The following is one account of the takeover of the building at 201 N. Greensboro St…
At approximately 3:30pm today, Feb. 4th, a group of about 50 demonstrators marched from a monthly Really Really Free Market to a nearby empty building owned by the CVS corporation.
Within minutes the crowd had taken over the building, hanging banners from the roof and windows, erecting tables outside with free food, and handing out welcome packets to passersby.
Others arrived with carpentry equipment, wood, furniture, a literature distro, and tools, and began building benches and tables. Some painted a large, cursive “Carrboro Commune @” and large squat symbols on the walls.
Still other supporters spread throughout the neighborhood, announcing the occupation and advertising an open neighborhood assembly in the building the following day.
The takeover, claimed by “anti-capitalists and occupiers” and done under the rubric of the “Carrboro Commune,” was aimed at holding the property permanently and building some kind of community or social center.
Eager to avoid the negative press and angry public backlash of an armed eviction of an occupied building late last year in neighboring Chapel Hill, police and the mayor were initially restrained. Unfortunately, the openness of the occupation towards random passersby also meant the Mayor himself was even in the building.
The occupation continued till around 7:30, after which police entered the building and began threatening arrests. A crowd of masked protesters left the building through a side door, chanting and carrying a banner to meet the crowd in front of the building. There were no arrests.
A bizarre scene then ensued in front of the building, where a large crowd of masked protesters, supporters, police, press, and local politicians packed together, screaming at each other in front of cameras. The mayor repeatedly tripped over his words, while some protesters cursed him and others gave speeches, chanted “ACAB”, and loudly vowed to return. One mainstream media outlet quoted Mayor Chilton as saying, “You’re full of crap,” in response to a masked person screaming about how impossible it is to survive in town on a service worker’s pay.
The Mayor’s sleek attempts to command the narrative of a peaceful de-occupation slowly started to slip away, eclipsed by the near violent hatred and frustration of a screaming crowd. The scene, which occurred in the busiest intersection of town in front of half a dozen cameras, was a bizarre shift for the supposedly tranquil and politically “conflict-free” small liberal town.
This is only a brief account by one participant. As of right now, we are still recovering from the last few hours, trying to figure out what went right and what went wrong. Certainly there will be a much more thorough account and analysis to come later; right now we would send our love and rage to all our comrades around the US and the world also struggling to reclaim a world that has been stolen from us.
We hope that our small efforts can inform and inspire others, and in particular offer some encouragement to our friends and comrades currently in jails on the West Coast, kidnapped for trying to also take back a future that has been stolen.