London: Squatter’s Digest, Greece

Greece, the home of democracy. And molotov cocktails. They also enjoy regular cocktail nights to raise money for the squats and imprisoned anarchists. It’s one thing to know what is going on inside the UK with regards to squats, but I feel we are severely lacking in communication with squats across Europe, or indeed the world. Hopefully I can bring to you some of the news from some of the squats in Greece along with the usual round-up of news from London and beyond.

Setting The Scene

A quick explanation of how the law works in Greece, from a meeting I had with a lawyer personally involved in one of the local neighbourhood squats. Unlike in the UK, squatting is a criminal rather than civil matter. It is based around a few points in the penal code, such as breaching someone’s right to asylum in their own house, or disturbing the community. However the police cannot act unless a complaint is made by the owner to the state prosecutor, who then instructs the police to enforce it. For public buildings there is a bit of a loophole in the penal code dating back to 1938, and a lot of squats in Greece fall into a kind of “hybrid” category, meaning the prosecutor is less likely to take action unless pushed by the local government. However as of the 1st of July this year, the penalties have gone up in accordance with the introduction of a new penal code. What were simple misdemeanours for resisting can now be classified as heavier breaches of law, and can see a jail-term of 3 years, up from the previous maximum of 1 year. Interestingly this was introduced at the same time as the reduction of a lot of other penalties, prompting outrage from other parties. In any case this was the doing of Syriza, and with the election on July 7th, the conservative New Democracy is back in power, so things can be expected to only get worse (more on this later). [Read More]

London: Call out for a noise demo in solidarity with Barcelona’s war on gentrification

On Monday 8th July at 8.30am, activists will gather in front of Blackstone offices at 40 Berkley Square in London W1 J5AL for a noise demo to show solidarity with Barcelona’s residents fighting against gentrification.

Blackstone Group, a New York based multinational private equity firm and the World’s largest alternative investment company*, is the biggest property and hotel owner in Spain. The firm, along other large companies such as Goldman Sachs, Apollo Management and Cerberus, have been buying tens of thousands of residential properties in Spain and then raising rents and evicting thousands of long-term tenants to make space for richer and more “desirable” residents: or just leaving homes to rot empty while their value increases. [Read More]

London: Squatter’s Digest, Festivals and Frontlines

As the riot police continued to batter the last of our barricades, blasting through the structural brickwork of the back entrance to our squat I knew it was time to go. I tried to lug my bookshelf down the stairs to safety, but sadly was forced to leave it behind as I was dragged past the lines of helmets and shields to await my fate in the outside world. Sorry for the delay, but welcome back to Squatter’s Digest. Stick around as I try to rattle off all the comings and goings in the squat world over the last couple of months.

So we were finally evicted from our squat in East London, overwhelmed by the riot squad, local bobbies, and high court bailiffs. Two of our number were arrested, although have since been released. In the words of the rossers themselves “apparently it’s okay to assault the police these days” (you can taste the bitter sarcasm with which such words were offered). It may be just coincidence, but it does feel like there has been a push by councils in east London (particularly Newham and Tower Hamlets) to rid the borough of squats. In fact at the time of writing there were no less than four squats either going through court or due to be evicted in the week. [Read More]

London: Squatter’s Digest: The Fight To Remain

No, no, not that fight to Remain. You’re here for the squatting right?

Well if you read last month’s entry (this is something of a journal I guess, rather than journalism), then you’ll be pleased to know that I write to you from the comfort of my squat, the same one as before. With 30 fellow squatters outside the barricaded front door, serving breakfast, tea and coffee, and a free shop to the public, the resistance to our eviction was handled with ease. So, here I remain.

Further resistance to the bailiffs was seen within a few days time in London, this time in the south, in Deptford. Expecting a somewhat firmer attempt from the bailiffs, people gathered from 7 in the morning to barricade (although some were still up from doing this the night before) and to protect the entrance-way. High court bailiffs arrived, and it seemed like it was on. However, despite the posturing of the initial few enforcers, and the entrance of another half-dozen reinforcements, the bailiffs had no success in removing the squatters. With the squatters being an integral part of local campaigns such as the oft-mentioned Tidemill Garden, scores of local residents and campaigners came down to show their displeasure at the attempt, and the police and bailiffs caved to the pressure and retreated. [Read More]

London: Squatter’s Digest: Grow Heathrow halved, ciao to Asilo

I do have a pretty good excuse for being a little late in writing this month’s column, namely being arrested and remanded for a squatting-related offence (of which I am not guilty for the record, as I will be testifying at trial later in the year).
At least I’m not all talk and no walk huh.

A couple of nights in the cells isn’t so bad though – let’s start this round-up with some hard-hitting news from abroad. The Fraguas case in Spain. For those not aware of the situation, since 2013 a group of squatters calling themselves the Association of Rural Repopulation of Sierra Norte, more commonly Fraguas Revive, occupied an abandoned village in Guadalajara near Madrid. The intention was to breathe life back into the village that was left empty since the expropriation by the Franco regime, and to provide space for people to imagine and act out utopias of the future through self-organisation and sustainability. [Read More]

