SQUASH NewsRound: July – August 2013

The NewsRound is be a monthly post, keeping tabs on articles being posted in MainStream Media (MSM) sources, as well as independent channels (eg IMC, SchNEWS) about squatting, the new law (s.144) and possible new legislation (eg commercial). If you spot any articles of interest, please let us know by emailing: info@squashcampaign.org. Disclaimer: All views expressed in this blog are that of the compiler and not necessarily that of SQUASH.

Cardiff Squatters take on the System

Prison squat

The Cardiff squat-crew, the Gremlins, recently squatted the old Rumpoles pub opposite Cardiff prison, which had recently been bought by United Welsh – giant housing association – to build apartments as part of its “regeneration” plans for the area (yawn); the Prison Squat dropped a banner “Fire to the Prisons” and held a roof-top occupation and on-the-ground resistance when their eviction date came, successfully warding off the fuzz. The story was posted on Indymedia UK and even made it into Wales Online, with this story: “Masked squatters barricade themselves inside pub to avoid eviction “ [Wales Online, 8 August 2013] . The story has an interview with one of the Gremlins, and a hugely boring interview with an executive from United Welsh.

Another Cardiff crew, Antagonistic Collective Against Boredom (ACAB for short),  squatted the derelict Canton police station in Cardiff and turned it back over to community use as opposed to it being used against the community (eg the murder of Lynette White by the police). The venue hosted a punk gig  Monday gone to raise money for the Cardiff Squatters Network and have been using the building to highlight the barbarity of the new law against squatting (s144 LASPO), European evictions and the prison/ “justice” system. Here’s the communiqué from ACAB: “ACAB take over Canton Police Station in Cardiff” [IMC UK, 5th August]

Update: The Canton Police Station has been evicted, but not without a little resistance. To check out the photos and short report check: “Photos & videos from Canton police station eviction resistance in Cardiff” [IMC UK, 27 August]. Look forward to the next one….

The privatised prison service in England and Wales ensure that perverse incentives abound, where profit is made from locking people up, and private companies lobby for more punitive and harsher sentences so they can increase the prison population; to make it even more lucrative, prison companies are able to make inmates work for a few of pounds an hour, such as the recent call-centre debacle at HMP Cardiff (G4S) showed. Detention centres – read concentration camps – for immigrants is also a lush new concern for these dubious companies, who couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery but still seem to get lucrative contracts for putting people in concrete cells. Large multinational corporations like G4S and Serco are coining it, while people and communities suffer. See some coverage of the full-scale privatization of prisons from Corporate Watch here>

Squat-a-loo

A lady, Lin Patterson (67), has squatted her local public toilets in Bath, one of three that were being closed by the local council without any public consultation. Her brave act has saved the toilets temporarily while other solutions are investigated. While occupying a toilet may seem a rather small, even bizarre act, Lin’s reasoning is big, a first-step on a bigger journey, highlighting an issue which is completely overlooked (until you need a piss that is). Having lost a much-loved public toilet myself (run by a few elderly janitors/esses, lovely and clean, the radio playing in the background), Lin’s story resonates, and should make people realise that if squatting is fully criminalised, Lin’s bravery will be a reason to lock her (and those like her) up. The article here: “Bath Woman Occupies Public Toilet in Protest Against Council Closures” [IMC Bristol, 1 August]

The Mare that Broke the Camel’s Back

Mare Street

The gorgeous Georgian building in Hackney has been reclaimed by squatters again, a year or more after it was evicted. During the previous occupation, there were a number of brilliant events, such as the birthday party gig for Rythms of Resistance – the samba band – and an excellent pantomime about squatting using the story of the three little pigs. After evicting the previous squatters, dodgy property developers demolishing half of the building and generally took the piss, leaving it empty for another year, until it was eventually squatted again. The squatters have been working hard to bring the building back into use, creating a community garden out the front and holding their first event, a BBQ and open-mic night.

