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]

London: Queens in Furs guided tour of Brixton

In the 1970s Britain was saturated in political activity right across the board. Not just in the Labour movement, trade unions and the Left but also the new social movements were particularly active in challenging the oppressive established order especially the black, women’s and gay liberation movements. The environmental, countercultural, squatters’ and claimants’ organisations were also fully engaged in defending people against poverty, homelessness, the destruction of the environment and experimenting with ‘alternative’ lifestyles. Throughout this period the anti-apartheid movement, the Anti-Nazi League and Troops out of Ireland challenged the racist regime in South Africa, the growing menace of racism and fascism and the continuing military occupation of Northern Ireland. In the early 70s there were still lively anti-Vietnam war demonstrations. Much of this ‘crucible’ of radical activity provided the ingredients for how politics were practised locally in Brixton.
[Read More]

London: Streets Fest on Monday!

CALL OUT TO ALL SQUATTERS / HOMELESS / TRAVELLERS
All Day Free BBQ / Hairdressers / Doctors / Vets / Showers / Opticians / Housing, Squatting, Boat Advice / Free Clothes /

#STREETSFEST #STREETSKITCHEN #FINSBURYPARK #NFAAF

Bringing together 50+ groups and services
Monday 10th September – Finsbury Park (2pm – 8pm)

[Read More]

London: Check out that A.S.S.

Squatters beware – there have been multiple cases in the last few weeks of people being arrested for burglary when squatting a place. With that in mind the Advisory Service for Squatters (A.S.S.) would like to remind people a few things to keep them safe if faced with arrest:

  1. No comment – You might be able to explain your situation to the police, but in 99% of cases what you say to them will not get you out of the cells any faster, and can be used to incriminate you or any other people arrested. If you go to court it can all be used against you, especially if you are caught fibbing to the rozzers. Say NO COMMENT to any questions the police ask you and keep you and your crew safe.
  2. Have a bail address – someone who doesn’t mind telling the police that you stay with them sometimes and that you can possibly stay with for a bit if the police do put any bail conditions on you. You don’t want to give them an excuse to keep you in prison.
  3. Know a legal firm to call – don’t in any circumstances take the duty solicitor provided by the police. Remember the name of one of the solicitor firms on the bust card, available at all good anarchist soical centres and refuse t have an interview until your lawyers are called.

Good luck out there! Feed the pigeons!

From Squatters of London Action Paper Issue 9 (pdf) – back issues here

NFA Antifascists

London: Report back from TAA May

Temporary Autonomous Arts was in May determined to return to its roots as a squatted exhibition. A decrepit long term empty in Bow was transformed into a blank canvas by the TAA mob, who then were boosted after 24 hours notice after a rapid-response possession order requested them to attend High Court in Birmingham. Undeterred, a second building was snatched in North Woolwich and repurposed against the clock. The TAA opened as planned on the Wednesday to a splatter of spoken word,followed up by a blinding cabaret gig featuring public urination, wild drag anarchy from Jizmik Hunt and the body-positive monarchy-bashing of Glittasphxia.

Saturday things started turning sour, with a day of escalating violence and conflict between the squatters and locals over accusations of the graffing of a pie’n’mash shop and breakins by kids into thee building culminating with 20 roided-up cops turning up to face-off against the 60 or so mob holding the courtyard. The gigs were
cut short after the cops broke out the Criminal Justice Act and threatened to seize the sound system. Concerned for the safety of the artworks, equipment and liberty of the guests, the TAA crew elected to keep the music off and let the night deflate like a wet fart in a wet paper bag. Opinions are divided, with some people furious
that another building in London has been burnt for the sake of a “anarchohipster lollapallooza”, and others
arguing that the TAA crew made a tactical decision in a tight spot.

From Squatters of London Action Paper Issue 9 (pdf) – back issues here

NFA Antifascists

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London: Kurdistan Place

Kurdish youth and supporters, some linked to Plan C, have occupied a vacant building near Edgware Road.

Kurdistan Place was occupied by friends of Anna Campbell last week in solidarity with the Kurdish Freedom Movement. In a statement, the occupiers said:

We want this space to enable learning about Kurdish culture and Kurdish liberation’s emancipatory politics. We also want this space to enable solidarity and anti-capitalist organising. Anna was involved with a similar project in 2012 called Palestine Place, an occupation of a building in Chancery Lane, which was set up to highlight the need for solidarity, support and knowledge about the occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the ongoing siege of Gaza by Israel and Egypt. We want to use this space as a means to promote radical social change and revolution.

[Read More]

UK: Should we be worrying about a further assault on squatting rights?

On the 8th May the Evening Standard carried an article titled “Squatters law has wiped out almost all illegal home invasions in London” pointing out that less people were arrested for squatting in residential properties last year than when S144 first came in (what a surprise!).

On the 11th May some Tory MP called Philip Davies wrote to the Secretary of State for Justice [sic] to ask “what assessment he has made of changes in the prevalence of squatting in commercial premises following the introduction of the criminal provisions contained in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012” (to which the answer was that no data is collected).

Neither of these is unusual, but as the last attack (leading to S144) started with attacks from the “Standard” and some Tory MP, we should be prepared for an upsurge in attacks and for calls for full criminalisation.

But this time round, thanks to the Sofia House squat, other occupations, the Grenfell Tower disaster and other events, squatting, and generally requisitioning empty properties should be more easy to defend/push for. And we seem to have a leader of the opposition who would hopefully be less pliant.

Source

Durham (UK): Violence at protest camp eviction

Since the start of March, campaigners living at the Pont Valley Protection Camp, between Dipton and Leadgate in County Durham, have been protesting against opencast coal mining by the Banks Group, which has only until 3 June to extract coal from the mine before its planning permission runs out.

The camp was set up after petitions, open letters to the Secretary of State and the discovery of a protected species of great crested newt all failed to stop the mining from going ahead.

Between 19 and 21 April, the camp was evicted by bailiffs and seven campaigners were arrested. They have complained that during the eviction, bailiffs showed little consideration for individuals’ safety and subjected then to continuous abusive and sexist behaviour, which the police who were in attendance took no action against.

Instead, police officers used ‘section 35’ dispersal powers, intended for tackling anti-social behaviour, to disperse witnesses from the area.
[Read More]

Bournemouth (UK): Second Sanctuary eviction

The Sanctuary occupied homeless camp on Ashley Road, east Bournemouth, was evicted yesterday {March13}, leaving rough sleepers struggling to find anywhere safe to stay or put their belongings.

The camp was the second set up by homeless people working with Occupy Bournemouth activists in the wake of a brutal New Year eviction of a site on Exeter Road, opposite the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) in which bailiffs tore down and crushed people’s belongings despite freezing conditions. An Occupy activist said:
[Read More]

London: Radical Residency

Welcome to the Radical Residency! This is a space created by students, artists, radicals, unwaged and waged workers and activists. Radical Residency was set up by poc, queer and radical peeps who scrawl their joy and their rage upon the walls. We put on workshops and events that challenge traditional education and political institutions. We celebrate through solidarity, music, art and learning. We nurture self-development and self-awareness, being reflective and critical of all that we know and that we strive towards. Drop your binaries and your prejudices at the door and actively engage through radical listening and participation.

On Friday 9th March we are having our hearing at 3:30pm at the County Court at The Mayors and City of London Court Guildhall Buildings, Basinghall Street, London EC2V 5AR. We are calling for support and solidarity. Share with your comrades and help us remind the trustees of the British Museum who the real thieves are.

Below is our manifesto:
[Read More]