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.