Archive for the ‘Squats’ Category

SF Sierra Hotel Occupied!

20 July 2010

SAN FRANCISCO, California – On Monday, July 20, San Francisco community members, outraged by the lack of housing in the city took over the empty Sierra Hotel in San Francisco’s Mission District.

from indybay:

Late [Monday] afternoon housing activists took over the long vacant 43-unit Sierra Hotel in San Francisco’s Mission District. The hotel has been empty for years and is in a state of disrepair though structurally sound. The takeover is “a collective act of homefulness” to protest government cuts of social services that will result in more people being out on the streets.

San Francisco, July 19-It was open house at the Hotel Sierra at 20th and Mission Streets today. Late this afternoon housing activists from Stop the Cuts Bay Area opened up the long vacant residential hotel.

Occupiers found their way into the hotel prior to a rally at 16th and Mission Streets followed by a march up Mission to the site, whose ground floor hosts a T Mobil store.

On the sidewalk below the Sierra, protesters chanted, danced, waved signs, spoke out and enjoyed free food from Food Not Bombs. Upstairs the new residents hung out banners, opened windows and made themselves known for all the world to see.

A single SFPD cruiser with 2 officers sitting in it stood guard over the proceedings across 20th Street.

After a while the downstairs entrance to the hotel on 20th opened up, and occupiers allowed people to come on in and take a look around. After mounting some long neglected steps, we were welcomed to tour the 43-unit hotel. Similar states of disrepair were evident throughout the place, but it appeared structurally sound and has running water and functional toilets.

Activists called the occupation “ a collective act of homefulness” to protest government cuts on all levels that will result in more homelessness, while places like the Sierra are allowed to sit and rot.

A statement about the action asserted, “In a city with so much conspicuous wealth, an estimated 6,000 to 15,000 individuals sleep without a roof over their head. 23,000 or more others are on the waiting list for public housing (a list that is often closed to new applicants), while some 30,000 housing units sit empty.

“The mayor’s vision of San Francisco? Million-dollar condos and ‘affordable housing’ that most residents can’t afford; schools and other publicly owned buildings laid to waste; jail bunks and early graves for those who have no place to rest but the sidewalks.”

The Sierra Hotel also has a storied history of its own. According to several people at today’s action, in 1910 it was The New World Hotel, hideout to radicals of the time and known at “The Last Stop Before Hell.”

Tonight it’s the home of today’s radicals, who’ve made it open to everyone who needs to get off the streets. They’re taking the first steps to put an end to the hell of living without a place to call home these days.

Update:

10am: Squatters are expecting a police siege soon.

10:30am: Squatters evicted and 5 arrested.

They have all been released.

Creative Housing Liberation

13 July 2010

from indybay:

Monday, July 19th, 2010, 5:30pm prompt
Meet at 16th & Mission Bart Station (NE corner), San Francisco, CA 94103
A brief march to liberate & occupy vacant residential bldgs.

In a city with so much conspicuous wealth, an estimated 6,000 to 15,000 individuals sleep without a roof over their head. 23,000 or more others are on the waiting list for public housing (a list that is often closed to new applicants), while some 30,000 housing units sit empty.

Each budget season, the mayor threatens to cut funding for vital housing, health, legal, and other services that help the working poor and indigent. Without these services, many who remain housed would quickly end up on the streets – or dead.

The mayor’s vision for San Francisco? Million-dollar condos and “affordable housing” that most residents can’t afford; schools and other publicly owned buildings laid to waste; jail bunks and early graves for those who have no place to rest but the sidewalks.

On Monday July 19th, community members will respond by undertaking a collective act of homefulness. Please join us promptly at 5:30pm as the march to the occupation site is time sensitive. This is community resourcefulness in action, don’t miss it! Housing is a human right!

Homes Not Jails occupy evicted house

5 April 2010

from indybay:

SAN FRANCISCO, California – On Sunday Homes Not Jails took over a building in San Francisco’s Mission District that had been sitting empty for over two years. The house is the former home of 80-something Jose Morales, who had lived there since 1965 and fought off eviction attempts for 14 years. Morales was finally kicked out of his home of 43 years through the Ellis Act, a state law that caused over 3000 families to lose their homes in San Francisco.

