London: E15 re-occupy evicted tenant’s home, cops come in hard

Jane from Stratford, East London, and her daughter were evicted from their home last month by scumbag social-cleansing landlords Newham Council. Last Saturday (11 April) she took direct action and re-occupied her flat with support from friends from the local housing action group Focus E15 group.

Here is an excerpt from the statement they put out after the flat was re-taken:

“Jane is occupying her former council home as a political protest after she was evicted by Newham Labour council in March 2015. On Saturday 11th April, with full support from the Focus E15 campaign and many others, the doors of her former council flat were flung open and Jane threw a surprise house warming party. She was warmly welcomed back by her neighbours, family and friends. Jane was quick to hang up a newly made banner which states ‘Jane Come Home’ to the delight of her many well wishers and supporters who partied alongside her.

“Jane has a daughter who is 14 years old. They were both evicted from their home on the 24 March 2015 after being a tenant of Newham council for 20 years. Another victim of the government’s harsh benefit sanctions, she fell into rent arrears when her Employment Support Allowance was suddenly stopped and her housing benefit cut. She was evicted because she owes the council about 5 months rent of £2,569 (this figure includes some court costs). She missed the court date due to a combination of depression, illiteracy and fear.

… After all, the amount or rent that is due is not much more than the monthly rent of one of the new luxury apartments that are mushrooming all over Stratford.“

Friends stayed in the flat with Jane through the weekend. Although residential squatting is now largely illegal, there are some important legal exemptions. One is that the law is not meant to be used against present or former tenants, who may be in dispute with their landlords. Another, which has stood up in legal test cases, is that it does not apply to “political protests”. In theory, the occupation of Jane’s flat was exempt on both counts.

What happened next is that Newham Council called in Jane for a housing appointment at 3.30 on Monday afternoon. In what was clearly a planned operation, while she was out at the meeting police accompanied by council officers attacked the flat, smashed through the front door, and grabbed the friends who were occupying. They also threatened to take into care the children who were present with their parents in the flat.

After some discussion, the filth agreed to let the children and most of the occupiers free, just taking one hostage away in an unmarked police car. This was Jasmin Stone, an active and high profile member of the E15 group, who has also been strong in coming to support other housing struggles including the Aylesbury Estate Occupation.

Jasmin was taken to the new Waltham Forest “borough custody centre” in Leyton, a big cell complex that has replaced the local area cop shops (one of which was squatted not long ago). Like other new fed complexes, this is set back away from main roads, away from high streets, out of sight and hard to find. Nevertheless, in the next few hours a crowd of 50 or so people built up and held a noisy solidarity demo with improvised metal bar percussion accompanying a sound system. There was lots of shouting of slogans including “Free Jasmin Stone, let Jane come home” and “No Justice, No Peace, Fuck the Police”. A few locals heard and joined in. A line of about half a dozen cops looked on nervously.

This bit of pressure no doubt helped persuade them to let Jasmin go shortly after 10PM, after about 5 hours in the cells. She has not been charged, but bailed until mid May.

Some mainstream media have reported that the police operation was led by Scotland Yard rather than local Stratford or Waltham Forest filth. It wouldn’t be surprising that the growing rash of housing actions in London is getting on the authorities’ radar. Let’s give them plenty more to worry about.

via Rabble Ldn