UK: The Social Centre Bulletin. Fash Attack Pie ‘n’ Mash

I was going to leave the Bulletin for another couple of weeks but then fascists happened. It’s always fascist innit, they got a thing about social spaces. Kicking off and trying to spoil everyone’s nice time.
On the 9th Nov, down in Deptford in London, a couple of hooligans tried to smash their way into Pie ‘n’ Mash squatted community cafe with the intention of attacking the people inside. Obviously not appreciating the re-appropriation of their bit of rhyming slang (it’s “Antifash Pie ‘n’ Mash” now see :p) nor the signs of any community organising it seems. They’d been seen lurking around the streets of Deptford for a few weeks (even visiting the squat a few times) and had been caught being typical racist trash in the local offy spewing homophobic and racist slurs as the fella behind the counter in the run up to their assault.
Then a couple of Saturdays ago they thought they’d give the social centre a go, putting through the front windows and kicking in the door before bailing as support came down the stairs to see what the noise was about. It’s nothing more than a nasty attempt at intimidation from people who only know threats and violence. [Read More]

London: Fascist Attack At Pie ‘n’ Mash Squat in Deptford

Last night, Saturday the 9th of November, two bonehead hooligans kicked in the front windows of the Pie ‘n’ Mash squatted community cafe in Deptford, London.
After stomping around the streets of Deptford in the last weeks, and even entering the squat twice previously, the two hooligans demanded to be let in, in order to beat up the squatters, and then proceeded to put their steel-toes through the front door before scarpering as support arrived from upstairs.
The boneheads had been seen the night before in the off-licence (liquor store) abusing the owners, calling them taliban and making homophobic jibes, and seem to think they have a free reign of an area that has for many years been a stronghold of multiculturalism and antifascist community. We have since spoken to the shop owners who are excited to be part of organising against these wannabe-nazis, and we will be coordinating with anarchists, antifascists, and neighbourhood groups to keep these scum off our streets. [Read More]

Reading (UK): closed down pub re-opens as Kobanî House social space

The closed Red Lion pub in Reading was reopened and renamed ‘Kobanî House’ in solidarity with Rojava. The pub, located at Southampton Street, is currently occupied by a group of people and will be run as a social and political space.

One of the occupiers said: “In solidarity with the Kurdish Freedom Movement we decided to open this building to temporarily create an educational and social space for people to learn about the revolution. We have been tidying up and hope to make Kobane House a welcoming place for anyone to visit.”

The Turkish invasion of North-East Syria, a region known as Rojava, began on 9th October 2019 and is a violation of international laws. There are serious concerns that Turkey intends to ehnically cleanse the area. Earlier in October, there were reports that white phosphorous, an internationally banned chemical weapon, had been used against civilians in the region, after images and videos of badly burned, screaming in agony, children have emerged. [Read More]

UK: The Social Centre Bulletin. The Ups and Downs of the Cwtch

Eight years ago, near enough to the day, a handful of activists and homeless had some plans. The rain was chucking it down as we were stood outside our goal sizing the building up. It had been sitting empty for years, neglected and falling apart, a local icon left to fade. It was a suitable candidate for a pop up social centre, with a dozen large rooms, kitchen space, a welcoming atrium and, like I say, it was bloody pouring it down. Three of the crew would be sleeping on the streets that night, the city centre location was ideal and we were wet. So we jumped the gun. On finding a way in, we left out plans to the wayside and squatted the old Odeon cinema in Manchester and named it the “Cwtch Centre”.

It would be our home for a few hours tho, as after a very exciting urban exploration we discovered that it was asbestos ridden. While we started to gather the crew together, the place echoed with the banging of the police on our fire escape entry. We informed them of our squatters rights, they smashed the huge steel doors out of their frame. I had to kick the doors open to eventually let them in and was greeted with a pistol in my face, several armed men from S019, a couple of TAU vans, dog unit and a night kip in Swindon police station. [Read More]

UK: Chester’s homeless have had enough!

726 people died on the UK’s streets last year.

Well in excess of 120,000 people applied to their local councils to be recognised as homeless in the hopes of having access to meagre support.

Meanwhile 200,000 houses sit empty. Then there are all the commercial and industrial units lying dormant and decaying.

Chester, like most places during this latest wave of austerity, has seen a sharp rise in homelessness and rough sleeping with a piss poor response from the local council, with services and social support provided in as mild and cost-effective manner possible. During the tail end of last year when the council had an official tally of 17 “street-homeless people”, the local homeless support project “ForFutures”, itself ran on a council contract, would see over a hundred different people request refuge over a couple of months.

Earlier this year, ForFutures opened up a “Homeless Assessment Centre” on the ground floor of a large, empty, and council-owned office block called Hamilton House. Opened to great fanfare, this centre was going to be a one-stop-shop to help manage and limit the swelling crisis of homelessness Chester was facing. It was supposed to be an accessible 24/7 secure space for the most vulnerable in our community, the contact point for the homeless to a council which like the rest of them across the UK constrains its support behind a register of “unintentionally homeless”.
[Read More]

London: Squatter’s Digest, to our friends, and former room-mates

Summer is waning, holidays have been had, and so we all go back to the grindstone — and by grindstone I mean opening new squats. So let’s start by taking a look at who needs to open a new building.

Location, Location, Location (That’s A Squat Crew Moving Thrice In A Month)

In London, the Church, home to an endless number of benefit parties over the last year, finally met its demise at the hands of the bailiffs just a few weeks ago, leaving a particular void in terms of readily-available squats that are able to host such events (of course it does not escape me how a building can be fairly easily opened just a couple of days in advance of such festivities, but it does entail a whole lot more work). All and sundry are invited to fill this gap, such things are needed as at least one planned fundraiser was scuppered by this eviction.

In a similar area of south-east London, the Charity Shop squat on Deptford High St was re-opened temporarily. Used previously to great effect by the previous crew to organise local action in the neighbourhood, unfortunately the new crew have not been given much time as the owner seems to have gotten his shit together and gone immediately for an Interim Possession Order. [Read More]

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]