A successful eviction resistance in Hackney squatters’ local ‘The Screw’ this morning. Despite an overwhelming early start to the resistance (a plethora of bailiffs and private security guards with very angry dogs) the numbers of the resistance gradually swelled to an impressive 30/35 strong crowd. After a two hour standoff, numerous cups of tea and slices of melon, the forces of darkness eventually left the derelict pub and it’s occupants in peace – much to the delight of the resistance!
A much needed success considering the newly opened ‘Cuts Cafe’ was evicted yesterday evening after harassment from the Met and riot police. At first they threatened to storm the building and arrest folk for abstraction of electricity. Although when presented with evidence that the group had spoke to an energy company earlier that day they changed their minds… They were now adamant that the group were committing aggravated trespass and thus felt the need to call 3 vans of riot cops. Proportionate.
So. Although no arrests were made, the building was emptied and re-secured by security. The police often use the offence of aggravated trespass as a way of getting people out of buildings. In the case of the cuts cafe, the building was empty. There were no signs that it was in use. The cops claimed that there were meetings scheduled there though for ‘sometime in the future’. So. Aggravated trespass. Were these people really committing this offence? Or were these empty threats? Judge for yourself.
a. Aggravated trespass (section 68, Criminal justice and public order act 1994)
‘(1) A person commits the offence of aggravated
trespass if he trespasses on land and, in relation to any
lawful activity which persons are engaged in on the
land, does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect of:
(a) intimidating those persons or any of them so as to
deter them or any of them from engaging in that
(b) obstructing that activity
(c) disrupting that activity’
The section goes on to define ‘lawful activity’ as an
activity which can be engaged in without committing
an offence or trespassing on land.’ So if the activity
wasn’t lawful or there was no actual activity taking
place then you will have a defence.
This offence can only be tried in the magistrates court.
The maximum penalty is 3 months imprisonment, a
fine of up to £2,500, or both. First timers would probably get a fine in the region of £200-300.
(Courtesy of www.activistslegalproject.org.uk)