Freedom News

New York: Defend the Skull Squat

On December 23, squatters and their friends defended Skull Squat in Brooklyn against shady developers and their goons who tried to break in, prevent residents from getting inside, and destroy the building. After forcing their way in three days in a row with hammers and grinders, the developers have been repelled over the last two days by dozens of punks, anarchists, neighbours and friends. The building has been squatted for the past six months by six trans, racialised, and white anarchists.

The promoters, two tenacious and violent brothers, do not own the building. They forced out long-term residents years ago, have allowed the structure to deteriorate, and hope to reclaim it once it is seized. They have convinced the police of their claim to “management” of the building through dubious work permits, which have allowed them to break in and injure those trying to defend the squat. Their alleged leases and permits have been declared invalid by several civil authorities.

An affordable housing co-operative owns the three-storey house and abandoned it years ago. It’s in an area we’re not supposed to be able to afford. But we found it, we fixed it up, and we’re living in it. And we’re not leaving without a fight.

By defending our house, we directly oppose the property development machine that wants to take this building, knock it down and build another in its place. The underfunded municipal bodies responsible for preserving affordable housing have long failed to protect the building, so we’re taking care of it ourselves.

Last week, Skull squatters woke to construction workers in their living room. The workers, equally surprised, called one of the developers, who called the cops. The police who attended established that we were residents – and therefore that it was a matter of civil law – and made the developer and the workers turn back.

A few days later, the other brother arrived with new henchmen. They pushed and kicked the squatters, made their way up to the first floor and locked it. The cops established that they had a right to be on that floor and stood by while they attacked us with iron bars and hammers. After they left, we removed their locks and reinforced the building’s defences, but they still managed to force their way in the next day. While the police continued to watch, they destroyed the first floor with sledgehammers and tried to break the water and sewage pipes in the basement. After they left, we took over the whole building again and spent the night thinking strategy and building barricades.

The following day, more than sixty friends and supporters gathered in a hurry after further attempts to break in. Then they tried again to open the front door with a grinder and, after a few moments, gave up and tried to grind down the lock on the trapdoor leading to the basement. In the legacy of 40 years of New York squat tradition, bowls of piss were emptied at them from the window. They then gave up trying to force their way in.

As I write this, friends from the local info-shop are laughing and chatting around a barbecue and folding tables full of food and drink. Yesterday, squatters from a neighbouring town played cards on the pavement, then quickly got in the way of the arriving henchmen clinging to each other. Old friends and fellow squatters reconnected on the barricades, and new links were formed between comrades from different subcultures and generations.

Tomorrow [from when this was written] is the winter solstice. The henchmen had not yet left when the sunset. Tomorrow, the sun will rise, the days will get longer and longer, and Skull Squat will still be standing and will be for a long time to come.

This article first appeared in

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