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Friday January 21st

Police vacate occupy protesters from Franklin Street property

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Protesters occupying a Franklin St. property were broken up by law enforcement officers wielding guns around 5 p.m. Sunday.

Protesters occupying the former Chrysler building at 419 W. Franklin St. were arrested by law enforcement officers wielding guns Sunday evening.

According to a Chapel Hill Police Department press release, police sent a tactical team in to break up the protest after learning that known anarchists were present. According to the release, the group had people stationed on the roof and had obstructed the building’s windows.

Based on the risks, police secured and entered the building, arresting eight people for misdemeanor breaking and entering. Those arrested were transported to appear before a magistrate in Hillsborough.

Occupiers said despite rumors that police might ask them to leave, they didn’t expect what they called a “raid.”

“Not a single person in there had any weapons or anything,” said Stephen Greenslade, who was at the scene and said he had a gun shoved in his face. “There was a rumor that they were going to come in and ask people to leave.”

Kieran Preissler, a Chapel Hill resident and a senior in high school, said though he has not been occupying, he was talking to occupiers at the time police came.

He said a white van pulled up behind the building, and police officers began to enter the building. He was handcuffed and had guns pointed at him, he said.

“Assault rifles are scary to begin with, but two feet in front of my face, like woah,” Preissler said.

Preissler was released, but other occupiers were loaded onto a Chapel Hill city bus by police and removed from the scene.

The occupiers, a spin-off of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, had moved into the dealership Saturday night.

Occupiers said they knew they were breaking the law by trespassing on the scene, but were not given a warning by police.

John Wooten, a Chapel Hill resident who was watching the police break-up, said he thought law enforcement were vilified by the protestors.

“You can’t break into a privately owned building,” Wooten said.

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