Camberwell Squat Centre Lastest nrws

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Jason Cortez
Joined: 14-11-04
May 4 2007 09:25
Camberwell Squat Centre Lastest nrws



“Those who have by an unrighteous power made merchandise of the earth, giving all to some, and none to others, declare themselves tyrannical and usurping.” (The Diggers of Iver, Buckinghamshire, Mayday, 1650.)

In case you hadn’t already heard – yesterday, Mayday, the Camberwell Squatted Centre was in court. The alleged owners of the building,Silverside Ltd, were trying to get possession of the place so they
could knock it down and build whatever profit-oozing block of flats they can… We have been occupying the empty café and rooms upstairs since March 10th, housing several people and holding bar nights, film showings, cafes, meetings and more… In place of the destruction of the building we have breathed new life into it, and into ourselves as we paint and build and eat and talk. Hundreds of people have already passed through the space, played some part in its transformation…
After some ranting and raving, the representatives of the owners, Sean Davey and John Desmond, offered us a 6 month licence to stay in the place,since they obviously couldn’t press ahead with their dirty deeds immediately… We accepted as we felt we could get the Summer and see what happened; we didn’t specially trust them. And a week later they came back saying they’d changed their minds.So they issued court proceedings against us - for mayday! Our day! But their paperwork was clearly very poor, badly prepared, full of mistakes, showing no evidence that Silverside owned the place, and no evidence of how Sean and John fitted into the picture. We prepared our defence, with the help of some of the finest legal minds in London… Our defence was based not only on the various mistakes and omissions in their
application, but that we had a licence, granted by Sean and John, which had not been properly ended… We have no illusions in the sanctity or impartiality of the law, we only learn and lean on it as we can to our own advantage, knowing property ownership is at its heart, but knowing also we can slip through the loopholes sometimes to inhabit the cracks in the system a bit longer…
We also prepared a mayday picnic, to happen the same day, however the court hearing went we would dance, drink and play in Kennington Park…


So we went to court. From the first things fell out badly for our enemies.They were totally unprepared. Sean Davey and John Desmond turned up –without a solicitor, any further papers to show who owned the building,
without any director or officer of Silverside, without in fact, even a pen between them!

The judge accepted all our arguments about the failures in the paperwork, questioning John Desmond (acting the front man) about his role in Silverside Ltd. Who was he? Did he have the power to act in court? John Boy replied he would be the project manager, when building work started…
Not good enough, said the judge. To bring a claim for possession, you need a Director of the Company, or a properly appointed legal representative… A dodgy builder doesn’t hit the mark. Clearly the case would have to be adjourned until they sorted themselves out… Maybe there was a licence, maybe not. Did John or Sean Davey have the power to grant one? He didn’t know. In fact reading from our witness statements he questioned whether Sean Davey did in fact exist. A surprise to Sean, sitting there, who started to look like he wasn’t so sure either. In fact a minute later, he gathered his papers and left the court… maybe to check his existence in the mirror. John looked more like a rabbit caught in headlights.

Net result: adjourned, with no date set, Silverside have 2 weeks to come back with better papers, then we have some time to reply… A new court date will be set after May 29th. So we have another month or two at least… We will continue to hold events, hang out, contact locals and build, paint and dream… When we squatted the place we though we might get a week or two… It’s looking more like 3 or 4 months. Maybe we will be evicted sometime…we will see. In such uncertainties we all live, making as free and defiant a life for ourselves as we can, creating something exciting and argumentative from emptiness.

So from the court we wandered home, from the Squat we them marched through sunny streets to Kennington Park, formerly Kennington Common, enclosed in 1854 by the rich to prevent it being used by the radical and disorderly poor for meetings, parties, protests, games… From an enclosed space, an empty building thrown open by us, we moved to an enclosed space, fenced in 150 years ago, and the scene today of further attempts by the park Committee, more local wealthy worthies, to exclude crowds, volleyball and
football players, to make the park again a respectable imprisoned emptiness… We erected a huge maypole,made by us, with a CCTV camera on top of it to acknowledge how we are kept under surveillance, how space isoccupied and controlled against us by our ‘betters’. We danced around it,making music, playing games, eating and drinking, breaking bylaws and puzzling the police. A better day we couldn’t have dreamed of. We tore down some of the fences that surround our hearts.


The space is us. It’s also you. We hope you are inspired to come down, get involved, add to the mix, (or to make your own rebel space!) This Saturday, May 5th, from 12 till 6, we have an Open Day, we are throwing open the space for people to drop in, chat, find out more, get involved. We hope you can find your way here.
Meanwhile keep you eyes on our web site for a list of events happening in the space:

Onwards and upwards… Apologies for any ramblings. We do go on a bit, from enthusiasm mostly.

“For the Earth, with all her Fruits of Corn, Cattle, and such like, was made to be a common Store-house of Livelihood to all Mankinds, friend and foe, without exception.” (Gerrard Winstanley)