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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Early Thursday morning we received some very disturbing news. Private bailiffs had smashed their way into a squatted building and were violently removing the sleepy occupants. The building, an empty commercial unit in South Bermondsey, had been occupied for less than 48 hours before the owner called in heavies to get the squatters out. Without going through the courts, this was of course completely illegal.
One female squatter gave her account of the mornings events: ‘At 7am I woke up to the sound of screaming. Around 20 large men with crowbars and hammers were going from room to room, violently dragging people from their beds to the floor and screaming ‘GET OUT!’. When they came to my room, my partner asked them how they could remove people from the building without a court warrant. They replied by threatening to ‘do him in’ with a crowbar. As I was being pushed out of the building I managed to break free, grab my dog and barricade myself in a room. I called the police immediately’
The police arrived fairly promptly at the scene. On speaking to the bailiffs and squatters they made the decision that the eviction would still go ahead as there was ‘nothing they could do’. The officer in charge was repeatedly told that the bailiffs had used violence to enter the building unlawfully and that this contravened section 6 of the criminal law act 1977. In addition, one of the squatters had been stabbed by a bailiff in the scuffle to remove him from the building. Yet, the police response was ‘Sorry for the violence, but there’s nothing we can do’.
Thus, despite the wrong doing of the property owner and bailiffs, the squatters were eventually thrown out onto the street. In response to the violence used to enter the property, the bailiffs claimed to have found the entrance door ‘wide open’. The police seemed to believe this, despite the considerable damage done to the door ( possibly done through forced entry?)
The squatters who were evicted have been taken in to neighbouring squats and the stab victim received hospital treatment. This is sadly yet another incident were squatters have been treated as lower class citizens by the authorities. Police complaints have been made, we’ll update when we get more info about their progress.
Last Monday, the resistance mobilised in response to threat of unlawful eviction.
A group of around 30 homeless young people had occupied an empty building in the city of London. However, after a few days of shelter they received a visit from one of the UK’s most corrupt corporations – the city of London police. They were told that they would have to leave the building with immediate effect as they were committing ‘aggravated trespass’. Knowing this was not the case, they sought legal advice and a legal observer went to their assistance.
The forces of darkness, however, decided to continue on with their empty threats despite knowing full well that no offence was being committed. The resistance began mobilising outside the building and after a few hours there was an impressive 60 strong turnout. After a few hours of anxious waiting, information came in that riot cops were being briefed in a side street close to the building. Those inside and outside the building began preparing themselves for the violence that was inevitably about to come.
At round 9pm, 7 hours after the police had first arrived, 20 riot cops charged the building and forcefully threw members of the peaceful resistance, locked on in front of the main entrance, to the floor. Violent scuffles were had as people tried to clamber to their feet. Those inside the building were dragged out and dumped on the pavement. Within ten minutes, the eviction was over and the group back out on the streets.
The only offence that was committed, to our knowledge, was when a member of the Met police punched one of the evictees directly in the face while shouting ‘move back!’. We’re pretty sure that this is not an orthodox way of crowd control… We’ve seen the footage and have strongly advised the individual to press charges.
So. The City of London police are at it again – wasting time and resources to evict homeless people from empty buildings. Here’s a video from a particularly memorable incident that happened last year. The city of London police called in the TSG to unlawfully evict a newly opened squat. The crime? An allegation of theft…… of a padlock. Lol, proportionate.
HOMELESS MAN SENTENCED TO 15 WEEKS FOR SHELTERING IN ABANDONED BUILDING
We’re saddened to report another vulnerable person has been criminalised under the new squatting legislation. The news is just in from a Daily Mail article we got forwarded today. It seems that the former soldier, 27, was suffering from alcohol dependency following the breakdown of a relationship and as such had lost his accommodation. He had been sleeping rough until he found a boarded up building to shelter in at night. The article goes on to say that, following a tip off, the police entered the building on the morning of the 31st Jan and, on finding him asleep, gave him 20 minutes to vacate the property. He allegedly refused to leave (we’d guess he probably fell back asleep) and thus was arrested for squatting in a residential property. The outcome? 15 weeks in prison.
This new legislation is continuing to do nothing but show just how cruel and inhumane it is. This individual clearly needed support, not a prison sentence. In his words ”I now sleep in the abandoned cars in King Street. I am an alcoholic and I need alcohol to survive. I have recently started suffering severe fits and if I don’t drink they get worse. I am scared I am going to die”. And this was said to a journalist last August. It would seem there has been a massive failure in getting this man the support he so desperately cried out for.
Other thoughts: I think we’d all agree it’s been pretty chilly for the start of 2013. Wouldn’t you try to find a roof over your head than sleep outside in freezing temperatures? And who was the victim of this ‘crime’? That the police were responding to a ‘tip off’ suggests that it was not the property owner who reported him, more likely a bored, daily mail reading neighbour. And that the police were able to enter though an open door meant he was not attempting to deny anyone access to the property. To us, it seems the only crime that has been committed is not getting the appropriate support to this man who was clearly in need.
For those who can stomach to read the Daily Mail article, here’s the link:
Want to take action against the criminalisation of the vulnerable? Join us in supporting SQUASH with their new campaign to repeal section 144 of the LASPO Act. Sign online and share the e-petition far, far and wide.
Just a quick post to let everyone know the ER blog is finally back up and running! After a few weeks of internet problems, technology failures and general incompetencies we’re now able to get posting again.
As you might have noticed, we’ve changed our blog address from google owned blogspot to the more activist friendly squat.net. We won’t be updating the blogspot address anymore so spread the word that the new ER blog address is www.evictionresistance.squat.net. We’ve still got a bit of formatting to do until we’re happy with the new look so please bear with us as we play around with the settings.
So, there’s quite a backlog of posts we want to get out there. Do keep checking back from time to time to see what’s new. Oh, and of course if anyone would like to do a guest blog post then of course we’d be happy to post it up for you. Email us at evictionresistance[at]squat.net and we’ll get it posted asap.