Housing activists and occupation minded activists gathered in the rain at noon [Sunday] at 24th and Mission in San Francisco to rally against the crime of residential building left vacant while people are left out on the streets in the cold and rain.

Homes Not Jails, a direct action nonviolent group that regularly opens up such buildings for people to live in, sponsored the rally. Periodically Homes Not Jails organizes a public action to highlight this tragic situation and take action to show how easily the problem could be remedied. Such was today’s street action.

After rallying in the inclement weather, the assembled marched down Mission Street, chanting “Homes Not Jails” as the Liberation Brass Band added vibrant musical riffs to the mix. The march, accompanied by a large SFPD presence, soon arrived at the former home of Jose Morales at 572 San Jose Avenue in the Mission District. There they were greeted by a group of occupiers who had taken over the building, hanging out banners as the crowd cheered them on. Police fanned out around the area, but took no further action.

A number of speakers, including SF poet laureate Jack Hirschman, articulated many of the reasons the action was necessary, specifically the failure of government on all levels to do a damn thing about houses sitting empty while people suffer and die trying to live outside.

The final speaker was former resident Jose Morales himself. At first overcome with emotion, the Latino octogenarian passionately outlined his struggles to keep his home of 4+ decades, and his decade and a half resistance to eviction attempts by various landlords at his San Jose Avenue home. Morales explained that he was finally forced out illegally through the Ellis Act, a state law that allows property owners to empty buildings if they contend they are going out of the landlord business. Jose Morales was one of thousands in San Francisco booted out of their homes through the Ellis Act by unscrupulous speculators.

The landlord said he was going to turn the property into condos, but when the economy tanked that plan went down the tubes too, and consequently Jose Morales’ home has sat empty for over two years, while Morales himself became homeless.

Meanwhile the mood turned festive at the occupation site. Banners waved in the rain and wind, the brass band funkified the street, and East Bay Food Not Bombs served scrumptious free food, as it had at the rally.

The SFPD, for its part, stood idle. In order to legally take action to oust the squatters, the cops need the landlord to declare the occupiers to be trespassers. Evidently the police were having difficulty locating the (in name only) property owner, and as the afternoon went on, the cops withdrew until they had only a token presence.

And so the occupiers prepared to spend a pleasant and peaceful evening at home, as the heavens poured down their approval.

update: At ~1:30pm April 5th, police evicted the occupiers, charged them with trespassing and released them. More here.

Also, Pancho’s speech at the demonstration.

lowercase

8 February 2010

CHICAGO, Illinois – a message from our friends in Chicago:

The Lowercase Collective has existed for over three years now. It has been
a public squat for two years, and opened its doors to countless people,
projects, and events. One would be hard pressed to find an anarchist who
has travelled through Chicago without ever spending time in this space.
When a place becomes so integral to the collective ethos of a community,
as Lowercase has in Chicago, its destruction can be simply debilitating.

On December 18th, we received an eviction notice for our landlord, who is
in all likelihood a fictitious entity. Shortly thereafter, we proved to
the state that we ourselves have been responsible for paying the bills for
the past years, making repairs, etc. Unfortunately, our attempts were only
able to buy us a few more weeks, as the eviction notice for all occupants
came like a cold wind. Despite the machinations of the Federal National
Mortgage Association, or any other partial owners, we have no intention of
leaving this space without a fight.

Social tension has been percolating throughout our neighborhood for some
time now. There is a general hatred of the police, all the more so with
the existence of gangs on our street. Within a two-block radius, three
other families have already been evicted in the past few months. A month
ago, a black man just riding his bicycle was knocked off it by the police,
beat up, and left without his bike in front of the watching eyes of the
neighborhood. With all of this occurring in the context of our neighbors
reproducing capital and themselves on the daily, this situation could
prove explosive, as we look to push those tensions to the breaking point.

