Last Friday morning, the 8th of April, eight High Court Enforcement Officers, privately contracted bailiffs, struggled through blood and sweat for five humiliating hours in an attempt to evict a squat in Grenville Street, Bloomsbury. The building, in an upmarket area of central London, has stood empty for over ten years for the sake of profit, and been evicted multiple times over, while homelessness across the city increases.
Watched by a hundred supporters and interested locals, the bailiffs faced a mammoth task of attempting to get through the barricades whilst being cajoled by bystanders and facing the wrath of an ear-wrenching soundtrack comprised of babies wailing over Requiem by György Ligeti. The support for the squatters came quickly, was vocal, and from a broad spectrum of folk. The resistance was physical and militant, and after removing two doors only to find they were but a fraction of the way through the barricade, the bailiffs lost hope. Upon consulting the rather timid constabulary, they packed their bags and headed home, the shame (among other substances) visible on their faces.
A victory gathering was held, and much was said about how important it is to have such a triumph against unjust attempted evictions, especially in times like these, where the law is being constantly tweaked in favour of landlords. It shows that all is not lost just because the courts have ruled one way or the other, that people have the power to ensure they are not thrown out on the street simply because an owner wishes to leave their building empty.