Finland: Töölönkatu 51B evicted

10/06/2003 – Töölönkatu 51B evicted

The latest attempt at a squatted place for young people in Helsinki ended today in the eviction of Töölönkatu 51B.

It had only been squatted since Saturday night and already a sleep-in occupation had been arranged, and local bands and DJs invited to play this week. However, seven police vans arrived around ten o’clock this morning. Without warning, police wearing riot gear smashed through the glass door entrance to the squat. A short statement was made claiming that the occupation was illegal and that the local council had asked the police to remove the occupants. We were asked to leave, and when nobody complied, the 30 or so of us left in the building were systematically frog-marched out one by one. Outside, police checked i.d.’s and took mug-shot photos, and released everyone except three who had chained themselves in the attic. They were removed and arrested.

Once again, a local metropolitan council shows itself to be intolerant of the needs of young people. The squatted building had housed a car museum previously, but had lain empty for two years when the curators could not pay the rent. The council is asking for 15,000 euros rent a month. Some attempts have been made to get a fair rent for the place to be used as a social centre, but the council fobbed off the activists by saying that there were already in rent negotiations with other interested parties. It seems that the council is not the least bit interested in creating autonomous spaces for young people, legal or otherwise. Better for them to have a perfectly decent building lie idle than to let young people use their own iniative to create space for artists and musicians and all interested people to come together under one roof.

A demostration is planned for six o’clock tomorrow, outside “kiasma – museum for modern art”.

sat <mongrelfish [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk>