East London squat evicted illegally

A squatted building in East London was evicted illegally, facilitated by police, last week.

Submitted by panic_rant on June 10, 2014

On Monday June 2nd, at around 6pm, a squatted building in on New North Road, East London was illegally evicted by security, bailiffs and police, resulting in a thirteen hour stand-off. The building, an old car wash, is completely abandoned and going to be demolished. It is owned by Royal Mail and due to be the site of a new post office, since the old one nearby is being closed down to build luxury flats.

Having legally secured and occupied the building and yard, the occupiers met with a security guard earlier that day, who seemed happy for them to be there. The occupiers were stunned, therefore, when at around 6pm six different security guards leapt over their secured gate. Three of the squatters came out to meet them whilst others locked themselves inside. The guards shoved past the squatters, claiming to represent their client, and had come to reclaim the building. They ignored every insistence that this was a completely legal occupation.

One of the squatters occupied the rooftop in protest, knowing that it would be impossible for the bailiffs to safely remove him. When the police arrived, it was obvious whose side they were on, shaking hands with the security guards and trusting their version of events outright. The police said the security guards had the legal right to occupy the yard, which is not true – the gate was secured, and they had no legal right to enter the premises. The police then said that the security guards could occupy the yard, but could not enter the building.

This resulted in a stand-off – the people barricaded inside the building could not leave, as it would meant they would be on the security guard’s territory and refused re-entry. The two remaining in the yard were told they would removed if they did not leave, and so they left the premises, waiting outside the gate.
Here, a crowd of forty gathered – a mixture of squatters and sympathetic public acting in solidarity with the rooftop occupier. The hired thugs were consistently aggressive with the crowd, who in turn became increasingly angry. One of the security guards completely lost his temper, openly starting fights with people in the crowd, his aggressive behaviour unchecked and allowed to slide. But the crowd were organised in their defence, frequently grabbing people out of the grip of the security.

A friend of the rooftop occupier slipped under the gate twice, getting him a beer and then attempting to join him in solidarity. Even though she was only trespassing, on both occasions the security handled her violently. On the second occasion, she was assaulted, forced to lie on the ground, and one of the guards told her she was “under arrest”, despite him having no powers to arrest (as well as trespassing not being an arrestable offence in the UK). Both times, she was let go after much back and forth between the squatters and the guards.

Despite the fact that the squatters were told by police that the bailiffs could not enter the building, after a few hours that is exactly what they did. They burst through the roof and kicked the front door in. The two people barricaded inside were forced out, the illegal eviction overseen and facilitated with police protection.

The cops never wavered in their support for the heavies. For example, when police witnessed a security guard punching someone in the face, the security guard was merely asked to give a statement and then let back to work. A few hours later, someone in the crowd was arrested for an assault which never occurred, detained for 40 hours and is currently going through the distressing court process for no reason . The police frequently made their disdainful views on squatters known. All this, while at the same time keeping up the ludicrous facade that they were “neutral”.

At 7am, after 13 hours of his rooftop occupation, the last squatter on the premises left. He was understandably physically and emotionally exhausted, with very little food or water over that period. There was no hope of the squatters reclaiming their home back.

This is a timely reminder of what the most vulnerable in our society are up against. In this case, violent forces of authority have colluded to ensure the protection of abandoned property at the expense of those who cannot afford a home. This is a class-based conflict: the rich and powerful deploying fully paid up scabs like police, security guards and bailiffs to safeguard their interests.

There has been some heartening displays of eviction resistance in recent years. We need to share our experiences and consolidate our solidarity with squatters, tenants and anyone else on our side. Whether we like it or not, this is a class-based conflict. We can only expect protection from each other. Our human right to shelter is being attacked. We know the enemy, we need to be prepared to defend ourselves from them.