Occupy Santa Cruz Stands Firm In Vacant Bank Building

SANTA CRUZ (KCBS) – Santa Cruz police tried unsuccessfully overnight to remove a group of Occupy demonstrators who barricaded themselves inside a vacant bank building on Wednesday.

The protesters have vowed to remain in the former Coast Commercial Bank building across the river from the Occupy Santa Cruz encampment, saying they need it as a shelter for the winter.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

“Not only do we have electricity and running water, and heat for that matter, but it’s a place to sleep where there’s less chance we can get sick,” said a spokeswoman for the group who identified herself as Desiree.

A lone demonstrator kept watch from the building’s roof above a misspelled banner that reads “Oocupy Everything” as Desiree climbed over a pile of desks and chairs for the interview.

The word “Occupied” was scrawled across the red “available” on the real estate agent’s sign out front, and the bank’s windows were covered with butcher paper.

The group took over the building after a rally outside a nearby Chase Bank to protest predatory lending protesters said led to the foreclosure crisis.

Police confronted by a wall of protesters opted for safety reasons not to remove the demonstrators for trespassing as the owner of the vacant building requested, said Officer Zach Friend, spokesman for the Santa Cruz Police Department.

Friend said no other demonstrators would be allowed inside while police tried to negotiate a peaceful end.

“We’ll try an open dialogue. If that doesn’t work, at some point we’re unfortunately going to have to go to the next stage,” he said, adding police have avoided confrontations with the Occupy encampment for nearly 6 weeks.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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