The following is an attempt at a non comprehensive summary of the actions, demonstrations, gatherings and various initiatives that happen during the days of action for squats and autonomous spaces. The summary was created from reports on the IMC UK newswire and english language reports posted to the April2008 website.Note: A more comprehensive summary now exists on the April2008 website..
In defence of squats and autonomous spaces
EnglandEarly April, a new squat was opened in London with it's launch to coincid with the Europe-wide days of action in defence of free spaces and a series of events took place in autonomous spaces around London.
The weekend kicked off on Friday evening with a social meetup and info night with films and cafe at threatened rampART social centre. There were also acoustic bands and performances at the nearby squatted NO:ID gallery.
On saturday, the newly opened social centre opened it's doors with an art-exhibition and films plus badly organised workshops and discussions. The space also hosted a free shop and very popular squatters estate agency with a display showing a number of empty properties around London along with details about their location, history and suitability for squatting. Available properties ranged for abandoned houses and flats, to pubs, shops and even government buildings. People could add details of other buildings or put down their contact details to meet up with other to go open buildings.
Also on saturday there was a demo at a homeless hostel and several hundred people partied at benefit gig for the Advisory Service for Squatters that took place at the Hackney Social Centre (also threaten with eviction this month). Another benefit took place at the soon to be evicted Wominspace.
In Reading, a squatted community garden was reopenned for the day, with a community BBQ and music show. There has been a ongoing struggle with the authorities over use of the land which had been left a derelict junkyard for at least five years previously.
Bristol UK. A vacant city centre building, the Little Theatre in Colston Street, was occupied by homeless Bristolians as part of a co-ordinated day of action round the world.
Nottingham UK saw the Old County Hall occupied as part of the international days of action. The Council sold it off in 2000 and it has remained empty for years. During the weekend people put this marvellous and significant building back into good use.
Manchesters Space invaders were really busy, months ago using the Archways squat as a hub for plotting towards the days of action intending to use it as the central venue but it was evicted before the weekend. Instead a spacious new squat in Hulme became the venue used for the weekend and Jackson's Wharf pub was also squatted by a hundred people after a 'free spaces' protest in the city centre on Saturday. It was turned into a drinking den again for a couple of hours but then abandoned. The big finale was supposed to be the a large warehouse party in Ancoats but while 500 people made it in before 1am a large-scale police operation prevented 300 more from entering and the whole thing was shut down by 2am.
A temporary autonomous zone was established in Digbeth, Brimingham and became the venue of three days of workshops, talks and discussion on diverse themes: from the struggles of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, to the Disability Rights Movement in the UK; from 12v power workshops, to ’seed bombs’ and guerilla gardening; from public sector workplace organising, to bicycle repair. Hot food was served each day with music in the evening and spontaeous sculpture and painting popping up around the building throughout.
In Brighton pixies reclaimed public spaces with some banner dropping. Police didn’t show up and the weather was great. The day had started with some tree climbing. After few hours the first banner was dropped. The bender was then erected on the Level and the food acquired from skips was displayed on the table to be eaten for free by the members of public. The second banner was dropped an hour later. The crowd gathered and there was some guitar playing to follow by the after-party.
In Leeds a closed down council housing advice centre was squatted and reopenned. Ironically the council had left a sign reading "The Housing Advice Centre Is Changing." and it certainly has - giving out advice on squatting, autonomous spaces, alternative housing advice and anti-gentrification info. A report said, "It was the most open squat i've ever seen- having the doors wide open on a busy saturday right in the middle of the city centre... loads of people coming in for advice on squatting, to read some of the info, watch a film or just sit and drink tea."
Also in Leeds offices of Angel Group were attacked - slogans painted, and locks glued. 12 company vehicles damaged with paint stripper, spray paint, and had their tyres slashed. The group make their money by providing poor quality housing for asylum seekers, profitting from vulnerable people and racist asylum laws. This company were targetted as part of the days of action in support of squats and autonomous spaces because housing is a right, not a means to make profit.
FinlandIn Helsinki around 150 people demonstrated today for free spaces, and headed to house squatted at sunday in Töölö district. Weekend will continue as GhettoXperience -fest with workshops and gigs.
In Turku a new house was squatted, and a festival going on for whole weekend with a street party in Tampere and Jyväskylä. During the first weekend hundreds of people visited at the Free Culture Festival, which was organized in Jokikatu. All kinds of culture happenings have taken place at the house, from puppet theatre to punk-gigs. Painting, writing, free movies and food also… Surprisingly the city has agreed to let us use the house and we are very happy about it.
Saturday afternoon there was a street party in Tampere, with ca. 250 people that went through the city and squatted an old wooden house in the district of Pispala. House has been empty since last August, and it is destined to be demolished to make room for office buildings and flats. Free food provided from dumpster diving and a party in the central market square. Journalist coverage and police awareness, but no arrests. Long march in solidarity with occupation with squat banners, Anarchist and Food not Bombs (Ruokaa ei aseita!) provided food.
SwedenIn Gothenburg, 50 activists squatted an abandoned floating restaurant for 24 hours. A banner claiming the boat as a social centre was hanged out and the three floors above sea level were cleaned up and made into activity areas, dormitories, chill out areas and meeting spaces. Good food was served in the restaurant and there where soccer, games and hangout in the sun on the roof. The cops came quickly to the dock and some of the activists, who chose to leave earlier, where identified whereas those who left after 24 hours came out safely. The action was seen as successful and inspiring, showing that there are possibilities to make at least time-limited squattings in Gothenburg and that there is both a need and an interest for free, anti-capitalist spaces.
