Police arrest 13 as Occupy D.C. supporters take over Franklin School building

November 20, 2011

Police arrested 13 people Saturday evening inside an abandoned historic building in downtown Washington after sympathizers of the Occupy D.C. movement took over the former homeless shelter.

The protesters, bandannas on their faces, entered the city-owned Franklin School about 3 p.m. and hung banners from the roof, reading “Public Property Under Community Control” and “Franklin for the 99 percent.”

About 200 Occupy D.C. supporters quickly gathered around the school, at 13th and K streets, as dozens of police officers arrived.

After a three-hour standoff, D.C. firefighters broke through a door, and police entered.

Louis P. Cannon, chief of D.C. Protective Services Police Department, which provides security at city buildings, said those arrested were charged with unlawful entry, a misdemeanor.

About 100 protesters formed a human chain in the alley behind the building. Cannon said officials “negotiated” with them to avoid further arrests.

The school, which opened in 1869, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was most recently a homeless shelter but was shuttered in 2008.

City officials have said they hope to have the building privately developed. Protesters said it should be kept for the public, perhaps to reopen as a homeless shelter.

“This building is not surplus, and we won’t allow the city to give it away or turn it into a boutique hotel,” said Abigail DeRoberts, a member of Free Franklin.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.
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