PM
except those homeless arent organized into a pac sanctioned by the police and city council and would be arrested no matter how smart they think they are, there barricades would be knocked down like a drug house and theyd all go to jail.
Daniel Wootan December 01, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Iif you read the flyers they passed out before the action, that is exactly what they are saying. In other countries there are laws that open up buildings to a legal form of squatting if the owners choose to not make use of them for several years. This is to encourage those who control capital to invest in communities. If they don't the governments have regulations that govern those who wish to take the place over.
Michele December 01, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Tell me . . . what socialist society has ever been successful and it's citizens happy? Sorry, Occupy Santa Cruzans (and other occupy cities) are a bunch of mis-guided individuals with an "entitlement attitude."
Marie Norstrom December 01, 2011 at 06:04 PM
These people are accomplishing nothing and the homeless are taking advantage of the situation. Society owes you nothing. You choose the life you live. Work for what you want. You can't just take over the property belonging to some one else. Thinking you are above the law only makes people turn against you. And the people you say you represent are the same people who are paying for the city/county services used in dealing with you. Marie
Willow December 01, 2011 at 07:05 PM
To Daniel Wootan: May I assume by your reply that you are part of this gathering? Passing out a flier prior to commiting a criminal act does not make the act any less criminal. And, by the way, in case you have not noticed it, you are not in another country which subscribes to anyone's taking over an empty building. You are here and the laws of the USA are the laws by which you are to abide. There are ways of changing laws, but breaking in and taking over a place that is not yours is not one of those ways. By the way, by your standards, if I want a house, all I have to do is break into an empty one and claim it as mine? Gee.... here I thought I'd have to qualify for a mortgage and put down actual coin of the realm. Guess a lot of us have been doing it the wrong way, according to you and the fliers.
Brian December 01, 2011 at 07:11 PM
In the United States, a political action committee, or PAC, is the name commonly given to a private group, regardless of size, organized to elect political candidates or to advance the outcome of a political issue or legislation.[1] Legally, what constitutes a "PAC" for purposes of regulation is a matter of state and federal law. Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, an organization becomes a "political committee" by receiving contributions or making expenditures in excess of $1,000 for the purpose of influencing a federal election.[2]
Brian December 01, 2011 at 07:13 PM
Community organizing is a process where people who live in proximity to each other come together into an organization that acts in their shared self-interest. A core goal of community organizing is to generate durable power for an organization representing the community, allowing it to influence key decision-makers on a range of issues over time. In the ideal, for example, this can get community organizing groups a place at the table before important decisions are made.[1] Community organizers work with and develop new local leaders, facilitating coalitions and assisting in the development of campaigns.
Brian December 01, 2011 at 07:22 PM
Eminent domain (United States), compulsory purchase (United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland), resumption/compulsory acquisition (Australia), or expropriation (South Africa and Canada) is an action of the state to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen's rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner's consent. The property is taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, economic development. The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are for public utilities, highways, and railroads;[citation needed] however, it may also be taken for reasons of public safety, such as in the case of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Some jurisdictions require that the government body offer to purchase the property before resorting to the use of eminent domain.
Brian December 01, 2011 at 07:32 PM
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area. Such actions can involve multiple areas including development of human capital, critical infrastructure, regional competitiveness, environmental sustainability, social inclusion, health, safety, literacy, and other initiatives. Economic development differs from economic growth. Whereas economic development is a policy intervention endeavor with aims of economic and social well-being of people, economic growth is a phenomenon of market productivity and rise in GDP. Consequently, as economist Amartya Sen points out: “economic growth is one aspect of the process of economic development.” [1]
Willow December 01, 2011 at 08:06 PM
While I disagree with eminent domain practices in many of the loose interpretations of its intended purpose, it is still done by the government and through a regulated process, not by private citizens who choose to take over a vacant building to further their "cause." The Occupy crowd does not have public utilities, highways, railroads, schools, or public safety in mind by occupying a building that is not theirs. They have vandalized the building, by entering through the roof, they have announced their intentions of further vadalizing it by requesting welding torches, and they have freely announced they intend to illegally occupy it until they are arrested. Anticipating arrest implies they know their actions are not legal.
Daniel Wootan December 01, 2011 at 10:20 PM
Not part of the gathering. Not my standards. That is from the literature handed out by the organizers while I was interviewing them and hearing their views as well as the perspectives of the police, city council and other residents. Just thought I would share that bit of their view because you made an interesting point. In fact there is a healthy dose of sarcasm in both of our comments I believe.
Willow December 01, 2011 at 11:11 PM
Daniel Wootan, thank you for clarifying that, and my apologies for the incorrect leap to a false conclusion. I would also like to point out that the vandals have asked for wooden pallets to be stolen from behind grocery stores. How many more crimes are these people going to freely commit, announcing beforehand that they are doing so, and not be persued, apprehended, and charged? Is it because, as I stated previously, mob rules, whereas a single individual doing the same would be prosecuted?
OneGuysThought December 01, 2011 at 11:45 PM
There are a bunch of vacant houses around and maybe more on the way thanks to the forclosure crisis. Maybe homesteading those properties to financially able folks might be just what we need to slow down the depreciation on the rest of our houses. It's time to stop gathering and start proposing ideas people can get behind. It's easy to complain.
Brian December 02, 2011 at 03:39 AM
""Capitalism has taught us that no one is ever going to give us anything," said OSC spokesperson Mark Paschal. "You have to take it.'' Paschal, a graduate student whose major is "a century of crisis in education," says the building was serving no purpose other than as an asset on paper for Wells Fargo. They want to make it into a community center that would host workshops explaining their cause. OSC also plans to make the area available to other community groups that need space.""-quote from article above
frobert December 02, 2011 at 04:46 AM
I hear the police have a few vacant positions. Maybe these folks would like to try to occupy the open cubicles? Now that would make for some good news footage! I'd pay to see that on the news!
JBK December 26, 2011 at 07:05 AM
Marie Norstrom typed "You can't just take over the property belonging to some one else. " Oh yes you can! Just ask any native American......


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