London: Urgent support call-out as Grow Heathrow eviction looms

The squatted site, which was founded to oppose the nearby airport’s destructive expansion project, is facing a bailiff assault either tomorrow or on Wednesday.
In the shout out for “urgent support against a land squat eviction” earlier today organisers at the four-acre camp [map] noted that the threat comes shortly before their ninth anniversary, which is due to be celebrated with a weekend gathering on March 8th-10th.
Lead owners Malik took the group to crown court at the beginning of this month and have brought in the National Eviction Team to carry out the eviction, which affects the front of the property.
Talking to Freedom, the collective said: “The writ of possession on Grow Heathrow’s front land was updated at the start of this month. That means that a ‘legal’ eviction involving high court bailiffs could take place at any time.
“We are a strong lot of people of all ages and a bunch of animals … but if you have time over the next few weeks, please come and hang out and help out. We don’t know when they’ll come… but we’d like to make some noise when they do!
“As far as we are aware the back lands are safe, although there is also a writ of possession from the High Court – we don’t believe that they will act on it, though it it’s possible.”
The group, who run a large community garden on site, have weathered repeated legal efforts to push them out over the last two years following an original 2017 ruling that they would have to leave in 14 days. Grow Heathrow has worked under the threat of eviction ever since. [Read More]

Squatters Of London Action Paper – Issue 10

SLAP! (Squatters of London Action Paper) is a monthly DIY newspaper for squatters in London. It is available in print and online as a PDF. The paper combines news, pictures, analysis and humour and aims to strengthen connections between squatters in London in order to encourage direct actions and other forms of anarchist organising. Download here.

The above info was taken from NFAAF.

In SLAP10 there is the following news about changes to practical squatting nights in London:

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London: Squatter’s Digest: A hard-hitting start

What a start to 2019 — some of the news that has kicked off the year has been so big it will already be familiar to many readers. The eviction of ADM for example. For 21 years the squatted docklands in Amsterdam were a place of pilgrimage for squatters and other weirdos all over the world. It’s a damn shame to see it go, the amount of creativity that came out of one space surely lends itself to the argument for free spaces. In response to this many actions were taken out across Europe, and a new squat was opened in Bristol in solidarity. Even more recent was the eviction of Klinika in Prague which began approximately one week ago. Klinika was an autonomous space that for three years hosted a people’s kitchen, political discussions, and had a bar and ran alternative and music events. There’s a lot to discuss about both evictions, but I’d like to touch on some other updates before that.

Back home, in a not-so-squat-related event, the crew from Syndikat, an anarchist pub collective in Berlin, dropped in to pay a visit to their landlords, the Pears Brothers, who were terminating their tenancy without any real reason after the anarcho-pub had been there for 33 years. Pears Global Real Estate Investors are a company that tried to hide their involvement in the ownership of Syndikat through the use of many offshore front companies, and do this all over the world. The Syndikat collective came to London to surprise their landlords with a little action outside their London headquarters. [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.
[Read More]

London: Squatter’s Digest: That’s a wrap

Welcome to the second, and final edition of Squatters Digest (for 2018). You made it, faithful readers.

In a shock headline, squatting in the UK continues. Evictions still take place every month, but due to the huge number of empty properties in the country, people are still finding ways to self-house. These properties sit vacant while people struggle with rents, and with capitalism. Sometimes people die, and still these buildings remain empty. As the temperatures look to drop below zero in the next couple of days, and I sit here with a horrible cold, I am reminded that it is coming up 6 years since the death of Daniel Gauntlett, a man who froze to death outside a building in Kent, too afraid to enter for fear of being prosecuted for the crime of squatting in a residential building, the infamous Section 144 LASPO law brought in back in 2012 that so many people with an interest in squatting will know all too well. [Read More]

London: Squatters digest- low tide. Next comes the flood

Welcome to the Squatter’s Digest, a new column for Freedom News, highlighting the ongoings of the squat scene in London and beyond, along with providing opinions on the politics of said goings-on. Quality and coherence are not guaranteed.

The 29th of October saw 150 high-court bailiffs and police descend upon the Tidemill Community Garden in Deptford, London, at 6am, pulling people from their tents, dragging them out of tree-houses, and laying waste to the entire occupation. Occupiers climbed the trees and refused to vacate, while outside fights broke out between the supporters and bailiffs (County Enforcement, well-known to squatters, see Corporate Watch’s latest article on them), who of course were protected by members of the Metropolitan Police force. At some point in the afternoon the last squatter was removed from the trees and the garden was all but lost. But this didn’t stop the people outside from trying for one last push to regain entry to the site. Rushing for the fences, people were thrown to the ground and detained by bailiffs and police, but also linked arms and refused to allow their fellow protestors to be taken to the arrest vans, defiant to the last. [Read More]

London: The Battle for Deptford and Beyond

In Deptford in south east London, local campaigners have occupied a 20-year old community garden to prevent it from being boarded up and razed to the ground by Lewisham Council and the housing association, Peabody. They are also highlighting the absurdity of proposals to demolish 16 structurally sound council flats next door to build new social housing.

What’s happening in Deptford reflects two pressing concerns in the capital today. The first is the prioritising of house-building projects over pressing environmental concerns. The second is the destruction of social housing to create new developments that consist of three elements: housing for private sale, shared ownership deals that are fraught with problems, and new social housing that’s smaller, more expensive and offering tenants less security than what is being destroyed.

The proposed destruction is part of a plan to build new housing not only on the site of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden and Reginald House flats, but also on the site of the old Tidemill Primary School, which closed in 2012. Peabody intends to build 209 units of new housing on the site, of which 51 will be for private sale, with 41 for shared ownership, and 117 at what is described as “equivalent to social rent”, although that is untrue. The rents on the latter will fall under London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s London Affordable Rent, which is around 63% higher than existing council rents in Lewisham.
[Read More]