(04-01) 17:57 PDT San Francisco — A group of marchers led by Occupy movement protesters has entered a vacant building at Turk and Gough streets in San Francisco, claiming the property as a “permanent occupation” and refuge for homeless people in the city.
The group entered the building at about 5:45 Sunday evening, after marching there following a really at Union Square. Police were on the scene, but there were no immediate arrests or confrontation.
The march, which numbered a few hundred, was peaceful along the route. Marchers were playing music, chanting slogans and carrying signs saying “House Keys Not Handcuffs” as police officers looked on and blocked traffic.
When marchers reached the building, a two-story commercial structure at 888 Turk Street, they were met by activists dressed in black who had already entered the building and allowed them inside.
The march followed an afternoon rally in Union Square. The event, described in a press release as “poor people play April Fool’s prank on Union Square,” was promoted as part of a supposed 12-city April Fool’s Day action designed to “demonstrate poor peoples’ right to exist in public space.”Speakers protested laws that keep homeless people from sitting, lying down, hanging out “and-perhaps worst of all-sleeping,” organizers said. They claimed that citations for offenses like these comprised “roughly one third of all prosecuted offenses in San Francisco at the end of 2011.” Paul Boden, one of the organizers, told the crowd at Union Square that area businesses “are targeting poor people as being bad for business. If you ain’t shopping, they don’t want you around here.”
Before leaving Union Square, those assembled were joined by a contingent from Occupy Oakland, who arrived on an old AC Transit bus. The bus, decorated with graffiti and fitted with a screen door at its entrance, followed the marchers along the route.
Benny Evangelista is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. email@example.com