Brighton: Direct action to prevent deaths on the streets

A squatted night shelter in Brighton is housing homeless people. The Canary visited the squat and spoke to residents about the project.

Back in December 2019, people in Brighton called an emergency meeting to discuss how to act in solidarity with those facing life on the streets. The initiative was taken by Brighton’s Queer AF anti-fascist alliance and other grassroots groups.

Soon, activists took control of an empty Kodak shop on Brighton’s London Road and began using it to house rough sleepers. This week, the group squatted another unused building: the old Poundstretcher building on London Road.
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SqEK (Squatting Everywhere Kollective) is dead

Well, well, WELL. Here we are, it’s been the best part of a decade and now
SqEK is dead. I have mostly enjoyed my time being part of Squatting
Everywhere Kollective (SqEK) ever since I popped up at the London 2010
meeting, having seen a post on Indymedia UK (RiP). On the whole, being a
member of the collective has been a productive and inspiring time. I have
written a few book chapters and journal articles about squatting, a couple
in collaboration with people, and none of these things would have happened
if I hadn’t got off my arse and taken that train up to London.

The annual conferences have been an amazing opportunity to engage with local
squatter and radical leftwing movements in places like Barcelona, Berlin,
Catania, Copenhagen, Paris, Prague and Rome. Disparagingly described by
someone leaving the collective back then as “just people meeting up to go
visit various squats,” these meetings have actually been amazingly fertile
encounters between us as SqEK and social centre participants in places like
Klinika (Prague, recently evicted), Can Mas Deu (Barcelona), New Yorck im Bethanianen (Berlin), Candy Factory and Trampoline House (Copenhagen), Poortgebouw (Rotterdam), Studentato Occupato (Catania), La Gare XP and Transfo (Paris).
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Amsterdam: “Free” Space and Squatting. No More Caged Chickens

Free Space Now. The slogan of ADEV in 2018 – an annual street rave organised by squatters and artists in the city of Amsterdam. The slogan refers to a lobbying initiative called the Free Spaces Accord (vrijplaatsenakkoord). Inspired by the looming eviction of the ADM and by the new ruling coalition of the municipality’s rhetoric in support of counter-culture, the stated aim of the Accord is twofold: the legitimisation of existing Free Spaces (vrijplaatsen) and the stimulation of new Free Spaces.

The initiative emerges from an influential part of the Amsterdam squatting movement. This loosely defined faction, which includes the ADEV organisation, the Free Spaces Accord, parts of the ADM community, and many legalised squats, believes in integration with the city, rather than attempting to oppose the authoritarian power structures and the social degradation they are responsible for.

This faction campaigns for “the fringes”, hoping to secure a few buildings where a small minority (elite groups?) of artists and “free thinkers” can escape the rat race and be “free”. Only then, the argument continues, can such people make a contribution to the city and – according to one end of the faction’s political spectrum – to capitalism and wealth creation. [Read More]

Greece: First they take Exarcheia…

Recent evictions of several squats, some housing refugees and migrants, mark the beginning of a new chapter of repression and dissent in Greece. In the autonomous Athens neighborhood of Exarcheia on the morning of Monday, August 26, hundreds of masked riot cops with tear gas at hand cordoned off an entire block. Overhead, helicopters circled the scene.

No one would be blamed for thinking a civil war, or worse, was about to erupt. But no, the Greek state led by the new conservative government was mobilizing its full repressive armada to evacuate several squats occupied by refugees and migrants. Theorist Akis Gavriilidis weighed in:

This affair is a scandalous waste of public funds, for a result that is not only zero but negative in every respect: moral, legal, practical, economic and whatever you can imagine. To detain dozens of refugees — including children — who have committed no crime, to evict them from places where they have lived a dignified life they have helped to shape themselves, with the only prospect of being imprisoned in a hell where they live in much worse conditions, forced to passivity and inactivity. [Read More]

Berlin: Expropriate Everything

It’s an unusually warm Saturday in Berlin—if it even makes sense to refer to the weather as “unusual” anymore. I wake up early, read a bit, write some emails, change some diapers, and then head out to meet some friends at the café before the big demo. The Mietwahnsinn or “rent insanity” protest is an annual gathering of tens of thousands of people at Alexanderplatz who come together to loudly and colorfully decry the seemingly unstoppable rise of rents in the German capital. Like most big protests here, it feels like a party. Strolling down Karl-Marx-Allee, a massive boulevard built in Stalinist style for East Berlin, 40,000 human beings throb to the bass—young, old, parents, roommates, co-workers, students, tenants, and activists all drifting together in common disarray, like a roving concert, shouting about rent-sharks, high costs of living, and, most of all, expropriation. The word is on everyone’s lips, not least the city senate, the big property owners and real estate companies, the struggling tenants and just about anyone else who’s read the paper, watched the news, or walked the streets where posters, banners and graffiti calling for the expropriation of Deutsche Wohnen & Co are ubiquitous. In most cities, such radical slogans would be ignored or dismissed as the infantile fantasies of an ultra-left fringe. But not here. The demand to expropriate the largest profit-oriented property owners in Berlin—in other words, to socialize over 200,000 private apartments—is a serious proposal, one that may, in fact, take place. How did this happen? [Read More]

Trespass Journal Issue Three

We’re glad to finally present Issue 3 of Trespass Journal!