The wankers at the Evening Standard have done a little piece (of shit) on the squat; as usual, a warning about the press, they are like vampires, so that once you invite them in, they will put their own words in your mouth and call it “balance”. For another classic case of agenda-based journalism check out the Evening Standard article “Hackney mansion squatters: ‘There’s benefits to having us here,’ but neighbours disagree” [23 August, 2013]  and then compare it to the comments made on the 195 Mare Street blog under “The evening standard got us”[24 August]. The story was also picked up by the London Review of Books “At 195 Mare Street” [LRB Blog, 19 August 2013] .

[thanks to squat.net for the story]

“Made Possible By Squatting” Update

The Made Possible By Squatting squatters have had over 50 submissions for their exhibition, ranging from books, to performance pieces, to artworks, photography and much more. Along with almost century’s worth of archival material from squatting/ squats in England and Wales, the exhibition is set to be a stunner. However, it looks like one of the main uses of the exhibition, the promotion of squatting in Lush stores –the soap company –to highlight the plight of squatting under the new law, has been pulled at the last moment. Word on the street is that the CEO of Lush has put his foot down, even though the campaigns department are still well up for it. Why the sudden change of heart? Has Weatherley been round to his house and threatened to knife him? Maybe squatting is just too close to bone for some of Lush’s big spenders? Who knows, but “word on the street” will keep you updated as news unfolds….

The Mass Sleep Out campaign Begins

TMSO

Operation Sleep Out, or The Mass Sleep Out (TMSO), has been organized by housing campaigners to protest the Bedroom Tax, benefit caps and other Con-Dem legislation that is making people homeless. The campaign will see mass sleep-outs across 60 locations in the UK, with the first just happened in Brighton. The great indy journo rikki covered the event in “#OpSleepOut Brighton protest – report and pics” [IMC UK, 24 August 2013] , and judging from the reports, the campaign is gathering steam and energy. More info on the campaign and how you can get involved can be found at The Mass Sleep Out website.

Attacks on Squats in Germany and Greece

Berlin Raids

There have been two major spates of police attacks and evictions on squats on the Continent, all part of the European Super-State swinging far right.

On the 5th August, Greek riot police raided and closed down three squatted spaces in Patras, Parartima, Maragopouleio and the Self-managed Hangout in the TEI; 5 squatters and 11 supporters were arrested. This is just the latest in a general campaign against squats and progressive movements in Greece, led by Golden Dawn, the neo-fascist right in the Greek government.

On the 14th August, 300 police conducted dawn raids on Rigaer94 and then Liebig34, “looking for evidence”, holding the occupants for hours and removing everything from the squats. That evening 150 demonstrators gathered to show their disapproval, only to be met by a heavy police reaction. The resistance to these illegal evictions continues, summed up in the slogan: “Our passion for freedom is stronger than any authority”. The story here: Berlin: Raids and Demonstrations – “We are not scared”” [IMC UK, 16 August]

Solidarity banners were dropped and actions held across Britain to show support and ensure that people were made aware of what is happening.

International Squatting Stories

handbook

The Australian Museum of Squatting is an awesome resource, with material from a  100 or so years of squatting in Australia, from the Great Depression when landlords evicted thousands of people to the innovative social centres of the last couple of decades; the blog demonstrates the diversity of squats as a solution to homelessness, community spaces and their contribution to the rediscovery of forgotten urban geography.

Ghanaian Squatted Neighbourhood Threatened by Gentrification The global attack on squatting as a means to house oneself and live in an urban community is underway in Ghana where the Old Fadama “slum”, with its 80,000 inhabitants, is set to be bulldozed. The government has seen fit to start a programme of forced evictions from the slums in Ghana so that it can start building god-knows-what; in response the slum-dwellers communities have organised the Slum Union of Ghana and are fighting the government’s plans every step of the way. The article here: “Ghana’s Old Fadama Slum: “We Want to Live in Dignity”” [Think Africa Press, 7th August 2013]  and thanks to squattercity for the story.