INCREASE IN EVICTIONS; UPSURGE IN RESISTANCE

**cross posted from rabble.org.uk**

DECEMBER 4, 2014

Just as the number of evictions in England and Wales soar to the highest levels since records began 14 years ago – up to 11,000 repossessions from July-September (that’s well over 100 per day) – it seems that housing struggles are also on the up again.

Map of London estates facing eviction

A show of solidarity prevented the eviction of a Newham mum and her three kids this morning, when a load of comrades confronted the bailiffs at the house, outnumbering them five to one. The bailiffs left and a meeting was arranged with the housing association, Notting Hill Housing, who agreed not to take any further action until January and to try and have the family re-homed in the borough asap.

Later in the day, a group called Lewisham Homeless Person’s Union confronted paper pushers and security guards at the council offices in Catford, demanding housing for the hundreds of homeless people in the borough. Security blocked access to most, but 3 people were able to meet with bureaucrats, the results if any of which are not yet known.

New Era 4 All is a campaign by residents of the New Era housing estate in Hoxton to keep their rents down. Tenancies there have been made more precarious since their homes were bought by the filthy rich scumbag private equity firm, Westbrook Partners, who are trying to raise rents there in line with market rates of the area, which would mean tenants paying around £2,400 a month. Residents and supporters marched to Westbrook’s offices in central London yesterday and handed them a petition to stop the rent hikes, supported by over 250, 000 signatures.

This new wave of energy is no doubt thanks in part to the tenacity and success of theFocus E15 mums campaign, which began after Newham Council cut funding to a hostel for vulnerable young mothers and their kids. The campaign led to the families getting re-homed in the borough and the creation of a temporary social centre from occupied homes on the Carpenters Estate, which became a hub of skill sharing and plotting for the two weeks of its existence. The Carpenters Estate itself is in the process of slowly being depopulated and demolished, but the publicity generated by the occupation led to some, short term, concessions being won – Newham Council agreed to house 40 people on the estate on a temporary basis.

We’ve also seen public sabotage from the Black Revs, who smothered anti-homeless spikes with concrete, while Class War picked a good target with 19 weeks of dogged protests against poor doors at the yuppie flats of One Commercial Street, forcing the owners into talks. In October, there was a roudy mobilisation against the MIPIM property fair/plunder in Kensington, as well as a counter conference.

The following month there was some good news for squatters too, as four more s144 defendants were acquitted when it proved too difficult for the prosecution to show that the property was designed or adapted for residential use before the occupation. See theAdvisory Service for Squatters for more on this.

Housing Action Lambeth & Southwark (HASL), who do grassroots solidarity work with people most screwed over by landlords, have issued a callout to support T and her family, who are facing homelessness by Southwark Council, at 2pm on Monday 8th at London Bridge. You can also join HASL’s eviction phone network here.

The E15 mums are holding a New Year’s Eve party to celebrate the energy, support and victories of the past year. They are inviting anyone who’d like to get active in this stuff and make more victories in 2015.

Successful eviction resistance this morning

ILLEGAL EVICTION OF PROTEST OCCUPATION

On 27th of November, 2014 the (A)nti-Social Centre was threatened with eviction. For 3 months the squatted space hosted numerous radical events such as the MIPIM counter-conference, anti-fascist, Student organising events, Radical Housing Network meetings, all sorts of fundraisers and info-nights.

On the day, the plan was to pre-empt the eviction by moving to other empty buildings nearby. These were three empty houses 5 minutes up the road on Argyle street that had an open window. They belong to the social housing landlord ‘One Housing Group’, that had allowed the properties to remain empty for some time despite the need for homes in the area.

The eviction of Guildford Street went ahead and the new occupation (24-28 Argyle Street, WC1) had barely started when on the evening of Saturday 29th November 2014 private security personnel – who had been seen around the property since almost the start of the occupation – moved in to forcefully and illegally evict the occupiers inside using a sledgehammer to break down one door. This was done in the presence of police who did nothing to prevent what appears to have been a criminal act by One Housing Group and Assured Guarding security services.

Check out the video.

ANTI-SOCIAL CENTRE EVICTION, OCCUPATION, EVICTION 27/11/14

Russell Sq, London: (A)nti-Social Centre successfully resists eviction, then evicted following morning

Russell Sq, London: (A)nti-Social Centre successfully resists eviction, then evicted following morning

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Update 28/11, 8am: After an urgent call for support, bailiffs gained access and evicted the space.

Update 27/11: Thanks everyone for making today possible. It was a great success if not a bit of a spectacle :) The new place is incredible and we want to have it up and running and filled with events as soon as possible. Watch this space!! Decent homes for all!!!

Callout 26/11: The Anti-Social Centre is re-occupied territory. A radical space that is home to community organizing, such as the Radical Housing Network counter-conference to MIPIM, Anti-Fascism, squat-network dinners, fundraisers for Zapatistas, No Borders, and more.

The centre has also been home to over 40 people, including families and asylum seekers, throughout its life. A fight for the Anti-Social Centre is not only a fight for accessible housing, but a fight against the privatization of public space for private use.

The fight for the Anti-Social Centre is also a fight against colonialism and capitalism. 66-67 Guilford Street is owned by the Rothschild Trust Corporation Limited, a purchase made possible from a colonial past. In England, the Rothschild family funded Cecil Rhodes expedition to colonize Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and continues to manage Rhode’s estate of stolen goods from around southern Africa. Leaving land destitute in Zimbabwe, the Rothschild Trust now wants to create destitution – for people and land – in London. Aided by the criminlization of residential squatting (§144 LASPO), the state and private corportations make housing increasingly inaccessible.

From the metropolis to the colony, we continue to fight against the colonial theft of land and the unceasing accumulation of capital.

