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Occupy San Francisco Creates Social Center in Vacant Church Building


In another sign of the Occupy movement's diversifying tactics and growing spring momentum, yesterday Occupy San Francisco liberated a vacant building owned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco and announced plans to establish a permanent occupation — including a social center, shelter, and food bank — on the site. The April 1st action began with a lively march from Union Square before arriving at the building just before 6pm. When they arrived, Occupiers who had already secured the building greeted the marchers with open doors.

The two-story building, located at 888 Turk St., soon filled with hundreds of exuberant Occupiers. Preliminary reports indicate that the Archdiocese has asked police not to take any action until the morning. However, the Occupiers are requesting help and numbers in case of any eviction attempt. If you are in the Bay Area and are able, please get down to the San Francisco Commune as soon as possible! Most recently (as of 1am Pacific time), police had surrounded the building with barricades to prevent supplies from getting inside. Occupiers have announced they will serve breakfast at 9am and are inviting everyone to join them!

Local media described the action as a ¨well-organized takeover.¨ Speaking to local press, a representative of Occupy SF stated, "There is no reason why any building should be vacant when people have no housing. We ask that the archdiocese do the right thing and allow these services in these buildings." In part directing their message at Church officials, Occupy SF hung a large banner quoting from the Bible: "Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses."

The following is a press release from Occupy SF just before the building takeover:

On Sunday, April 1st, in solidarity with the Western Regional Advocacy Project’s “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” National Day of Action for the rights of the un-housed, Occupy SF working groups & affinity groups are liberating a vacant building and converting it into a social center, shelter and food bank for the people. We have already demonstrated, for 82 days, what is possible when a space is liberated and reclaimed. The encampments at 101 Market St and Justin Herman / B. Manning Plaza were successful experiments in non-hierarchical organizing where resources were shared in a gift economy and collective decisions made through consensus, while food, shelter and medical care were provided to the greater community.

This action on Sunday is not a temporary protest, but a permanent occupation intended to establish a social center. We will transform this vacant building into a productive and vibrant space, just as we did in the plaza occupation, and we wish others to take similar actions and more.

Wealth inequality is increasing, the environment is being destroyed, the police state and drug war are devastating our communities and social movements, while our foreign wars enrich the 1% at the expense of our troops and innocent civilians. In San Francisco alone, thousands sleep on the street while thousands of houses and apartments lay empty. From Chapel Hill to Seattle, from New York to Oakland, people are rising up to directly change the social and economic system by liberating vacant buildings and reclaiming them for the people.

We are taking this action to bring immediate relief and housing to homeless youth in our community, and to provide a space for assembling, sharing food and healing for all people.  

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