leslie.jpg12:50 PM (Bay City News): Police have entered a vacant residential hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood and are working to remove a group of homeless advocates who took over the building Sunday, a police spokesman said.

“The trespassers have erected various types of obstacles and blockades inside the building,” Sgt. Mike Andraychak said.

The group is believed to have broken into the Leslie Hotel at Eddy and Larkin streets at about 5 p.m. Sunday, he said.

Police made entry late this morning and began clearing the obstacles room by room from the six-story building after attempts to negotiate with the group failed, Andraychak said.

As of about 12:30 p.m., no arrests had been made.

12:30 PM: According to a press release posted to Indybay.org, at around 5 pm Sunday night, over 100 people from the Creative Housing Liberation, occupied the vacant Leslie Hotel after a rally at Civic Center. The takeover at 587 Eddy Street, occurred on the first international World Homeless Day, to protesting what activists say are the 15,000 homeless people in San Francisco,that could be occupying 36,000 vacant units across the city.

The group that has occupied the hotel is mostly made up of immigrants, the homeless, community leaders, families, and children.

According to Michael Steinberg, the Liberation chanted “Homes Not Jails/Food Not Bombs” and “Housing Is a Human Right, In These Streets We Take This Fight,” while walking down Larkin Street. Once they reached the Leslie Hotel, they found the electricity and water still on, a working elevator, and carpeted floors, despite the fact that a nearby corner store owner admitted the building has been vacant for almost two years. “These people (the assembled outside) are my customers. I’d be doing better business if people lived in the building,” he said.

The activists have decorated the vacated building with colorful protest signs spelling out their cause, some reading “Empty homes are for people too” and “Affordable housing RIP.”

The police eventually showed up last night, blocking the entrance of the hotel to keep anyone else from joining in on the takeover. They taped off the block, preventing the 31 bus from driving down Eddy Street. “You guys do your thing, but send someone to come and talk to me,” said San Francisco Police Lt. Joseph Engler. In response, a masked member of the Liberation talked to the police from the second floor of the building, but refused to fully cooperate. According to police spokesperson Sgt. Mike Andraychak, officers tried to contact the group but were told, “We’re not coming out.”

According to The Ex, police reported that the activists are likely to only be cited if they agree to leave, with more serious charges brought against them only if the hotel is found to be damaged. Standard police procedure would be for officers to notify the property owner to see if the owner authorizes police to arrest the occupants,
Andraychak said. According to Steinberg, the owner of record is Soma Development Company.

This morning, SFPD says they have given the Creative Housing Liberation time to make their point and receive media attention, but that they are preparing to scour each of the 68 rooms to remove anyone who will not leave.

Miguel Carrera, a spokesman for the group, said this morning that there were 18 people inside the building, and that they would remain there until police remove them. No arrests had been made as of late this morning.

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