SANTA CRUZ -- Demonstrators were still occupying a former bank on River Street even as many in the community become increasingly frustrated by it.
"I'm just concerned that it seems like the situation is kind of out of control," said Peter Cook, a Santa Cruz resident and business owner. "it makes me worried because it seems like police have kind of lost control of the situation." The City Council and the mayor's office issued a release Friday morning condemning the break-in and occupation of 75 River St., which now has its own Facebook page and Twitter feed, @75River.
"We believe it's a misguided, ineffective and illegal form of protest," the city officials stated in the release. "The actions of these few individuals are deeply troubling and violate the trust and well-being of our community."
The council and the mayor say the city police department has their full support to enforce the law and resolve the situation in a way that protects the safety of both officers and citizens.
Thirty police officers clad in riot gear confronted the occupiers Wednesday evening but eventually backed off because of what police spokesman Zach Friend has characterized as safety concerns. The police were met by about 180 demonstrators, both in and outside the building, many of whom linked arms, forming a human chain to try to push police out.
"I'm surprised not to see more police presence there," said Cook. "A little more swift action I think could have been merited."
The group that took over the building describes itself as an autonomous, anonymous organization working in solidarity with Occupy Santa Cruz, which continues to maintain an encampment in San Lorenzo Park and outside the county courthouse steps.
The group says it took over the building because it formerly housed a bank, and its symbolic of growing national frustration over the economy, the foreclosure crisis and bank bailouts. They want to turn it into a community space and safe place for those needing somewhere to go.
While some members of the community have been supportive, bringing sandwiches to the group and honking approval as they drive past, others are angry that they've entered private property and taken it over.