Homes Not Jails protesters released

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PHOTO BY PETER MENCHINI

This article has been updated

Nineteen Homes Not Jails protesters who were arrested last night and held on felony charges of vandalism, conspiracy and burglary, many on bail as high as $325,000, have been released.

Their charges have not been dropped. Instead, those arrested have been "discharged pending further investigation," according to District Attorney spokesperson Stephanie Ong Stillman.

Friends and supporters say that they spent the day calling the office of District Attorney George Gascón, asking him to release the demonstrators.

The arrests were made during a protest marking World Homeless Day. It involved opening and entering a vacant building at 535 Castro St. The building, a commercial ground floor space and second floor apartments, has been vacant seven years. It's owned by Les Natali, who also owns the vacant Patio Cafe next door as well as several other neighborhood properties.

Homes Not Jails has been protesting landlords who let properties lie vacant since it was founded in 1992. Many in the group were surprised with the charges leveled against those arrested last night,

"My understanding is that after 2008, these actions usually resulted in misdemeanor charges," said longtime housing rights advocate and Castro resident Tommi Avicolli Mecca.

Mecca said he was surprised at the police response to the protest. At least 80 police officers gathered outside Dolores Park and observed a rally that took place yesterday. They then escorted the march and closed the street, lining up in riot gear, as protesters entered the building. 

"Homes Not Jails has absolutely no history of violence," said Mecca.

Stillman said that the DA's office could not go into details about the reasoning for the charges and bail amount, as they cases are under ongoing investigation.

Comments

Did he think they'd just ignore trespass and home invasion? Really?

I'd be interested to see who put up 325K in bail bonds.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

...noone put up the 325K in bail. It wasn't necessary because the charges were trumped way up and ridiculous. We all got released because our friends gave enough of a damn to inundate the mayor's office with phone calls of support and because there's no way they could make what they charged us with stick. "Trespassing" wasn't even on the list. They had us on felony burglary (there was nothing in this place to burgle), conspiracy to commit a crime (whatever the hell that is...if you press the gas to get through a yellow light, you are conspiring to commit a crime), and vandalism more than $400 (the only things damaged inside were damaged by the police when they attacked). So, no, we didn't have to pay to get released on false charges.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 8:50 am

home that wasn't yours. There may end up being no prosecution but you cannot credibly argue that you committed no crime.

Given the public hostility to your occupation, and the cheers that greeted the cops when they went in, is it possible that you might think twice before breaking into another home. There are other ways to make a political point without resorting to criminal behavior.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 8:56 am

There were no felonies committed in this instance, the charges were intended as a SLAPP criminal equivalent by authoritarians to discourage even the appearance of ineffective resistance.

The only crime committed here is one of insanity, doing the same thing over and again but expecting a different result each time while the outcomes go in the other direction.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 9:00 am

property you may want to consider that the homeowner may be armed and would be entirely justified in emptying a couple of wide-blash shotgun shells into your ass.

You people are no different than anti-abortion protestors who occupy and destroy clinics and perhaps the judiciary needs to think about the same remedy against you and your friends which was used against those protestors - they were kept in jail, permanently, until they promised not to engage in trespassing again. You may get away with this shit in Oakland but you're not going to get away with it here.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 10:43 am

Wide-blash shotgun shells?! Whoa! Troll II, you obviously have some real anger issues that make Ross Mirkarimi look positively angelic by comparison. Better get a handle on that before you end up in the pokie yourself.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

Or did you think smashing your way into someone's abode is usually met with flowers and gingerbread snaps?

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

That's often the case that the self-righteous "law and order" people who hate on protesters for "breaking the law" are the first to spew bile and venom and imply or insinuate violence, malice or breaking the law themselves as retribution to the protesters. They fail to see their own hypocrisy. And no, they are not likely to get a handle on it. They have to first admit they have a problem. That ain't going to happen. They're septic. They're sick and they often use a screen name with the word "troll" in it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

lillipublicans. Did you lose Internet service again and are forced to hang out at the library poor dear?

