Squatting is on the rise again in these times of austerity (see for example the recent occupations of flats in Southern Spain, mostly carried out by housewives and families). An Italian project that’s caught my attention since its beginning is in Pisa, where last year’s Occupy protests evolved into the reappropriation and transformation of abandoned buildings for the benefit of the local community.
The Occupy Pisa project started in November 2011 with the occupation of some old buildings owned by a bank in Pisa, with the aim of providing alternative and self-managed social spaces for the local community. After only a few months of successful initiatives, such as a low-cost canteen, courses and advice drop-ins, the building was evicted in February.
Evicted families have squatted a building in Seville. They are resisting despite having the water and electricity cut off.
“[i]Twenty families in urgent need of housing, organised through the 15M movement, have squatted an empty building in Avenida de Juventudes Musicales, (the Avenue of Musical Youth!) to make homes for themselves there under the name of Patio of Neighbours “La Utopia” and to “make visible the terrible housing problem that so many people suffer”.
In September 2009, hundreds of Carabinieri stormed a school in the Magliana area of Rome and arrested dozens of people who were occupying it. The charges made against them were super harsh: organised crime, extortion, possession of weapons, theft, assaulting police officers, and more.
The arrests took place during a relentless propaganda campaign orchestrated against the occupations by the local media. Several politicians, including Rome’s Mayor Alemanno, released statements in solidarity with the police operation, against those “dangerous criminals” that were hiding behind the occupations. A few people spent months in prison, some lost their jobs as a result of it.
Housing activist Jolanta Brzeska was murdered one year ago, burned alive in the Kabacki Forest. She had been fighting against the landlords, notorious slumlords Mossakowski and Massalski and was the only old tenant left in the building. She was abducted from her apartment and murdered violently.
Blikkiesdorp (i.e. 'tin can town) is one of a number of 'Temporary Relocation Areas', concentration camps, set up to house the urban poor in Cape Town. There are similar abominations in Johannesburg and Durban. This photo gallery has some pictures of Blikkiesdorp as well as the Symphony Way Occupation - which held out against eviction to Blikkiesdorp for many months before being defeated.
I hope to explain a bit more about the land grabs that have been happening in China for a number of years now. This should cover the reasons why it is happening and the effects it has had on the people of China.
I was in Hong Kong recently and somehow ended up having a strange conversation with a couple of Danish guys who worked on the mainland in a job that gave me a different insight in to what is happening in China. I don't need to go into much detail about what they said but just want to concentrate one of many things that they said, which stuck in my head.
The story of the first successful squatters of private property in Lambeth. In 1972, Olive Morris and Liz Turnbull, both members of the Brixton Black Panthers, occupied a flat above a launderette in Railton Road and successfully fought off attempts at illegal eviction. In doing so, they set an example for hundreds of homeless young people in Brixton and the flat remained squatted for many years.
At the end of 1972, Olive Morris and Liz Turnbull (Obi) found themselves without a place to live and not much money to rent. Taking the cue from a group of white women who had squatted a building on Railton Road and were running a Women’s Centre, they decided to inspect the area and find a suitable property.