On the 12th of July, the defendants who went to trial for the November
19th takeover of Franklin School/shelter were found "guilty," but the
judge gave them a very light sentence.
The sentence the judge gave the defendants was a $50 payment to the
crime victims' fund; 5 day suspended jail time, 3 months unsupervised
probation. The judge rejected a prosecution request for a community
service sentence, saying most of the defendants' activities were in fact
Meanwhile, the defendants, their supporters, and other activists are in
effect warning developers NOT to buy the Franklin School if it ever is
offered for sale by the city. One of the defendants bluntly stated (end of video) that
it would always be either a homeless shelter or vacant, as developers
won't want to buy a building that could be retaken by activsts at any
time and has this sort of history. As a historic building, it cannot be
demolished, so it would remain in existance and remain a focus of
shelter activism even after any such sale.
Franklin has been taken over three times over the
hypothermia/homelessness issue. In 2002 MAYDAY DC took it over, causing
it to be opened at first as a hypothermia shelter only. It later became a
full time shelter after former Mayor Williams tried to close it in
2003, earning a second takeover by MAYDAY DC.
After the closure of Franklin Shelter by former Mayor Fenty, city
officials thought they could declare the building "surplus" and sell it
to a developer. At a 2010 hearing on the subject with developers
present, I warned them in person that the building had been taken over
twice and did they want to go for three times. On November 19, 2011,
Free Franklin backed by Occupy DC made that promise a reality.
Now, with the trial of those defendants who went to a jury trial over,
ending in light sentences only, Franklin still sits vacant and the
hundreds of homeless men who used to sleep there must still sleep in the
streets. What is next for Franklin? The Free Franklin Support Committee
says "Whatever today's verdict, the city remains guilty of leaving
public buildings empty as people sleep outside them."
In: Other News
Tags: Franklin School, Franklin Shelter, DC, civil disobediance, homelessness, Occupy DC
Location: Washington, District of Columbia, United States (load item map)
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