Tel: +44 7542 202659
E: antisocialcentre [at] riseup [dot] net

 

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STOP EVICTIONS

BRIXTON SQUATTERS FIGHTBACK AGAINST EVICTION

 

Yesterday morning, Lambeth Council, the National Eviction Team and dozens of cops evicted 75 people from their homes in Rushcroft Road, Brixton. After 32 years, Lambeth Council has now decided to sell off the properties to estate agent giant and notorious tax dodger Foxtons. Fuelled by anger at the increasing gentrification of Brixton alongside Lambeth councils continuous failure to provide affordable housing, squatters, residents and locals put up a strong fight against the evictions.

A very excellent eyewitness account of yesterdays events can be found here.

And a Vice magazine article with some good pic’s here.

Although the evictions did go ahead, despite the resistance, all was not lost. Those who turned up in solidarity with the residents of Rushcroft Road sent the council a very clear message – ‘We will not go without a fight’. And with every eviction resistance, those involved becomes stronger and more united. The show of solidarity on Rushcroft Road yesterday, as with many other eviction resistances, really highlights the power of community. As Izzy put it in her eyewitness account, ‘ Looking back that evening at the days events people remarked what a strong resistance it was from a smallish group. It felt like some fucking feat to have kept them (the bailiffs) off so long, to have made their job so difficult, to defend the homes as best as we could. Just imagine what we could have done with even more people.’

Expect many more resistances like Rushcroft Road over the coming months.

 

 

SOUTH LONDON RESISTANCE + NEXT MEET-UP!

 

A 60 strong street party took place in South London this week to demonstrate against the eviction of a much loved community squat. On Monday morning, a resistance mobilised in front of the County Street squat – host to a number of grass roots benefit nights alongside the week long Open House Project. Beneath a ‘Homes Not Jails’ banner, people chatted and shared a breakfast of locally skipped food in the sunshine while bailiffs loitered in a side street. After a few hours, the bailiffs were seen leaving the area and much celebration was had by all. The forces of darkness were peacefully prevented from carrying out the eviction and the County Street Squat Collective remain safe in their home.

In other news, a new queer squatted social centre opened it’s doors last Saturday in SE11. Named ‘House of Brag’, the space will be open from June 11th – July 6th and has a jam packed schedule of events. Check out the blog here.

A new project gets under way called ‘Made Possible Through Squatting’. The project is seeking submissions that ‘collectively celebrate how squatting has positively affected the lives of individuals and communities in London’. The works will then be exhibited in London at the end of the year and published in an online archive. Find out more here.

Hackney Private renters group – DIGS – is holding a benefit night this Saturday at the Victoria Pub, E8. Expect a night of ‘.. groove, boom, soul shaking live performance and roof raising DJs’! All to raise funds for the great work that they do. More info here.

And finally: The next public eviction resistance meeting will be on Thursday 4th July, 7.30 – 9pm at the London Action Resource Centre, 62 Fieldgate Street E1. The meeting will be centred on discussing evictions, across tenure, and tactics we can use/develop to take action against them. If you, or your group, are interested then come along.

LONDON EVICTION RESISTANCE MEETUP

 

We’re pleased to announce that a London Eviction Resistance Meeting has been arranged for Thursday 6th June, 2013 at the London Action Resource Centre (LARC), 18.30 – 21.00pm. This meeting has been arranged after an overwhelming amount of interest in the idea of using direct action as a tactic against evictions and recognition of the need for London wide  solidarity with those threatened with eviction– regardless if they are private renters, social tenants or squatters.

After Unite Community’s NO eviction workshop and the eviction resistance workshop at the Open House event in May, this event is a great possibility to bring people from different backgrounds together and to plan next steps. The agenda of the meeting will be open to all those who come along.

LARC Address: 42 Fieldgate Street, e1 1es

OPEN HOUSE 2013

Open House 2013 opens it’s doors on Sunday the 12th of May – much needed collective organisation and action on the capitals housing crisis. There’s a jam packed schedule of events. Check out the website here: www.openhouse2013.com

We’ll see you there!

OPEN HOUSE

WEATHERLY’S LAW

A few weeks ago, we heard the tragic news that the new anti-squatting legislation (section 144 of the LASPO bill) had claimed it’s first life. Daniel Gauntlett, a 35 year old homeless man, froze to death in front of an empty, boarded up bungalow in Kent.  Reports state that the police prevented him from sheltering in the building by threatening  arrest under the new offence of squatting in a residential building. Not wishing to break the law, he gave up hope of getting out of the -2 freeze and bedded down on the porch of the building. As a result, he contracted hypothermia and lost his life. The full article can be read here.

Obviously, this has caused absolute outrage amongst squatters and others who warned the government that vulnerable people would face serious risks if squatting was criminalised. Sadly, those in power did not listen.

Here’s some of the responses to this awful, awful news:

A new website which, quite rightly, points the finger of blame at Mike Weatherly, the morally bankrupt Hove MP who pushed through this inhumane legislation.

Mike Weatherly’s  response to claims that he is personally responsible for Daniel Gauntlett’s death can be found here.

SQUASH campaigners wrote an open letter to Weatherly and The Argus to dispel some of the ridiculous misinformation that Weatherly spouts about squatters.

Labour Mp for Hays and Harlington, John Mc Donnell

People are being made unnecessarily homeless and very vulnerable people are suffering as a consequence. This legislation was based upon prejudice and has only made matters worse. This new evidence demonstrates so clearly the need to repeal this misguided law.’ John McDonnell MP.

Youtube’s angry taxi driver is reduced to tears in his response.

And finally, a news international blog post here.

 

Rest in peace Daniel Gauntlett. We will not forget you.

 

FIRST SQUATTASTIC OF 2013: RESISTANCE SPECIAL