SQUASH NewsRound: July – August 15 (Mini-Update)

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.

Stories in SQUASH NewsRound: July – August 2015:

1] Assualt by Police on Person Entering Squat

2] Love Activist Free Family Summer Holidays

3] Squatting in Parliament

4] Mass Eviction of Fadama, Ghana

Much water has passed under the bridge since the last NewsRound in February 2015, too much to go into in this quick July-August 2015 update. We will be posting a dedicated “Squatting Spring” NewsRound in the next few weeks, outlining the actions that happened in the first half of the year.

Assault by Police on Person Entering a Squat in North London

ayles

SQUASH “Homes, Not Jails” (April 2015) report highlighted many of the abuses squatters face from landlords, private security and the police, and it seems that this is still going on. The following is an abridged statement from the victim of the assault on the 20th July 2015, as she tried to enter a squat in Willesden Green, North London:

“We are squatting the police station at Willesden Green […] and yesterday during the day the owners come in by jumping […] the police who open the doors for the owners to come in. They told us we had until midnight to get out. We didn’t [go] away and they said they will be [back] in the morning. Today they came and they check all [around] the place. They jump again. At around 16:10, I was coming [home] from my job, I stop[ped] to do my eyebrows and then I came to the squat. I was waiting for someone to open the door and when [someone came] to open the door, in [that] exact moment that […] a police car stop[ped] behind me and [a man] start[ed] running to the door. I was telling [the person inside] to close the door and the police officer was screaming to let it open […the person inside] closed it and [the policeman] starts kicking this door (it’s actually a bit broken in the bottom because of that).

[At the time] I was on the phone with my boyfriend who was not inside of our home. The police officer start shouting at me, telling me to tell [the person inside] to open [the door] and then he grab my arm with a considerable amount of force and was trying to take [away] my phone, saying that I was trying to call someone […] inside. I was trying to [pull] my arm [away from] the police and he didn’t let me go. He told me that he knew I was [in contact with someone] inside and I wasn’t. So I [said] I was just a free citizen in the street. […] I asked him [where] my freedom was and I was still debating to try to get free and at some point he let me go and I start walking fast in the direction of Willesden bus garage. I stay[ed] nearby and I call[ed] the police. I made a complain[t]. Note that I was not inside of the building during the all day, I was just in front of the door when he saw and grab me.”

Love Activists Holding Free Summer Holiday for Low-Income Families at Runnymede

ayles

As always, squats and squatters are doing positive projects with the resources they have. This latest offering comes from the Love Activists (famed for turning empty banks into homeless facilities) who are holding a Free Family Summer Break at Runnymede Eco Village (land squat), Cooper’s Hill, Surrey, between 13th – 17th August 2015, because “Every child deserves a summer holiday!” Activities will include: Rustic Adventure Play area, Live Storytime in the forest, Big Dig day (bring a spade or trowel), Arts and Crafts tent, Stage entertainment, and Workshops like Forest Foraging, and Den building. Check their facebook for more details: https://m.facebook.com/events/1005732502805053?ref=m_notif¬if_t=plan_mall_activity&actorid=1826182771

They’ve also called out for help, saying: “Is anyone in your organisation and/or network able to run any events or workshops during the camp? Are you able to network and share our event? – both to the families we’re opening the event to and any potential volunteers to ensure things run smoothly. Can you can donate a tent or any equipment, or would like to get involved with the activities and entertainment? Email to: love_activists[at]hotmail.com or Call on: 07531964949.

Squatting in Parliament

Squatting has been raised in Parliament only a handful of times, and at present there seems little appetite for a full-scale attempt to criminalise squatting in commercial properties (on the surface anyway). The subject has been raised by:

1] Philip Davies (Conservative, MP for Shipley) keeps raising the question with the Minister of State about “recent assessment […] made of changes in the prevalence of squatting in commercial premises following the introduction of [s144 LASPOA]”, no doubt with a view to extending criminalisation. His latest written question came on the 1st July, and as usual, he was rebuffed by the Minister with “We continue to monitor the situation closely.”

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2015-06-23.3649.h&s=squat#g3649.q0 (Hansard Citation: HC Deb, 1 July 2015, cW)

2] John Martin McDonnell (Labour, MP for Hayes and Harlington) during the Outlawries Bill, debating the reaction to the Queen’s speech, said in Parliament on the 27 May: “We will also see more occupations, particularly among the people in our capital city who are desperate to have a roof over their head and are forced to squat. We saw an example last year, when a young man was evicted from a squat and froze to death on its doorstep later that night.”

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2015-05-27b.34.0&s=squat#g119.0 (Citation: HC Deb, 27 May 2015, c119)

3] Squatting has been mentioned with regards a site in the Mole Valley constituency on which the Travellers have been living for the past 10 years; Chris Grayling (now Leader of the House of Commons) talking his usual nonsensical gibberish stating: “[…] people who claim to be Travellers should not be given special permission to establish fixed sites to live on permanently.”

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2015-07-09a.451.0&s=squat#g458.1 (Citation: HC Deb, 9 July 2015, c458)

International: Mass Eviction of 60,000 people from the Fadama Township in Ghana

ayles

Fadama has been mentioned in NewsRound previously, and continues to be a flashpoint between those seeking to make a life for themselves and their families through squatting, and the corrupt Ghana State, intent on creating some crazy mega-project called Millenium City. Below is a link to the petition put out by the Grassroots Women’s Internationalist Solidarity Action Network (GWISAN); even though the petition goes off on one, it captures the frustration with one of the largest organised displacements in recent times:

https://www.change.org/p/h-e-john-dramani-mahama-president-of-the-republic-of-ghana-flagstaff-house-accra-ghana-stop-the-barbaric-state-perpetrated-reactionary-violence-since-saturday-20th-june-2015-by-armed-soldiers-police-and-security-personnel-to-bulldoze-their-way-dislod?just_created=true