| OSLO SQUATTERS CRASH CITY PARTY
On March 30th at 6am, a group of squatters secretly entered Saxegårdsgate 17. Once inside the building, the squatters laid low for 14 hours waiting for the right opportunity to reveal their existence. This day was the date for an event to take place in the ruins of the Clement’s church, which is also the site of last years squatted Saxegårdsgate 11. This was a part of Oslo City’s attempt to draw attention away from the expenses of prestigious projects like the building of a medieval park in the Old Town and the opera in Bjørvika, the accumulated cost of the year 2000 celebrations and Oslo City’s fictitious 1000-year jubilee, along with the unpopular emptying and tearing down of Saxegårdsgate 11 in connection with the medieval park. The list of the city’s money-wasting and bad priorities goes on for ever.
For the bogous publicity event, the city had booked the punk band Husbråk (“Domestic Disturbance”). During the first act, Husbråk accompanied the artist Tore Forsberg while he was reciting poems of famous Norwegian poets. This loud and innovative artistic expression sent much of the gathered members of high society running into the street just outside the Saxegårdgate 17 building. When the second act started to play Beethoven’s ninth symphony, (the same piece the squatters had played over loudspeakers during their eviction from Saxegårdsgate 11 last year) it signaled the people inside the house to go to action. Banners reading “People need houses, Houses need people” and “There’s enough rats in town, don’t give them any more offices” were hung out the windows in front of camera lenses, and some only symbolic barricades were placed in the most visible windows. Finally, a black flag was hoisted out the roof window.
These squatters were largely the same as squatted Saxegårdsgate 11, but they now call themselves Boligaksjonen Gamlebyen (“Old Town Housing Action”) – and the house is renamed Siste Skanse (“Last Bastion”). By this, the activists wish to draw attention to Oslo city’s free-market housing policy, which forces people to live themselves into poverty – or not have any place to live at all, if they are poor already.
City counselor Grete Horntvedt seemed to have no understanding of the squatters’ problems. She said that she viewed this as just a political demonstration. Obviously she has not gotten the message that people are demonstrating because they don’t have any place to live. She stated that the police were asked to evict the squatters as soon as possible. But the building Saxegårdsgate 17 is declared historic by the City Conservator, so the police have a dilemma when getting the squatters out – they can’t damage the building too much or this will look bad for both them and the City Counsel.
The squatters first priority is to have a place to live, but they have already started to open Cafe Siste Skanse in a separate part of the building. Here they will serve cheap food and arrange local cultural events, without having to strain the city’s budget – independent of how the event’s “artistic merit” might be viewed by the authorities.
We hope this action will open peoples eyes, and that the authorities for once will obey the will of the little man.
BZ din by!
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