As the legal situation surrounding the house crystallizes, we will be
announcing the time in which we want to invite our friends, in Chicago,
the Midwest, and elsewhere, to join us for the most crucial aspect of
solidarity:  collective action on the day of eviction. We hope to create
something truly wild around the very place we eat, sleep, fuck, dream, and
share ourselves with each other. We hope for solidarity actions from
friends who can’t make it here, but are more hopeful to see your faces.
Defending space in which we live, share, and combat capital is integral to
revolutionary movements. Our past has connected us to so many different
trajectories, and in the near future, perhaps together through our actions
we can give ourselves the time and space to create so many more.

visit them on myspace and on facebook.

contact them at lowercasecollective (at) riseup (dot) net

Fresno Tent City Evicted

30 January 2010

From Indybay: Police Evict Homeless in Fresno

by Mike Rhodes

FRESNO, CA – This morning the Fresno Police Department evicted about 100 homeless people who were living on a vacant lot in downtown Fresno. The video below shows the homeless holding hands on the perimeter of the property saying they won’t move. FPD chief Jerry Dyer is then seen approaching the group and convincing them to pack up and move. Dyer tells them they can move to another vacant lot and that they (the police) will not stop them. When asked if they will be evicted from that encampment sometime in the future, Dyer says they will deal with that on another day.

Most of the homeless then packed up their belongings and moved to a vacant lot about 1 block north of the Ventura and F street encampment. Even as the homeless were moving to the new encampment, a bulldozer could be seen on the corner of Mono and F streets, within sight of the new encampment.

Statement from the Attempted Occupation of the Hibernia National Bank in SF

20 January 2010

Today, several students from Universities across the state attempted to occupy the Hibernia National Bank building in San Francisco. This building which has remained empty for years was recently sold for almost 3 million dollars in a neighborhood where thousands live without homes and hundreds die each year while lacking shelter.  This space has been left empty because of the profit motive – placing the surplus value that could be acquired over the possible human needs that space could and should have fulfilled. We had planned on taking this space and holding it until later in the afternoon, when a march against homelessness and affordable housing would end in a rally nearby. We wished to take an action that would bridge the various movements that are taking shape from the growing discontent in this country and found it logical that the tactic of occupation be used to illustrate the nonsensical logic that dictates how and who uses space.

After a few hours of being in the building, a motion sensor alarm alerted the building owner who then called the police. As we sat in a room deciding how we should proceed the lights in the building suddenly switched on. We began to hear footsteps and voices travelling up from the stairs and initially attempted to hide in one of the rooms. After we realized that there would be no escape and no possibility of adequately hiding we revealed ourselves to the police. We were met with six loaded guns, yelling at us to put our hands up. Even after we had surrendered ourselves pistols were still aimed and ready to fire. The police questioned us and berated us for our “stupidity”, one officer even scolded another for not shooting us on the spot. This threat of violence shown against those who were seemingly attempting find refuge from a winter storm is ridiculous and displays the criminalization of poverty that exists in our society. Furthermore, it shows the backward values of our community which place the protection of private property above the safety and well-being of people. It is doubtful that SFPD’s response to a report of violence or sex slavery in the Tenderloin would be nearly as robust or timely.

We entered the space earlier in the morning to barricade the doors and with the hope of later creating an open space. The idea of an open and notorious occupation off campus requires a closer examination but should not be abandoned. The creation of liberated spaces in the community is something that we strive and dream for. In our decision to take this particular space as well to publicize it widely we wished to show to the student community the common circumstances that exist  between two issues that are normally distant as well as show student support for those dealing with the reality of homelessness and precarious housing. Our failure illustrated to us how much we have to learn from those already involved squatting.

While this attempt was thwarted by the police, we are not finished. While currently in society we are students, we will not allow this designation to confine our action to the University. The issue of unaffordable housing leaves no person unaffected – all people must figure out some way to get a roof over their head. We will of course have to reexamine how and why we squat, but we will squat again.

We stand in solidarity with all of those without homes, those criminalized and demonized by society, and those who have begun this struggle before us.

There will be a march today against homelessness and for affordable housing starting at 11am from Justin Herman Plaza to the Federal Building

Intended Communique from Occupied Hibernia Bank

20 January 2010

Below is the communique that was intended to be released today by those occupying the Hibernia National Bank building in SF:

ON OCCUPATION OF THE HIBERNIA BANK

Today marks the first anniversary of President Obama’s inauguration. Since January 2008, economic devastation has been spreading quickly across the country. This financial downfall is only the latest in a long failure of the leaders of our nations to create a positive, real change for the majority of people. Obama has increased funding to the military and declared that the large banking corporations were “too big to fail”, but he has failed to prove with his actions that he will help all people as generously. Instead, security of the corporate and national interests are prioritized over funding homes, food, and other critical needs for the people of the world. He is not to be bothered with crazy dreams of creating housing and education for all.

