London: Attempted eviction at Rampart on 12th

Friday 13th March 2009

Yesterday there was an eviction attempt by owners at Rampart. It was a long battle but we are now back in full occupancy of the building. A big thank you to all those who came out in support. We want to have as many people in the building as we can in order to discourage another eviction attempt and we are calling out for your help with this.

If you can help with an occupation rota, or want to give us your phone number to be added to an eviction alert phone tree, please get in contact with us at rampart [at] mutualaid [dot] org

Briefly what happened, there had been a fire the night before in the building next door to Rampart. Yesterday at 11.30am, two suited men impersonating fire brigade inspectors demanded to be allowed in to inspect the building for fire damage. They were allowed in to be accompanied around the building. Upon entering the building three security guards appeared and followed after them. The two men, who were in fact agents acting on behalf of the owners, and the guards told the Rampart member and guest present to leave but they refused. A police officer arrived at the doorway and threatened the Rampart member and guest with arrest for having crossed a crime scene (the street had been cordoned off due to the fire) and for breach of the peace if they did not leave. The member and guest again refused to leave. Finally the security guards AND the police officer violently forced both of them out of the building.

One security guard remained inside with the door padlocked on a chain whilst another stood in front of the door. Little did they know that there was still people inside the building as they hadn’t checked it properly before securing it. More police and security guards arrived and the guards started checking the other buildings in the street. The member of Rampart did a call-out for support, and people started arriving soon afterwards.

Gradually at first, but quickly amassing to a number of over 40 people, our supporters put pressure on the police and security guards to let us back into the building. Our occupants still inside the building acted quickly, allowing others into the building through an alternative entrance, and barricaded the sole occupying security guard in on the ground floor! The Rampart now heavily out-weighed the owners in their occupancy of the building in numbers and in space secured. A black flag very quickly appeared out of a window on the top floor, with other banners hanging out of windows on the middle floor soon after.

At no point were legal papers shown, despite our frequent requests to see them. The owners successfully gained a repossession order way back in 3rd January 2008, but this has since expired and for them to legally attempt an eviction they would need to get it reissued through the courts.

A two hour stand-off ensued with constant pressure from our supporters outside on the police and agents, and eventually the agents decided to pull out their ‘man inside’ leaving the Rampart collective back in full occupancy of the building.

What can be determined from this is:

* That it was a planned ambush by the agents under pretence of impersonating fire inspectors.

* That at the time of the forced removal from the building there was no bailiff present and no legal papers were ever shown.

* That the police officer attempted to use his powers and also physically assisted the removal of the Rampart member and their guest from their place of occupance.

** There could be another eviction attempt soon, so we are calling out for supporters to add to the occupancy of the building and for people to send us phone numbers for our eviction alert phone tree. If the Rampart is to be available up to the G20 we need supporters to help us right now. **

ps. a big thankyou to the Library House for their solidarity:

The Rampart