Occupy SF demonstrators who took over a building owned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco on Sunday said this morning they have no plans to leave.
The protesters entered the building at 888 Turk St. following a late-afternoon rally and march that began in downtown San Francisco on Sunday.
Police had the building surrounded this morning.
Protesters held a news conference around 9 a.m., but reporters initially had trouble accessing the event because police would not allow them across the street, and demonstrators were reluctant to leave the building.
Beth Seligman, an Occupy demonstrator who led the news conference, said the building has been vacant for five years.
Seligman said the group of demonstrators plans to turn the two-story building into a homeless shelter with medical services and food.
“We have a delegation attempting to make contact with the diocese,” she said. “The archdiocese won’t take immediate action.”
She estimated a couple hundred demonstrators were inside the building, and were planning to stay on the property indefinitely.
Occupy demonstrator Bruce Allison said police have asked the protesters to leave. Allison said it is up to the property owners to take that action.
“This is not a crime scene, according to state law,” Allison said.
Demonstrators have hung banners on the building including one reading, “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us out trespasses.”
Seneca Craig, a college student who left the site and was not allowed re-entry, said, “They haven’t allowed food in since 10 p.m. (Sunday). There’s not much food inside.”
One demonstrator walked onto the roof of the building around 8:30 a.m. and two police officers were monitoring the situation from a fire escape on a nearby apartment building.
Police Lt. Troy Dangerfield, who was at the scene this morning, said that anyone who exits the property will not be allowed to return, although at least one demonstrator who left the building did manage to get back inside.
Dangerfield said the original estimate of the number of people inside the building was 40.
George Wesolek, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said the building belongs to Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory High School. He said the building has not been used for classes in about 18 months.
“Whatever their agenda is, they are thrusting it on our property,” Wesolek said.
Wesolek said he doesn’t know how the protesters entered the building. He said he plans to let police take care of the situation and does not know why police are allowing the demonstrators to remain on the property.
“It does serve an urban population,” he said of the school. “Many of the children are from lower-income families. The use of the building is intended for that.”
“We have not been in contact with the occupiers, but we certainly would like them to leave,” Wesolek said.