Its two weeks today since we, a ragged band, moved into the gardens surrounding the old, disused Brunel University Runnymede Campus.
In the past it was a thriving university campus where sciences, design and technology, theatre and sport were taught and enjoyed until the site was sold to private property developers in 2007. For over five years it has remained largely vacant and disused (with the occassional film shoot or police dog training taking place in the buildings).
The lead up to the Olympics has seen a rapid increase of police brutality against migrant communities in Calais and their supporters. Calais is an ‘Olympic village’ during the Games and in preparation the authorities have begun cleaning up the streets to make Calais ‘migrant free’.
At 1am this morning, 14th June 2012, over a dozen police vans raced down City Road, towards Finsbury Square. Accompanied by two or three coaches of bailiffs in orange jackets. They quickly formed a line round the site and dragged those asleep out of their tents. Some being aware of the police coming climbed into the barricade built over three of the wooden pallet houses, with one masked protester at the top of a tree in the square.
By Our man in Amsterdam
A new documentary on the squatters’ movement by João Romão, a Portuguese economist and activist living in Amsterdam, has just been released. Squatted Freedom, a one-hour limited-budget film, combines archival footage and interviews with current and former squatters to examine the history and politics of the movement as well as the wave of recent, violent evictions of squats in Amsterdam.
Squatted Freedom is a fascinating film. The story of the squatters’ movement, past and present, is both captivating and inspiring. Violent confrontations between police and squatters have been taking place since the 1980s and continue into the present. Squatted Freedom reaches its climax during an intense standoff and eventual confrontation between squatters and riot police attempting to evict a prominent Amsterdam squat, a scene which Romão and his colleagues were lucky enough to capture on film. [Read More]
Squatting is on the rise again in these times of austerity (see for example the recent occupations of flats in Southern Spain, mostly carried out by housewives and families). An Italian project that’s caught my attention since its beginning is in Pisa, where last year’s Occupy protests evolved into the reappropriation and transformation of abandoned buildings for the benefit of the local community.
Activists in London have a tradition of reclaiming abandoned buildings, sometimes to use them as social centers, sometimes for definite periods of mobilization. On the last weekend in May, the latest such center was opened, but this time with a very singular focus.