Squatting in empty properties is now a criminal offence, but homeless people say they are being unfairly criminalised.
The ministry of justice estimates up to 2,000 people could be prosecuted each year [Al Jazeera/Simon Hooper ]
|London, UK – “Todd” was 18 when he came to the United Kingdom from Lithuania in 2005 in search of a better life. But things didn’t work out. By 2009, with the British economy ravaged by recession, he had lost his job and had nowhere to live.
“I had really bad depression so I couldn’t hold a job. I ended up sleeping rough on the streets. My mental health was deteriorating… I had suicidal thoughts,” he recalls.
Todd – an adopted Anglicisation of his Lithuanian name – ended up in Brighton, a town on England’s south coast with a reputation for tolerance, a vibrant arts scene and a homelessness problem. It was there that he began to rebuild his life, finding a vital support network among those squatting in the town’s ample stock of empty and neglected buildings and sometimes opening them up as impromptu galleries and cultural spaces.
“I call myself houseless, not homeless. We are a community and we help each other out,” he explains. “There is a lot of support and there is always somebody to talk to. Living like this, you’re always in control of your own life. You don’t have the money to support yourself food-wise, maybe, but you can go and get it from skips. It’s still the same food.” Continue reading “British ban squatting to pamper the 1% :Resistance Actions.”
Horny, Bossy and Wild..
Shaking out the feathers of my giant snowy wings.
Maggie’s ‘getting pregnant party’ was wild, but short, because she went home early to tell them all at the Assembly meeting at her house. Barney soon ushered everyone out. Delighted to be a dad-to-be. Ecstatic but exhausted.
–‘You done quite well Barney.’– I said, matronizingly, Continue reading “Serial of The Free, Ch 10. Horny, Bossy and Wild”
Rooftop protest as first Brighton squat busted under Weatherley’s new law
With the new squatting laws now in force, the first shot across the bows from Brighton Plod came this week when they waded into a London Road squat that had previously been empty for a year.
The first cops arrived around midday and the squatters explained that, since last week, no one was ‘living’ in the residential parts of the building and therefore no one was committing an offence. Unfortunately the police didn’t buy this explanation and eventually called in backup to smash down the door. While a jeering crowd of about 40 squatters, supporters and bemused passers-by watched, the police spent nearly ten minutes attacking the front door with a battering ram. Continue reading “Occupy the Roofs: Squatters Resist UK Evictions”
Occupy Pisa grows and evolves
by Italy Calling 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 low-cost social canteen
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. The eviction didn’t stop them though, as they went on to set up a permanent camp in the nearby Piazza Dante, which was used as a base to organise pickets and demonstrations, and to keep engaging with the local residents. Thanks to these tactics the project has grown from being an activist-based movement to being a mixed group of people from all sorts of backgrounds, including students, precarious workers, unemployed people and local residents of all ages.
After the global day of action against austerity on May 15th – which in Italy was focused on Equitalia, the Italian state-owned tax department – the project decided to move on and occupy an abandoned sports centre, disused for the last 6 years despite the local residents’ requests to re-open it. The works at the “Nuova Periferia Polivalente” started straight away and culminated with a public assembly on June 3rd to discuss ideas and proposals for the project, which obviously include renovating the sports facilities, but also creating social spaces for adults and children, an employment-focused area to organise the local workers and an “Anti-Equitalia Advice Centre” for people in debt. The low-cost social canteen – one of key elements of the project since its origins – will come back with a newly built outdoor wooden oven.