Amsterdam: squat action attempt on Gravenstraat and police brutality

Today 12 september there was an attempt to squat Gravenstraat 26-28 on the day of the Housing Protest. Thousands of people took the streets to demonstrate against the so-called housing crisis – the shortage and exploitation in the housing market, the lack of affordable housing and the disproportionate increase in rents.

The police used excessive force to beat us away from the place that was to become our new home. From the moment we arrived at the demonstration, certain activists were excessively watched by the police and even arrested for wearing an anti-Nazi symbol. From the beginning, the police were out to repress and arrest activists. Police brutality escalated as soon as we arrived at Dam Square. We were beaten up, dragged out of the crowd by silent cops, and some of us were even beaten to the ground and walked over by cops until we were bloody. The police deliberately chose to escalate and we even heard them say that they deliberately “went full on”.

Squatting IS housing protest and we were active participants in the demonstration today. The false statement that was made by the police that we are separate from the larger group of protesters is ridiculous. The protest stood for the same values as us. Squatting has traditionally been one of the most important, if not the most important, part of addressing the housing crisis. Housing is a basic necessity of life and if it is not given to us by the state and society, we take it. Today the police and the state showed that they don’t give a fuck about affordable and good housing but would rather arrest and beat up people.

We live in a city where every home is needed. Instead, speculators like Rogier Thewassen are allowed to let houses rot away instead of housing people in them. We believe that squatting is a more than legitimate way to combat the housing crisis. On the very day of the Housing Protest, we must take matters into our own hands. Housing is a basic necessity of life and should be available to everyone. And if we don’t get it, we’ll take it!

The houses on Gravenstraat are owned by speculator Rogier Thewassen who is CEO of employment agency Young Capital and owns 116 properties. The houses have been empty for more than two years and are boarded up. We find it unacceptable that houses are empty while we are homeless and looking for affordable housing. We are being arrested and beaten away while speculators like Rogier Thewassen get away with their dirty speculation games.

Groenlinks Mayor Femke Halsema systematically sides with the speculator and has had countless buildings evicted for emptiness in recent years. Meanwhile, owners are hardly dealt with and can continue to speculate by offering precarious contracts, in addition to the Wet Kraken en Leegstand (Law on Squatting and Vacancy), through profitable companies that do so-called ‘vacancy management’. These contracts are stripped of all rental rights. Policies such as Goed Verhuurderschap (Good Landlordism) are therefore an illusion. Today it has once again been proven that the municipality of Amsterdam always sides with the speculators and deploys the repressive police apparatus to prevent us from finding a new home.

But housing shortage breaches the law! Squatting will continue. Squatting will continue because otherwise young people and other housing seekers will become even more of a plaything of homeowners, housing corporations and anti-squatting agencies. Squatting will continue because you have to take your right when you don’t get it. Squatting continues because property is not a basic necessity of life, but a roof over your head is. Against speculators, policy makers and wolves in sheep’s clothing the message must always be clear: if we don’t get it, we take it! Squatting will continue!

Some squats in the Netherlands:
Groups (social centers, collectives, squats) in the Netherlands:
Events in the Netherlands: