A group of at least 50 protesters are demonstrating tonight near a vacant building in San Francisco’s Mission District.

A group calling themselves Mission Free State said in a statement that they planned to occupy a building at 1950 Mission St. starting at 9 p.m. and open it as a homeless shelter and free school.

The group said the occupation was a response to the planned closure of a homeless shelter at 150 Otis St., as well as state furloughs, budget cuts and elimination of programs at San Francisco State University and University of California at Santa Cruz.

Protesters gathered outside the building, and shortly after 9 p.m. they were met by more than a dozen police officers in riot gear.

Mohamud Shehk, a 21-year-old student from University of California at Davis, said the protest was a response to “the whole system we operate in.”

A witness saw police take Shehk into custody sometime around 9:30 p.m. Another man who said he was an Iraq War veteran was also arrested a short time earlier, according to witnesses.

One of the protesters apparently used a bike lock to break a window at a Wells Fargo bank near the intersection of 16th and Wiese streets, and what appeared to be smoke bombs were also thrown nearby.

A woman who said she was a student at California State University, Monterey Bay said “I think there’s a little bit of a lack of a message here.”

Shehk said before he was apparently arrested that the building, which formerly housed a school, was “not strategically or ideologically a good place to occupy.”

Photo: 0x0000org

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