This is the story of Tent Town, a camp of protest against the problem of homelessness in Glasgow and the people neglected by Glasgow City Council.
Tent Town had two purposes from the outset: to shelter homeless people who had lost out on the closure of the Hamish Allan Centre and the closure of the winter shelter on the 31st of March and to to make a clear statement to the Council: it is a disgrace that homeless shelters are closing while so many councillors live in luxury and comfort.
The camp itself began on the back of the Glasgow Anonymous group’s 48-hour soup kitchen Op, Stock & Roll in George Square. There were up to 20 tents at the camp for homeless people to have shelter and a gazebo where food was cooked and tea and coffee served.
Tent Town succeeded on the solidarity of volunteers, the contributions and efforts of some who stayed at the camp and the generosity of the people of Glasgow, and its visitors, who donated food, money and supplies. While material resources were of course invaluable, much has to be said for the coming together of everyone from different backgrounds to try and make Tent Town work, from private individuals to activists affiliated with radical groups such as Anonymous Glasgow and Glasgow Anarchist Collective.
That there was a camp in front of the City Chambers, such a visual reminder of the problem of homelessness in the city, was clearly an embarrassment to the Council. So much so, that they attempted to evict the camp through the Sheriff Court. This in itself shows us that they are gutless and heartless bastards.
While the court case took place on the Wednesday, some of us remained at camp in case the Council and Sheriff’s officers tried to forcibly evict residents. They never did, but neither was it ever beyond them to be so sneaky.
The initial court judgement gave residents of Tent Town 48 hours notice of eviction, although this was extended to six weeks upon appeal. The appeal was taken to the City Chambers and it was signed for by civil servants of the Council, so that we had confirmation that the Council had notice of the six week extension.
Given we had this six week extension, the long term goal of the camp evolved into helping residents to find accommodation and putting them in touch with action teams who could help them with what addiction issues they had. While we had this constructive long-term goal, between the uncertainty of eviction and the terrible weather, it was very difficult to establish that network of contacts that we needed to help the camp residents. A lot of time was spent holding together the camp itself.
The CID appeared on the Friday and informed us that the Council were going to attempt to evict the camp, as per the initial 48-hour eviction notice. However because Sunday is not a day of business, the Council couldn’t go through with the eviction until Monday.
The Sunday passed without event, yet the decision was taken to move the camp to the opposite side of George Square, simply because each side of George Square has its own postcode and thus making a new eviction process for every movement of the camp around the square.
On the Monday, the CID again came forward to inform us that the Council and Sheriff’s officers were going to attempt to forcibly evict the camp. The police, on the other hand, said they weren’t keen to evict unless everyone was in emergency accommodation. The Chambers were then occupied by people from the camp until councilors agreed to come and speak about the future of the camp residents.
This resulted in a heated series of meetings at The Hub on London Road, where the Simon Community agreed to house everyone or assist them in finding their way back home if they didn’t come from Glasgow.
25 people were assisted into accommodation and 6 were helped back to Manchester, London and Northern Ireland.
Our ground was stood and we won; volunteers and residents together, we beat the Council and forced them to retreat on their neglect for the homeless of the city. It showed the people of Glasgow that they can make a difference to their situation by working together against authority and injustice.
Sound Thief (Glasgow Anarchist Collective)
Glasgow Anarchist Collective (GAC), is a dynamic, grass roots, direct action group, which aims to promote the values and principles of Anarchism. Early forms of Anarchism in Scotland can be traced back to the 1880s. Glasgow Anarchists took part in every single strike & labour protest during 1915-1920. The noted Scottish Anarchist Ethel McDonald, 1909-1960, (Glasgow Anarchist Group), left a ‘venerable history of revolt’ and an Anarchistic legacy still respected today. Hailing from a city so steeped in the spirit of revolt, libertarian, and Anarchist history; GAC was formed in 2014 – by individual anarchist activists, whom had previously campaigned together, and felt a need for an ‘active and visual’ Anarchist voice within the city of Glasgow and the wider environs of Scotland.