CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) – Attendees of an anarchist book fair teamed with Occupy Chapel Hill to break into a vacant car dealership that they wound up occupying during the weekend.
Eight Occupy Chapel Hill protesters were arrested and charged for misdemeanor breaking and entering after about 70 total protesters and anarchists moved into a former Chrysler car dealership building to continue occupying on Saturday. The Charlotte Observer reports that Chapel Hill police rushed the empty building Sunday afternoon, transferring the eight people to a bus bound for the police station.
“Along with facilitating citizens’ ability to exercise their constitutional rights, it is also a critical responsibility of all levels of government in a free society to respond when rights of others are being impinged upon,” Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said in a statement. “This weekend a group of protesters broke into and entered a privately owned building in downtown Chapel Hill. … The town has an obligation to the property owners, and the town will enforce those rights.”
The town is already trying to handle the Occupy Chapel Hill group that has camped outside a post office since Oct. 15. Police say they don’t plan to interfere with that sect of protesters as long as they continue to allow access to the building. But Chapel Hill Police Lt. Kevin Gunter said the anarchists helped escalate the situation.
“Officers also learned that strategies used by anarchists in other communities included barricading themselves in buildings, placing traps in buildings, and otherwise destroying property,” Gunter said in a statement. “The group in the … building used large banners to obscure the windows to the business and strategically placed members on the roof as look-outs.”
The group, which has identified itself as “anti-capitalist occupiers,” admitted that it broke the law by entering the vacant Chrysler building, but is proposing a new use for the space, whether it be a free clinic, a kitchen, or a child care service, among other ideas.
“Make no mistake: this occupation is illegal,” the flier stated, “as are most of the other occupations taking place around the U.S., as were many of the other acts of defiance that won the little freedom and equality we appreciate today.”
Messages left by CBS Charlotte for the Chapel Hill police and Occupy Chapel Hill were not immediately returned.