From Black Flag #216 1999.
As we go to press, the 18 year old squatted 121 Centre in Railton Road, Brixton, is under threat of eviction. The 121 collective had sought to argue in court that the owners - Lambeth Council - had lost the right to claim possession of the building under a law that restricts the right of owners to reclaim land that has been squatted for more than 12 years. The Collective lost the case on a technicality and on Friday 5th February were told that bailiffs would evict them the following Monday. Over the weekend the 121 Collective spread the word by flyposting the local area, distributing newsheets and contacting friends and allies.
The publicity drew links between the eviction of 121 and the general clearance of squatters from the area, the gradual gentrification of Brixton and the slow destruction of its street culture and communitites. Local response has been excellent! Mysteriously, local billboards have been revised and now carry jokes such as- 'How many developers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?' 'None, they prefer to screw up the neighbourhood instead'.
Meanwhile e-mails were being sent from supporters all over the country and the world to Lambeth Council. They replied, saying that the council needed the money from selling 121 to help do up Brixton for the locals... Fat chance, when previous money from City Challenge, earmarked for such worthy intentions, has been spent on over-inflated salaries for professional community wreckers and allowed yuppies to colonise Brixton's Town Centre, pushing the locals out of their homes, their pubs and even the local market (there are plans to knock parts of this down).
On the morning of the threatened eviction, the squatters were out in force. They barricaded the building against bailiffs and erected further barricades in the street. 70 protesters held the street for about 2 hours. The cops called off the eviction due to 'public order issues' and the barricades were temporarily dismantled as 45 squatters made their way to Lambeth Town Hall to show the council their determination to defend 121. They stormed the building and went straight for the council leader's office. Eventually the security guards and police back-up removed the squatters but they had proved that the council's building was easeier to get into than 121!
Another eviction date was set for February 12th and then quickly withdrawn as the council realised they will need a massive operation to get the 121 Collective and their friends out of the building.
In its 18 year history the centre has played host to all sorts of groups, ranging from Brixton Squatters to the Direct Action Movement and is known all over the world. It was also the home at various times of Black Flag, the Anarchist Black Cross, the Kate Sharpley Library, Bad Attitude (radical women's mag) and a host of other groups. There was a cafe, bookshop and regular benefit gigs ranging from punk to queercore.
For up the the minute info check out the 121 website at http://i.am.121centre. emails of support can be sent to [email protected]