On Saturday, November 12, following the Carrboro anarchist book fair, 50-75 people occupied a building that had sat empty for a decade. Participants distributed leaflets proposing that the space should be turned into a social center serving the community and offering a floor plan of what that could look like. A joyous show and dance party ensued, attended by 100 or more locals of many walks of life. While movies and footage from the Occupy Oakland protests were projected onto the walls, people set up a kitchen, a reading library, and sleeping areas. Two dozen people stayed overnight, while others sat up outside keeping watch.
The following afternoon, as people were cleaning up the building to prepare it for its new role, police brandishing assault rifles carried out a massive raid. Seven people were arrested and many more detained, including journalists and legal observers; officers pointed guns in their faces and forced them to lie on the ground. Several blocks of Franklin Street, Chapel Hill’s primary artery, were shut down for over an hour. In response, a large crowd gathered across the street chanting “Shame!”, “Chapel Hill to Seattle – Cairo to Greece – Say it loud! Say it proud! FUCK THE POLICE” and “Police, Police, the Army of the Rich!” The city bus requisitioned by police to hold protesters bore a Wells Fargo advertisement on the side.
Only a few hours later, a solidarity march of approximately 75 outraged people took the streets of downtown Chapel Hill, marching around the main thoroughfares of the city center. Chanting “Occupy Everything” and “We’ll Be Back,” they carried black flags and banners reading “Under Capitalism We’re All Under Gunpoint” and “Fight Back.” Some held signs proclaiming “Pigs Gonna Pay” and “All Cops Are Bastards.” The majority of the participants were dressed in black bloc attire; many supporters and curious passers-by followed behind.
The march was followed by a benefit show for the arrestees, attended by well over 100 people, at which Chapel Hill locals and visitors from around North Carolina expressed their passionate support for the those attacked by the police, for the occupation of the building, and for the worldwide movement against capitalism and police repression.
This immediate response to the police attack shows that people in North Carolina will not be intimidated by violent repression. Anarchists and other activists in Carrboro/Chapel Hill are calling for solidarity actions around the world to show that this movement will only grow stronger in response to attacks.