A group of “anti-capitalist occupiers,” some associated with the Occupy Chapel Hill encampment downtown, moved into a vacant car dealership on Franklin Street Saturday night.
The group has hung banners on the former Chysler building at 419 W. Franklin St. that say “Occupy” and “Everything” from dormer windows and signs across the former showroom’s windows.
The building owned by out-of-town businessman Joe Riddle has stood empty for many years. Demonstrators say they have moved into the space in the tradition of working-class squatters’ movements around the world that inspired the Occupy Wall Street movement and its offshoots across the United States.
The group has printed a flier that envisons a new possible use for the space that includes a free clinic, kitchen, child care, library and dormitories, among other uses.
“This place has been a box of air for over a decade,” said Amanda Ashley of Carrboro. “That’s what capitalism does.”
“We are not taking no anymore,” she continued. “Literally this (building) is a piece of trash. It’s a big soda bottle. We’re recycling it. How can that be wrong?”
Efforts to reach the Chapel Hill Police Department for comment were unsuccessful. Demonstrators said several police officers entered the building Saturday night but quickly left.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said he was unaware of the protest and would need to learn more before commenting.
A statement from the demonstrators declared the initial occupation to be the work of “ autonomous anti-capitalist occupiers,” rather than Occupy Chapel Hill, but said the effort has drawn the involvement of many Occupy Chapel Hill participants, who have been camped outside the post office on a site the town calls peace and Justice Plaza since Oct. 15.
About a dozen tents remain on the plaza. Police had previously said they did not plan to intervene as long as the demonstrators allowed access to the building.