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

And I agree, Troll II is one sick little troll. To insinuate/ threaten anyone with violence is completely unacceptable. To Troll II, I would say, Get help! Perhaps Mirkarimi's shrink has an opening in his schedule.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

Vacant or not it's someone's property. Next time think twice unless you want an ass full of buckshot - something, I might add, any property owner is entirely justified in carrying out to defend themselves and their property. These miscreants, these extremist elements of Occupy, have been coddled for long enough. It's time for them to feel the fist.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

Really, get help. I hear there's still room in Mirkarimi's counseling group for class-A abusers.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

Let me tell you without breaking our confidentiality rules - it's all FAR worse than it seems ;-)

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

Of course it is now that you're in there. I bet they're reaching for the migraine excedrins by the 500mgs, 4x/day.

"I'm already in it"

Well it ain't working. Have them come on here and read the crap you've written and they'll see that it ain't working.

People can only do so much with what they have to work with.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

remember this link so you can rub Troll II's face in it

Posted by Guest on Oct. 14, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

you have illegally entered it. Somebody owns that building and, while they may live somewhere else (as they are perfectly entitled to do) they may well be there visiting, fixing things or whatever.

If I own a building I am entitled to do whatever I want with it, which includes leaving it vacant at times if I so choose. And remember, the Ellis Act came along precisely because a city tried to force property owners to not leave their properties empty.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 11:13 pm

Hello. Please ignore the smug-assed, always nasty, chip-on-both-shoulders, preachy, lecturing, I've-never-broken-the-law-for-any-purpose, corporatist, status-quo, pro-1% comments (i.e. drivel) from the trolls with a miserable life of Troll Central™ (the comment below is an example).

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

As long as you're one of the 99%?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 11:13 pm

Assuming you were actually one of the morons arrested, do yourself a favor and educate yourself by looking up the sections you were charged with. You're so ignorant, it borders on being truly sad. Spoiler alert: burglary doesn't require theft. All charges were totally appropriate and I hope the DA proceeds on them.

I'm sure the people gathered outside who were cheering the police as they gave you the boot would agree with that as well. If only you could have been outside as the locals scoffed at having to put up once again with the children of Neverland who refuse to grow up.

Posted by Guest23 on Oct. 13, 2012 @ 11:53 am

"Mecca said he was surprised at the police response to the protest."

Well, you know nothing else was going on in the City. In a City where no crimes of any kind ever take place at any given hour, what else were they (SFPD) supposed to do to earn their generous salary? They had to make it look like they were doing something. So they decided to come to the Castro "for a show of force" to deal with a few protesters.

Sigh.

(Sarcasm aside.)

Yes, the response was way overblown. Some people on the sidewalk were commenting on how many cops (including bicycle cops) there were for just a few protesters. Was that really needed some people were asking. It was really the SFPD who blocked the street; not the protesters. The protesters could have been dealt with on the sidewalk. There was no need to close that one block.

Considering the police state we're now living in under George W. Obama, I don't know why Mecca was surprised at the response. He's well-intentioned, but a little naïve at times.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 1:16 am

year, I don't think the general public would be too shocked that the cops want to step in early to negate that risk. And Mecca should surely have known that. What else did he expect?

The fact is that this was a forced home invasion with a very real risk of vandalism and property damage. I think you'll find that a majority of SF'ers, who have worked hard to be able to afford to live here, disapprove of people just gatecrashing any house they want en masse and by force.

No? Well then how about I break into your home and live there. Fair?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 2:16 am

to stop letting these children run wild.

It's also comical the conspiracy ravings of some commenters.

We live in a police state because we the average citizen doesn't feel inclined to let the city be run by stunted man-children with a revealed agenda. These complaints from the clowning anarcho-left are up there with black helicopters and chem trail ravings of the right.

