Update Fri 5th March: A new Social Centre has been squatted in 156 Fortess Rd in Kentish Town! Read report and list of events.
Update Thurs 26: People in and around the building are still determined to resist the eviction. [Report | Short video of picket]. Meanwhile, events at the Occupied Social Centre will continue as normal in resistance to the threat of eviction.
Update Wed 25th: The Occupied Social Centre still needs people urgently, as it is thought the police will be round sometime between now and the weekend. Supporters of the Centre state: "we intend to continue our resistance to the eviction".
On the 6th of January this year, after 6 months of neglect, 93 Fortess Road was occupied. The aim of the people involved was to set up a social centre, a free space for people in the local community to use as a resource and to create a place where people can come together and get creative. A place which is free, fun and accessible to everyone.
On Wednesday January 21st, the Social Centre was taken to court by the building’s owners - Mark Oliver Homes - property developers, who plan to demolish the building and turn it into commercial space and luxury flats. Following the court hearing, an eviction date was set for Tuesday 24th February. Early in the morning police and bailiffs arrived to Fortess Rd, but around 70 supporters of the Social Centre gathered o defend the space. With people occupying the rooftop, new defences having been constructed overnight (both inside and outside), supporters out on the streets and people inside ready to lock-on, it seems the eviction has been stalled, at least temporarily. It is not certain what will happen in the next few days, but what it seems clear now is that any eviction would require specialist bailiffs to remove people from the roof, cut others out of lock-ons and deal with the extensive barricade defences inside.
[Photos 24/02 | Fortess Rd Background | UK Social Centres | WOMBLES]
Come & have a go if ya think yer 'ard enough!
The main demand from the people occupying the Social Centre is to be allowed to stay until 31st of March, finishing the advertised programme of events at the centre, at which point they have said they will leave peacefully. They also say they want time to hold public meetings with the locals who have been using the building to find another venue to continue the project.
Occupying empty and derelict spaces and cultivating them as community spaces is important for us in having a direct say in our lives outside commercial business and the local authorities. No one is making a profit at our expense, and no one is gonna pull the rug when the cutbacks are required. What we directly put in is what we directly get out.
Anyone wanting to get involved or offer support or help resist any eviction, just get in touch or pop down there for a visit:
93 Fortess Road, Kentish Town, NW5
Nearest tube: Kentish Town
Telephone: 020 7247 1373
The week before saw another Social Centre in London also facing eminent eviction. Squatters had taken up residence in Harland First School in Colliers Wood last autumn following the local Council’s decision to close the school in August and sell the land to property developers Kings Oak Homes. On Monday 16 February, police and bailiffs moved in to remove the occupiers, but were prevented when many people, including local children, barricaded themselves onto the roof, dancing in the face of the big heavies who’d come to evict them. [Read Schnews report]
All of this was happening, ten years after the siege of Wanstonia M11 link Rd, when hundreds of anti-road protesters were evicted from a row of houses in Claremont Rd by an army of 600 police, security guards and bailiffs, in an eviction that took four full days to complete. [Photos and Report | Video]
Meanwhile, in Barcelona, massive squat evictions are also taking place. On Thursday 19th Feb, without any kind of warning (legal or otherwise), a large squatted warehouse known as La Makabra and home to about 20 people, were waken up by some 30 riot police battering the doors in at around 8.50am (7.50am UK time). The Social Centre which has been in existence for about 1 and a half years, was home to a circus space with trapeze, a gym, flamenco and yoga classes, a cinema, bike and motor workshops, a base for Indymedia Barcelona and party space. [Report from Urban75]
Since then, people and groups using and supporting the building have refused to go without resisting, and on Saturday 21st February, the building was reoccupied at 7am.[Report in Spanish] A Festival de Resistencia(Sp) was immediately called, with people continuously gathered in the building defending the Social Centre. On Monday 23rd, there was another attempted eviction of La Makabra, but it was also resisted by the Centre's supporters. [Timeline of events(Sp)]. As we write, the Social Centre is still open to the community.