On Thursday 24th September in Greenwich, London, an illegal eviction attempt on a squatted building was thwarted by a combination of self-organised defence and bloody minded stubbornness.
At 6.30am, high court enforcement agents in black masks used heavy tools to cut the locks on the gate and attempted to force entry into the building using threats of physical violence. The occupiers managed to hold the door, and by 8.30am a crowd of around 30 members of London’s autonomous community had gathered to support them as they besieged people inside. The defenders travelled from across the city in support, including members of the newly energised Eviction Resistance Network, a gang from militant trans activists NFA Queer Punx, and legal support from the Advisory Service for Squatters.
Spirits remained high as the crowd dominated the car park area in front of the building, gradually managing to squeeze the bailiffs and their hired goons back with a consistent tirade of obstinant resistance. The crowd sang “Well I’d rather be a squatter than a scab!”, and one activist was able to begin deliveries of food and toilet paper to those locked inside via the scaffolding.
The bailiff business has continued unabated through lockdown, with companies being regularly engaged to remove trespassers who have not been protected by the coronavirus moratorium on evictions. They have also become increasingly accustomed to behaving like they are above the law. It quickly became apparent that the bailiffs had no court order, and therefore no power, to claim possession of the building. In UK law, trespass in commercial properties is a civil, not a criminal matter, and therefore should be resolved by presenting of evidence before a judge in a county court. Despite this being apparent, police remained ineffectual in investigating the criminality of the bailiff company and consistently, tediously, refuse to do their jobs properly and uphold the law. It was only once a tense stand-off between the bailiff dog units and the squatters began to escalate that the police withdrew all support and the bailiffs fled like the shameful crooks they are.
Now more than ever, with an encroaching wave of evictions looming in the midst of a global pandemic, we call for class solidarity and the demand for Zero Evictions throughout the crisis. Support your neighbours, join the rent strike, squat the lot and refuse to accept the criminal injustice of making people homeless during these unprecedented times.
FOR PEOPLE NOT PROPERTY!
OCCUPY AND RESIST!