San Francisco police seize building from protesters, 26 arrested

Reuters News
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Posted: May 02, 2012 2:38 PM
San Francisco police seize building from protesters, 26 arrested

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Police in riot gear raided a vacant San Francisco building before dawn on Wednesday, arresting 26 people and taking the structure back from demonstrators who seized it the night before after a May Day march.

The building, owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, was the site of a previous failed attempt by protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement to take over the vacant structure a month before.

On the Occupy SF website, demonstrators had called the building they seized a commune and said they planned to offer workshops, guest speakers and food.

Officers entered the building in a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday to clear the structure, San Francisco police spokesman Sergeant Daryl Fong said.

The San Francisco Bay area was the scene of May Day demonstrations attended by hundreds of people on Tuesday, as similar protests roiled cities across the United States in what organizers said was a show of support for organized labor and opposition to income inequality.

Some marches devolved into vandalism and mayhem, including in Seattle where black-clad anarchists smashed windows.

At the vacant San Francisco building, aside from the 26 people arrested for trespassing, police held two dogs that were turned over to animal control workers, Fong said. The demonstrators had moved into the building on Tuesday night after marching through city streets, he said.

The archdiocese once used the building as a mental health facility, television station CBS San Francisco reported. At one point before the raid, there may have been as many as 200 demonstrators in the building, the station said.

The police raid occurred with no violence or injuries, Fong said. In January, an attempt by Occupy demonstrators to hold a vacant hotel turned violent, as they threw Bibles and furniture at officers below, police said.

(Reporting by Emmett Berg; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)