The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday December 4th

Is Occupy moving in?

On Nov. 13, police raided a vacated business space on East Franklin Street to clear out anarchists and occupiers. The scene was otherworldly.

Men wielding rifles and wearing helmets, forcing to the ground and handcuffing unarmed citizens, brought to mind a war zone, not the quiet college town of Chapel Hill. So it could be easy to dismiss the break-in and storm-in as an anomaly, a one-time occurrence.

What if it’s not? What if break-ins and raids were a weekly or even daily occurrence?

If the rhetoric of the Occupy movement on a national level is to be believed, that’s what could come next.

Michael Premo, a participant in New York’s Occupy Wall Street, was part of a conversation on the movement’s future that aired on Wednesday’s edition of “The Diane Rehm Show.”

Premo said the movement “is organizing for a national day of action, which will happen in early December … where we will begin to organize coordinated eviction defenses as well as liberating foreclosed homes.”

He went on to define liberating as taking over the properties not for protesters, but families, “and defending the right of those people to have a home.

“We are developing legal arguments that will support people in courts … We will also defend those properties through the will of the community to stand and take arrest if it means keeping a family in a home.”

Similar occupations have already happened in places like San Francisco, Minneapolis and Cleveland. And a group in Florida called Take Back the Land has been putting families in vacant homes since 2008.

The demonstrators who broke into the vacant car dealership on Franklin weren’t officially connected to Occupy Chapel Hill. Instead, the offending protestors define themselves as anti-capitalists, anarchists or metaphysical nihilists.

There is, though, cross-pollination between the group’s members. And there are shared ideas with the Occupy movement, too.

Participants in the Occupy Chapel Hill encampment at Peace and Justice Plaza said their groups shouldn’t be expected to participate in such “liberations.” But it was pointed out that each member is an individual with different views and can act on his or her own as some did during the Franklin Street break-in.

When it comes to these residences, police intervention might not be the same as it was on Franklin Street. With break-ins or occupations in homes, the responsibility falls on the current owner to protect the property or alert the police.

A quick Google search shows about 60 foreclosed residential properties in Chapel Hill. Take a drive down Franklin Street, and you’ll see multiple vacant storefronts.

And what’s that over there? Another empty property: Greenbridge.

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