Housing Complex

Occupiers Take Over Franklin School

Banner from K Street NW. (Lydia DePillis)

At 2:00 p.m. this afternoon, an indeterminate number of people entered the historic Franklin School at 13th and K Street NW to protest the 2008 closure of a homeless shelter in the building. As of this posting, police are still trying to figure out how to oust them. Watch a livestream here.

The building has been vacant for three years now, as the city has mulled disposing of it to developers, to protest from community members who would like to see it used for social services or education. Homeless advocates also sued the city in Superior Court for closing the shelter, even though the administration of former mayor Adrian Fenty had promised to put all of its occupants in permanent supportive housing. The city issued requests for proposals to redevelop the building in 2003 and 2009, receiving only one response last time, and is preparing to issue another.

According to homeless activist Eric Sheptock, homeless people have continued to use the building, which isn't exactly secure—you can get in by hopping a wrought iron fence in an alley.

The action highlights how Occupy D.C. has served as a base of operations for local activist causes, including infrastructure and jobs, to an extent that I haven't noticed in other cities. More photos after the jump.

UPDATE: Eleven protesters were removed from the building by 7:15 p.m., the Post and DCist report.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    off with their heads

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    Do these yip-yips know that the alleged "1%" are the private philanthropic segment of our beneficent society that help fund programs from early family literacy to drug treatment programs? If my numbers are right, the 19 of the top 20 of the world's largest foundations are based in the United States --- a result of the "evil 1%" who follow Carnegie's creed of the Gospel of Wealth. From Bill & Melinda Gates to Annie E. Casey to Ford to etc. these organizations largely support the existence of and services offered by the social welfare / redemptive programs that these "99%" so laud. Private wealth funds largely help to fund many of these programs, it is not exclusively the work of an all knowing Big Brother gov't. These people are wearing out their welcome. The Tea Party folks come into town for a day or two but then have to get back to where they came from to return to their blue collar jobs. The occupy people camp out for weeks because they are the products of white upper-middle class trust fund society. I would take white working class frustration with govt eights days of the week over the naive white guilt anger at the so-called "fat cats" who fund the social programs they cry out for more of.

  • Davison Peters

    The Franklin School is a great example of community activism gone wrong. Why?

    The "activists" decry cutting the social services budget (despite its annual growth and poor outcomes), yet when a proposal is on the table to redevelop a building to not only bring in revenue (for said social programs) and to bring to live a dead part of downtown, they just won't hear of it. Let's keep it a crappy homeless warehouse instead!

    If these Occupy folks knew a thing about DC or Franklin, they would start selling burritos on Phish tour to raise the $20-30 million needed to renovate it.

    As long as the "activists" continue their misguided ways, the building will sit vacant, the city will lose out on tax $$$ that these folks cry about the loss of, and our downtown will keep these dead zones.

  • Ann Wilcox

    It's interesting because at the US Social Forum, held in Detroit in June 2010, we were told that Detroit has become a city "run" by the Foundation community. Large foundations have their hand in public schools, housing and community development. (of course, Ford is conveniently located in Detroit). Is that really the way to build a new society? Or should it be through community coops, locally-grown food, and worker-owned enterprises??

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  • get it straight

    i don't know her, but i just became a huge ann wilcox fan.

  • http://www.ericsheptock.com Eric Jonathan Sheptock

    Cap City and DP,

    As the goat-man in Disney's Hercules (voiced by Danny DeVito) told Hercules, "Will you stop the head-chopping thing!" Let everybody keep their head and you keep yours too (despite their apparent malfunctions).

    Just to be clear, the preservation of social programs is neither the only nor the primary goal of the Occupy Movement. It is your interpretation of their intentions which is misguided. And, since your statements are prefaced on that misunderstanding, they are now moot and irrelevant. Don't be so quick to prejudge, lest you end up looking like fools.

    That said, OWS is angry about the virtual money chute that runs from the U.S. Crapitol to Wall Street. However, it is a growing movement and, as more people join, the balance of ideas changes. It has already metamorphosed (morphed) into anger over the failures of our system -- minimum wage that doesn't match the cost of living (even without any extras), student loans that take a lifetime to repay, healthcare costs that are enough to make you sick, endless war that kills civilians in other countries in order to "save the lives of Americans" (and get OUR oil from under another country's soil). They are not asking for the right to be lazy, but rather that working 40 hours per week be enough to make ends meet. And people of color want the same economic opportunities as others.

    It may be the 1% who provide much of the funding for the social programs which DP admits have poor outcomes. But remember that non-profits and social programs are often designed/funded in order to keep the lid on the pressure cooker. The government and the 1% throw a few crumbs at the 99% so that they'll "be satisfied and shut up", thus enabling the gov and 1% to proceed unchallenged with their greedy practices. These programs have rendered poor outcomes in at least 2 ways. They have become insufficient to keep the masses silent and sated. They have also failed to serve their most rational purpose -- tiding people over until the system is fixed so as to enable all working people to make ends meet. Social programs should serve as fall-back for those who've fallen on hard times. After afforded people some temporary security, the government should trace societal ills to their very roots and address those problems -- beginning with crapitalism and wealth inequality -- and solve those problems, thus eliminating the continued need for those social programs. Social programs have failed to serve as a way to tide people over until the problems in our society are solved...because the government hasn't solved those problems in the meantime.

    Now, do you understand the goals of the movement?
    P.S. I know Ann Wilcox. She's cool.

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