Over 6 million Americans today are homeless, and this number is increasing daily due to foreclosures, the rising cost of housing, decreasing wages and benefits, the impossible cost of healthcare, and our shrinking welfare safety net due to budget cuts and structural adjustment.  In San Francisco, a city which prides itself on its progressive values, there are an estimated 15,000 homeless people living in the streets and less than 1000 emergency shelter beds.   This makes no sense.  All people require housing, but the government has proven they will not help to make that happen.  Instead of providing for the people, they pledge huge financial resources to bail out banks and predatory corporations responsible for this economic “crisis” in the first place. This clear lack of interest in the welfare of people across the state is exhibited in the number of those abandoned and criminalized by society.

The poorest of us, the so-called ‘homeless,’ are increasingly harassed by the cops through “quality of life” laws established for the sake of tourism or increased consumption. Now in San Francisco the business community is demanding the creation of a new sit-lie ordinance, banning members of the public from sitting or lying on public sidewalk anytime, anywhere. San Francisco will join many other cities that exclusively enforce these laws upon those without homes, illustrating the degradation individuals face each day because of our criminalization of poverty.

We will no longer take this lying down.  We will no longer wait for a political solution to homelessness and affordable housing that the ruling class will never deliver. We seek not reforms, but a new reality.  If we need real housing, we must take it ourselves.  If we need real education, we must create it ourselves. If we need a new society and economy we must build it ourselves.  We reject the disenfranchisement of our society and recognize that we must take the power back – we must begin by creating realities from our dreams.  We must take back the power and the control of our lives, no longer will it be left to the international corporations, local business interests, and governments to decide how our lives will run from their cozy boardrooms and country clubs.

The actions of students in California have so far been contained in the Universities but it cannot remain that way; the conditions in the schools are inseparably tied to the conditions in our communities, across the state and across the world.  The privatization of schools and social services parallels the privatization of our society. Our current social reality tells us it is unacceptable to demand more money and resources for schools  as that money must come through the decimation of other social services.  We recognize it is futile to demand action from a removed, alien body.  We will become that action we want and we will build and create those resources we need.  We seek new spaces and unheard of relations.  We will begin to create our own realities and our own services. We must find real freedom in thought and action, not this manufactured lie that is spit out to us in every living moment.  We seek the creation of new forms of life, built upon common understanding and solidarity instead of competition and alienation.

We seek to overcome the false separation of the student struggle that keeps us from realizing our common reality with all sectors of society. We are all denied a creative life by the global powers, denied the possibility for the exploration and elaboration of new forms of being besides this exploitation and oppression they force us to endure. We now join comrades across the state who have already begun this struggle – the people who fight against the criminalization of life. Our path to liberation is bound with theirs, we all share an absent future and the possibility for a new life.  If they take our means of survival, rights to housing, education, welfare, union jobs, and other public services, we will take their banks. It remains for the people of this state to seize what is rightfully theirs.    Occupy Everything!

Find foreclosed properties to squat

www.foreclosure.com

Occupation: a do-it-yourself guide –

theimaginarycommittee.wordpress.com

Occupy Chicago

18 January 2010

CHICAGO, IL – The lowercase collective, squatting in a building in Chicago, is in danger of eviction.

from their facebook page:

The lowercase collective is a collectively run urban homestead located on the western edge of Logan Square. For the past two and a half years, it has hosted many organizational meetings, benefits, and activist events. lowercase has had a constant commitment to providing traveling folk and non-traveling folk alike a place to sleep and food to eat. It has a zero-tolerance antidiscrimination policy, and does its best to maintain a safe space – antiracist, antisexist, pro-queer, pro-trans, (etc.) . lowercase is home to a plethora of projects, and has a commitment to reducing environmental impact and promoting self-sustainability.
Unfortunately, capitalism is fighting against the lowercase collective. The recession has hit residents all over the U.S. hard, foreclosures becoming a fact of life, and lowercase is no exception. This collective house may face eviction in the coming months, and its members need all the support they can get to keep it running.