On July 12, the day before the World Cup final match, the Police of Rio de Janeiro arrested 19 activists, aiming at disintegrating the big protest scheduled for the final’s day, on the grounds that they would have taken part in “violent” acts in riots last year and they would be planning other actions in the final manifestation of the World Cup. In total 23 search warrants and arrest and temporary detention were met against people accused of participating in social movements, the mandates were 5 days of probation, four people managed to escape the police kidnapping.
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil): International call for actions in solidarity with the World Cup prisioners. The trials begin on the 16th December.
It was just under a year ago that the SQUASH Team got wind of the death of a homeless man in Kent, who had frozen to death sleeping outside a derelict residential property. After the arrest of Alex Haigh for squatting an empty housing association (L&Q) property, the death of Daniel Gauntlett (35) exemplified the injustice of the new law s144 LASPO, making squatting residential buildings a criminal offense. On further investigation, we found out that the police had spoken to Mr Gauntlett that day; SQUASH suspect that they told him not to try entering the empty bungalow on a freezing February night, or he would be arrested. SQUASH immediately put out a press release condemning the death: “Homeless Man Prevented From Squatting Dies” [SQUASH Campaign, 1 March 2013]
This update is a few weeks old but still newsworthy. s144 refers to the clause which criminalised squatting in residential buildings in England and Wales.
Another four people have been found “Not Guilty” of the criminal offence introduced in September 2012. They were arrested at a building in Scrutton Street in March. After over six months on bail, their trial took place at Stratford in October.
Fuck s144! Another test of section 144 of LASPO has failed for the cops (This law criminalised squatting in residential buildings in 2012 for England and Wales).
(No specific names or places have been used in this article. Much of the information is purposefully left vague for two reasons. Firstly to respect people’s anonymity and secondly so individuals and groups do not feel they are specifically under attack, which is not at all my intention. My intention is to put the squatting campaign in a wider political context, and examine some of the attitudes I have observed within this context)
As a prelude to the criminalisation on residential squatting in the UK in 2012, the right-wing media went on a hysterical smear campaign against those who self-house. All sorts of disparaging nonsense was thrown about. The media’s focus became the (in)conveniently timed squatting of a large house in a wealthy area of London. It was too tasty for the media to resist: a photogenic affluent professional couple. A baby due. And freeloading squatters invading their future family home. The hacks went mental.
Given all the media attention on Police malpractice recently, and the constant, repetitive wheeling out of the “few bad apples” analogy, it seemed timely to explain why Anticapitalists hate the Police so much. Rather than present some dry, academic thesis full of depressing facts and figures (there are plenty of those about at the moment!) we have decided to simply post one local Anticapitalist’s experience of dealing with the Police as a “Political Activist” and homeless person.
The occupation of the former police station on Lower Clapton Road by Hackney residents who describe themselves as “not political” but homeless provides the owners – namely Free School Trust the Olive School – with the opportunity to prove their claimed commitment to “community service and charitable giving”, as reported on their website.
The Olive School must act humanely and negotiate with the occupiers to find a mutually beneficial deal that allows the occupiers to remain in the building until refurbishment commences.
Camden, London: Two charged with Section 144 after council house occupied in protest of sell-offs and then evicted
Update 25-02 11pm: Both people charged with Section 144 and bailed for plea hearing next month in Highbury Corner Magistrates Court.
Update 25/02 12pm: Police broke in to arrest two people on suspicion of Section 144 LASPO (see video).
Update 24/02 5pm: Police have showed up and said “Oh it’s a protest, happy days” and within two minutes all four cop cars left.
Article from 23-02 12pm: Camden Housing Action Group is occupying council property on Southampton road to protest against its selling off to private developers.
Over 500 protesters expected to confront London Mayor Boris Johnson’s Question Time on Wednesday
The Met have announced plans to make ‘rough sleeping’ a crime in 6 London boroughs. Operation Encompass will be in effect in Camden, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark and Westminster, alongside Croydon.
We are opposed to this latest attack on Homeless people and will protest at City Hall to tell Boris Johnson and the Greater London Authority (GLA) to call off this hideous campaign criminalising some of the most vulnerable people in our city. Already there have been arrests of people whose only crime is to be homeless due to the lack of Shelter spaces and suitable accomodation. [Read More]
Our three friends who were accused of the “offence” of occupying an unused allegedly residential building have all now been cleared of any “crime.” The three were arrested in Brighton last year, just two days after the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO 2012) had become law. When they came to trial, two had charges dropped, the other one was convicted purely on the word of a copper. On appeal, this conviction was quashed on October 31, over a year later. So finally we can celebrate!
Now at last we can talk about the case and what it means for squatting. Basically, the news is good. Very good in fact. This new law is unenforceable, just as groups such as Squatters Action for Secure Housing (SQUASH) and the Squatters Network of Brighton and Hove always maintained.
Resistance to s.144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012 that outlaws squatting in residential buildings is growing. Ultimately, the law may prove unworkable and unenforceable.
Ten days ago, squatters occupied a residential council property in Southwark in protest at the sell-off of council houses and the criminalisation of squatting under s.144. Last week, a Brighton squatter was acquitted on appeal as the prosecution failed to prove he was living at the property. His two co-defendants had previously been acquitted on the same charge.
Yesterday, another case collapsed when the Crown Prosecution Service presented no evidence at Mold Crown Court against Tristan Dixon who was appealing his conviction under s.144.
We won the appeal!!
A squatter convicted under s144 had the conviction unanimously overturned for lack of ANY evidence. Our barrister was ninja and the judge laid down some stringent guidelines on what the police must do to establish proof that someone lives in a squat. Unfortunately he refused to define what constitutes residential…
A deeper analysis will follow, for now we can only say if you are accused of squatting a residential building, don’t talk to police at all (no comment interview) and plead not guilty. This law is fucked and unenforceable.