In this issue, which is online and freely distributed, you’ll find a translation from English to Dutch of a journal article about how a moral panic was generated to enforce the criminalisation of squatting in the Netherlands and a translation to French of a brief text about migration on Idomeni in Greece, near to Macedonia, which was previously published in Trespass 2 in Italian.

As interventions in five languages, we have an analysis of the lack of support to the ZAD in Brittany, plus short pieces about the opening of a new anarchist social centre in the Paris suburbs, community resistance to preserve a park in London, the demolition of a community gym in Athens, an (unsuccessful) eviction threat in Catania, and an eviction in Catalonia. And a report on the resquat of the watertower in Utrecht! There’s plenty more news and analysis on this website.
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Notre-Dame-des-Landes (France): The Movement is Dead, Long Live… Reform!

This text was written during fall 2017 on the ZAD of Notre-Dame- des-Landes, France. Since then, the situation drastically changed when the government announced on January 17 th , 2018 that they are abandoning the airport project. It may seem obsolete to publish this after the “victory”. But, despite the importance this struggle has for me, I didn’t celebrate this victory. I am probably too suspicious and critical about what’s at stake and what’s hiding behind the decision.
In this difficult period for social struggles, the fight against the airport has become a kind of symbol against the capitalist onslaught, as the struggle to not lose in an ocean of defeats. So, trying a critical approach means often being confronted by a defensive reflex to protect an idealized vision. Oh well, here goes… [Read More]

Portugal: Voices from an okupation. The assembleia de occupação de Lisboa

Ongoing reflections on an okupation in Lisbon (continuing a discussion) …

The essay below, which we share in translation, is by Tiago F. Duarte, a member of the Assembleia de occupação de Lisboa, a collective responsible for the recent occupation of a residential building in Lisbon’s centre. We share the essay not because we agree with everything that is stated therein – for example, its overly marxist reading of history, of the opposition of the city and the countryside, of class conflict, and its reduction of occupation to a means or tactic of anti-capitalism when it is as much an end and a strategy (that is, these distinctions are in the end not only meaningless, but problematic) – but because of its insistence in reading “okupation” as a radical politics. [Read More]

Squatting: the urban space as a common good

London_squatters_outside_the_Mayfair“Housing is a need, not a privilege”, “Housing for people, not for profit”. Banners with slogans like these hang from windows in any number of European cities. Across Europe, increasing social inequality is making some urban spaces inaccessible to those who used to inhabit them. Gentrification, corporatization and so-called “urban regeneration” projects are leading to the demolition of social and accessible housing, replaced by unaffordable apartments. This leads to the increased eviction and displacement of tenants from their homes and their relocation to the suburbs and peripheries.

Houses, once owned by councils or their occupants, have become investment opportunities for large corporations. With up to 200,000 living spaces intentionally kept vacant in the UK, houses are being stripped of their social value and becoming objects to secure the elites’ wealth. Workers in precarious positions, families, low wage households and students are being displaced or made homeless, while surrounded by vacant properties. [Read More]

Barcelona: How solidarity and mutual aid saved Barcelona’s Can Vies Squat for eviction and destruction

bcn27m_9The Can Vies social centre in Barcelona made headlines around the world when its eviction led to five consecutive nights of rioting in late May 2014. But the social center has a longer history than this.

Can Vies, originally built in 1879 to stock construction materials for the city’s subway, became the headquarters of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT transport union during the 1930s Spanish Revolution. Following Franco’s victory in 1939, the building became the center for a fascist, hierarchal labor union.

In 1997, the building was abandoned by its owners, Barcelona’s transport authority (TMB), and was subsequently squatted by the neighborhood’s youth. Since then, the Centro Social Autogestionado Can Vies has become a well-used and well-loved community space providing a variety of services to the people of Sants, a neighborhood with a strong tradition of cooperatives. [Read More]

Trespass Journal

We are pleased to present issue one of Trespass Journal. Trespass is self-managed, open access, and unfunded. It is multidisciplinary and publishes work in different languages. It is an online journal which also publishes selected works in print.

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Lleida (Catalonia): Squatted Social Centre ‘La Chispa’ Resists Eviction

After a lengthy legal process against four ex-occupiers the vibrant, active, self-managed SPARK project among the orchards of Lleida is condemned to be evicted in the new year by capitalist speculation

original by Sergi Bertran and Sonia Perez at La Directa. … translated summary by The Free

….We are on the outskirts of Lleida city (in Lleida province). This area has undergone a major change in recent years… where there were small family orchards and country houses today they have built fast food chains, department stores, hotels and luxury villas. The companies and new owners of the land have been moving out the locals, buying up their land at high prices…
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