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.
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.
According to Robert Neuwith , author of Shadow cities ,there are more than a billion squatters living on this planet. One in seven people.
Brazilian squat community
Evidently there is a huge global need for land to grow food on and homes in which to live. Yet, according to academic Kesia Reeve, “squatting is largely absent from policy and academic debate and is rarely conceptualized, as a problem, as a symptom, or as a social or housing movement.”
South African Squats
The global response on the part of the 1% has been to make squatting illegal in most countries. Despite this criminalisation of a huge political movement, (squatting is political), the occupation of empty buildings and land continues.
Squatted Land in London
In the UK, section 144 of the legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill 2012 criminalises squatting in a residential buildings. The Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS) keep their website current and will let people know when this legislation is enacted. Check it for updates: www.squatter.org.uk
Eviction Resistance will be hosting the next London squattastic event. This will be a great opportunity for London squatters, and guests to come together to brain storm tactics that will ensure squatting continues in England and Wales post criminalisation . It will be on the 2nd of September, from 2pm-6pm. Keep checking this blog for more updates.
66 Queens Square Bristol, site of Tuesday’s illegal eviction
Disturbing reports yesterday of yet another unlawful eviction having taken place. In the earlier hours of Tuesday morning, members of the Avon and Somerset police force decided to evict a group of young squatters on the grounds that they were ‘trespassing’. They stated that squatting had become illegal and that they now had the power to evict the building. They didn’t. Section 6 of the criminal law act 1977 still applies; entrance by force or by threat of force to a persons residence is still a criminal offence. The inhabitants of the former building society in Bristol had committed no crime, they are were simply occupying an abandoned building and this is still completely lawful. Although the offence of squatting in residential buildings has been passed, it has not yet been enacted. This means the police have no power at all to evict/arrest under this new offence. Three complaints have been made against the officers who were involved in this incident. We’ll keep you updated on how these complaints progress. The squatters resquatted the property shorty after the police left and to our knowledge they are still there. Respect! For more info check the indymedia article: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/08/498995.html
The forces of darkness stalled by a peaceful demonstration outside the squatted property. On talking to the occupants we learnt that the building had been empty for 13 years and it had now been put back into use as a home for fourteen individuals. A hearty cooked breakfast was enjoyed by the 50 strong turn out and there was much celebration when the bailiffs decided not to go ahead with the eviction. This resistance was back in May, to our knowledge the property still remains squatted to this day.
Once again the corporate 0lympics have outdone themselves in the exclusion of local people;both the BBC and Al Jazeera have taken over a number of the upper floors in two residential tower blocks overlooking the olympic site. The residents being temporarily moved. In the spirit of exclusion ER believes the council have turned a blind eye to this. Private security now control entry to the tower blocks for all residents.This control is so total that residents have been denied access to their homes because of an apparent security breach at the BBC suite or residents home as ER would like to call it.When police were called to the scene you will not be surprised to find they sided with the private security, further denying access to legitimate residents.There was no security breach, but ER fully expect the residents to be further excluded during the corporate games. A source has told ER there are plans to further gentrify the Stratford area with the demolition of the two tower blocks, with the land being made available for yet more corporate development and greed at the expense of local people. Watch this space for further updates.
These stickers are seen on wheelie bins around Brighton and Hove, the constituency of Mike Wetherly – the MP that initially proposed the criminalisation of squatting. It’s a sign of a profoundly sick society when people are forced to take shelter where others dispose of their rubbish.
Also, the cartoon strip below was the central page feature in London and Scotland’s free magazine for the homeless (thepavement.org) April 2012 edition. What sort of ‘developed country’ are we living in when human lives are being lost in such a horrific way?