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.
Posted onFebruary 9, 2013|Comments Off on CITY OF LONDON POLICE: YET ANOTHER ILLEGAL EVICTION
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.
Posted onAugust 17, 2012|Comments Off on WHATEVER THEY SAY, SQUATTING WILL STAY!!
The international squatting symbol
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.
Comments Off on WHATEVER THEY SAY, SQUATTING WILL STAY!!
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.
Posted onJuly 5, 2012|Comments Off on Desperate times, desperate, deadly measures
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?
Comments Off on Desperate times, desperate, deadly measures