Tonight Occupy SF, through the OccupySF Commune, has inhabited a vacant building on Turk St. for the purpose of creating a community center in the spirit of this building's original intention – to create a center for health and healing.
In a city with ten thousand homeless people and thirty-two thousand vacant but habitable units, it is a crime against humanity that people are prevented from sleeping through the night as part of a political protest or as a basic human right. The city wants OccupySF and the homeless off the street – harassing, intimidating, and arresting us every night–so now we are inside creating a vibrant space for health, humanity, and free expression.
This building has been empty for five years and was previously a mental health clinic providing a valuable service to the community. Five years ago the Board of Supervisors cut the funding to this vital community center causing many people with mental illness to be put out on the street and become subject to arrest and harassment simply for now existing in these very same streets they were forced into. This funding cut was brought on by the international financial crisis caused by a corrupt banking system which profits off the backs of the 99%.
This Turk St. building is owned by the Church and the owners, therefore, pay no property tax for it. It has been vacant and unused for over five years and no services have been provided here. Further, the owners have failed to register the building as vacant, avoiding their duty to pay vacancy fees to the public coffers. The building is now occupied by a group of people willing to offer services such as food, housing, education, and community-building skills for free.
We assert our human rights to free expression, dissent, and 24-hour protest without undue harassment.