Last week a new squatter newspaper, Squatters of London Action Paper (SLAP), debuted online and today physical copies have started to emerge in squats and radical bookshops. Freedom caught up with a few of the authors to discuss the newspaper and squatting in London.
What is SLAP and what is it trying to achieve?
T: There’s been empty space for a squatting publication for a while now. It gives the illusion that there is less squatting activity in London – but this is not the case. SLAP is there to say: ‘There is still radical squatting activity going on in London. Occupations and resistances are happening all the time.’
A: There are loads of anarchist papers but nowt about squatting even though squatters are always on the front line of the fight for housing, free parties, against fash, whatever. So now there is. Also most of them are proper boring, you fall asleep trying to read them. So we wanted to do something that was a laugh.
S: I drew the pig man.
JA: SLAP is there to publicize squatting activities and related events but also it could be part of building closer ties between squatting crews and a radical squatter’s identity.
What is your political background? What groups are you particularly repping at the moment?
T: My politics have come from the need to squat. Housing, or the lack of it, is the big crack in the big society. Squatters at the Aylesbury and Guinness estates, the Fuck Paraders, eviction resistance networks like the Hackney Eviction Resistance Network are at the cutting edge of resistance in the war for housing.
A: I got into anarchism fighting fash and squatting in Berlin. I’m loving the little autonomous actions at the moment ‘cos anyone can do them, like when the front door of the Policy Exchange got boarded up against the Housing Bill.
S: Punk rock yo.
JA: I got involved politically through anarchist collectives in Brussels, mainly doing solidarity actions with migrants and homeless.
Squatting in London seems to be on the back-foot following the banning of residential squatting and the negative attention in the mainstream press. How do you think the squatting movement can grow in the coming years?
A: We need to be doing more social centres, and squatting in protest of gentrification and the killing of council housing. It’d also be helpful if a few bailiffs dropped dead of a bad case of the slashed wrists.
T: There’s a feeling of loss since the ban and an anticipation for the ban on commercial squatting. People I know lost their squats hours or days after the ban in 2012. Something like that stays. Now the fight is coming our way – whether we like it or not.
JA: We clearly need to create more autonomous spaces to fight back against gentrification. It’s really important that these autonomous spaces, like social centres, are focusing on the community and not only squatters and radicals. Squatters getting involved in eviction resistance within communities and helping people defend themselves from scum landlords and property developers.
Do you resist evictions and how useful are resisting evictions when resistances sometimes results in mass arrests?
A: Always resist! You always win in some way, even if it’s costing some cunt of a landlord a bit of extra cash trying to kick you out. We’ve had some great support from neighbours with evictions too.
S: Yes. If the goal is to one day keep our houses and never pay rent again then resistance is essential. Negotiations and leaving without a fight is defeatist as fuck and these are the tactics of a squatting movement on the way out and not the way up.
JA: Yes, of course. Coordinated resistance through a proper squatters’ network is clearly the way forward. I also think we need to be less reactive and go more on the offensive by targeting the different bailiff, security and guardian companies.
T: If negotiating with landlords is the only alternative, which it seems like, then resisting evictions is the only option. Landlord-friendly squatters are fine for themselves – for those who are “professional” or “quiet” enough – but are deluded for thinking landlords can share their interests. Resistance, on the other hand, can be for anybody.
There’s a new comedy about property guardians come out on the BBC. How much do you hate them?
A: On a scale of one to ten I hate them more than numbers. Infinity is not enough.
T: Property guardians deserve a slap.
S: Sounds like boring TV.
Check out the jpgs of SLAP below: