The Franklin School building in DC was occupied today.
The building was being used as a homeless shelter until 2008, when the city closed it down just before winter. The plan was to sell it to a developer who would turn it into a boutique hotel. Homeless advocates, including Eric Sheptock, fought like hell to stop the closure. You can read his story here.
It took about three hours for the police to pull the occupiers out of the building and haul them off. Until then, supporters did what they could to rally the crowd, document what was going down, and block the exits to make it a little more difficult for the police to get them out – at least not without witnesses.
It makes no sense, in a city with one of the highest populations of homeless people in the country, to have a building sitting vacant while people are sleeping on the streets.
A passerby, who asked us to explain what was going on, agreed. He was “one of the lucky ones” who was able to get a home voucher before they cut the local rent supplement program. He commented that, in other cities, people said occupiers were violent, inferring that was not the case tonight. I said, “They always make it look like that.” Let’s see if that will be the case tonight.
Below are some pics I took.
* Update: Read the statement from Free Frankin DC