The SF moonbats have met the far right that they used to spend so much time complaining about.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

The story says that the building that Homes Not Jails entered had been abandoned and vacant for seven years.

Yet commenters here keep insisting that the building was instead someone's home.

Apparently you cannot both (1) oppose the actions of Homes Not Jails; and (2) know how to read.

If you people want to make Homes Not Jails look intelligent by comparison, it's working.

Posted by Dan Clore on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

used as a home, used for some other purpose, or currently vacant. It's somebody else's building; not yours.

If you want to provide free housing for the homeless, why don't you buy a house and then let them live there for free? Why not share your current home with them? What are you waiting for?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 11:16 pm

First, if it doesn't matter whether the building was being used as a home or left vacant and abandoned for seven years, then why did so many posters alter the facts?

Second, it doesn't help to assert a property claim, when the issue at hand is whether that claim is valid or invalid. The Homes Not Jails people seem to believe, for one thing, that property that has been unused and abandoned for seven years should be considered open for homesteading.

I suspect that the Homes Not Jails argument makes more sense to a lot of people, hence the need to switch from an absentee owner of a unused and abandoned property to a home lived in by the homeowner.

Third, I am not involved with Homes Not Jails in any way, so I cannot answer questions about their tactics for them.

Posted by Dan Clore on Oct. 13, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

The former is a temporary state; the latter implies a permanent state.

The former cannot be known for certain; a fortiori, neither can the latter.

All you can know is that you "think" a building is unused. But to know for sure, you have to enter, which is a crime. So the basic premise of HNJ is flawed.

There is currently no law that says that an owner has to use a building. An owner is 100% free to leave it empty and use it only at some future time, or sell it, or whatever. It quite simply is nobody else's business.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2012 @ 11:39 pm

how long it was vacant. The property has an owner, the owner has legal and moral title to the property - therefore the miscreants who occupied it should be jailed and no one would blame the owner if he did take action to defend his property - it is, after all, his.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 13, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

i can't tolerate anymore the homeless defecating in the streets, the naked guys sticking their junk in my faces, the anarchists breaking windows in my neighborhood. i think maybe only mitt romney will give me my neighborhood back.

i have lived in san fracisco all my life and i never in my life did i think i would vote for a republican. what have our local "progressive" politicans given us? the homeless industry? the rent-controlled industry? all the while, housing costs go sky-high and our neighborhoods become slums.

to all the people of oakland whose city has been taken over by thugs now and to all the people of san francisco whose city has been taken over by naked men waving their genitals in your face and breaking the windows of your small business owners, i say: vote conservative and let's see if things change.

i don't think the republicans and right wing of this country could have a better friend that the activists and anarchists of the bay area, whose strategy endears them to no one and only lead more and more of my neighbors and friends to say: enough is enough. we gave the progressives a chance and look what they have done.

to all you activists for public nudity and anarchy i say: by your actions you are not bringing anyone over to your cause but you are turning a lot of people off your cause. maybe you better rethink your strategy because i know i am not alone

Posted by walter j on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 11:25 am

If the land stolen from the native people then it's okay to sell that stolen property over and over even if the land was won with violence and murder but how dare someone want to put it to use when it's been left unattended. Oh wait, was the reason we took the land in the first place? Oh yeah those dirty natives and or Mexicans weren't utilizing the lands so it's our god given right to take it. Or was it something else?
Oh those god awful bums, the dirty mass of stinking mentally ill self medicating with drugs and booze, those disabled wheel chaired victims of disinterest sleeping as they soak in their own urine because there's a lack of funding to care for our own. Yes, wouldn't it be better just to 'remove the problem" then to be the real Christians many of you that hide in your moral security keep saying. Can't just throw money at the problem either but don't go too far out of your way and do something Christ like. Yes it's easy when the crime fits your needs, to look the other way but when it ruffles your pretty fluffy feathers you get all flustered and nay say the issue. Try again, you're being watched.

Posted by Sean Deluge on Apr. 07, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

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