Amsterdam: The Elephant, new social center threatened with eviction

On the 26th of July a commercial space at the Eerste van Swindenstraat 391 in Amsterdam that had been left empty by property speculators was squatted with the intention of transforming this empty shell into a community social centre: The Elephant.
This space was managed by real estate agency Van Maarschaalkerwaart, known to deliberately leave properties empty for a long time, as a means to make profit through speculation on property markets.

This is a widespread trend amongst property corporations, contributing to the gentrification process in the Dapperbuurt in which small businesses and low-income family are displaced from the neighborhood, through the raising of rents, lack of maintenance and other means. This has taken shape in the destruction of community and cultural spaces, as well as pressure on small businesses, forcing closures. This feature of the gentrification process can be noted clearly in the the closure of two social centres in the Dapperbuurt, as a result of corporations such as DeKey raising the rent to extortionate rates, in order to sell to property developers, speculators, hipster bars, and chain stores.

The Elephant is squatted as a form of protest against gentrifcation and tries to counter the process by creating a cultural and political space. We aim to give the space back to the community, replacing the spaces which have been taken from the neighboorhood. The Elephant is a space where community organisations are able to organise activities, where free food will be offered to the community, films will be screened and other activities organised for the community, and by the community.

However the Elephant is threatened with eviction due to the real estate agency instituting a “speedspeed” summary proceeding. By creating “a gatheringplace for the community that is open to everyone” the real estate corporation fears possible financial consequences and wants to halt the social centre before it is even able to start properly.

We want to press forward with the project, however, faced with court proceedings and legal consequenes, the future of The Elephant as a community centre looks bleak. A key weapon for our case could be the support of people like you, showing that a gathering place open to everyone, is more beneficial to the community than emptiness and gentrification.

Help us in our battle by siging our petition!