A house in central Umeå called “Tullkammaren” was squatted. Some 30 people entered the building around 17:00 on Friday and barricades were built quickly, followed by banners dropped from windows with messages like “Struggle for Ungdomshuset”, “Support for the autonomous meeting spaces of Europe: Ungdomshuset, Köpi, EKH, Blitz & Soumi Squatters”, “Fight for a world with space for many worlds”, “More free spaces” etc. The occupation ended at 23.00 and the occupiers left through a cellar door and got away.
NorwayIn Oslo activists reclaimed the streets started up in front of the city hall with barbeque, beer and music. Later on the street moved over to Bjørvika were the new Opera-house was opened. The politicians use billions of kroner on high culture, but have no room for the youth and the autonomous movement. The party continued throughout the night at the threatened squat Brakkebygrenda.
DenmarkIn Copenhagen things kicked off early with an huge demo in support of creating a new Ungdomshuset (Youth House). 5000 people took part followed by a massive street party. Since then all parties have agreed a deal on a new building.
NetherlandsOn April 5th, a demonstration in support of autonomous spaces and squats took place in Amsterdam, announcing the april2008 action days. Some 200 people took part, together with sound-systems, street theatre, and speeches.
During the days of action, two big buildings were opened in Nijmegen. The old postal building on the station square was squatted. In Amsterdam an empty building on the terrain of the state museum was squatted (video) and became the base for actions over the weekend.
In Amsterdam there was a reclaim the streets party (a href="/en/2008/04/397461.html">video). It arrived back at the Rijksmuseum, standing in the little street in front of the building, listening to bands and speeches.
In Rotterdam a bicycle tour showed that squatting is a part of the culture of a city. We cycled through the areas of ‘het oude noorden’ (the old north), ‘crooswijk’, ‘kralingen’, Centre and ‘kop van zuid’ (head of south) and in almost every street we passed a squat, an ex squat or a hole where first a squat was.
FranceIn Dijon, France, a group of some 80 people gathered in front of the Préfecture (local representation of the state), blocked the road with banners (”Solidarity with illegal immigrants” & “Free Ivan & Bruno now!”) and filled the street with smokebombs, in solidarity with two activists, Ivan & Bruno, who are waiting for their trial in jail, accused of “terrorism” after being caught with smokebombs, on their way to an illegal immigrants’ solidarity march. After an hour of successful road-blockade and chanting slogans, demonstrators left. The police stood near throughout the action with a few vans, but didn’t make any move.
Also in Dijon, a temporary autonomous zone was set in the city centre at 2pm, with a free zone, an infokiosque with tons of leafets and fanzines, music, vegan food, a billboard subvertising workshop, and a photo exhibition on squats and social movements. A hundred people gathered to demonstrate through the streets, carrying banners against the eviction of the Mat-Noir squat, and in defense of autonomous spaces around the globe. Smoke-bombs were lit as pro-squat graffitis were being sprayed, slogans were being chanted, posters were being glued and advertisments were being sabotaged. The demonstration ended with the resquatting of the Toboggan, a former squat that was evicted by the city council a year ago, and left empty since then.
GermanyIn Erfurt, the Besetztes Haus organised a demonstration which surprised the authorities due to fake announcements. The police could not find the party in the city center, as claimed on flyers before but had to deal with a group of about 150 people which arbitrarily proceed through the city, passing freely by all important spots in the city center. Eventually the police surrounded and stopped the demonstration.
In Berlin, a group of about 30 persons payed a visit to the owner of the Rigaer Strasse 94, Oliver Rohn. Flyers were distributed to the neighbors to inform them about the case. A pirate radio station was set up for weekend.
In Rostock, people “occupied” a children’s playground besides the place with lawn chairs. This resulted in the arrival of about 8 personal carriers of the police and some patrol cars. Eventually, the police checked the ids of the playground occupants. Later a radio ballet took place at the Uniplatz.
AustriaIn Vienna a demonstration for autonomous spaces took place. Some 300 people participated. After the demonstration a new wagenburg was squatted in Arsenalstrasse, 3rd district of Vienna. There a party started with soundsystems and some 200 people and few police. In Graz a building in Annenstraße 3 was squatted on Friday evening . In Innsbruck some 150 people squatted a building and started a party. There was also a “bimparty” (bim means tram) with over 100 people on several trams and then the metro.
After two powerful and motivating days of action, hundreds of people squatted a building in the city centre of Vienna at Spitalgasse 11. The five-storey building has been empty for many years. By early afternoon police started showing up and announced they would evict. By evening almost hundred riot cops, four ambulances, police dogs, two police helicopters and four fire brigade trucks surrounded the building. One person was brutally arrested, others violently kicked aside and edia activists move away. After about an hour and a half the police had removed those outside the building and smashed their way through baracades into the building. It took them another three hours to empty the building.
In Graz a building in Annenstraße 3 was squatted on Friday evening. On Saturday a street party and workshops are planned there.
In Innsbruck some 150 people squatted a building and started a party. They demand more autonomous spaces. Report from Innsbruck (de)
ItalyIn Turin a block of squatters, masked as politicians, brought 400 hundreds pounds of concrete wall and brix ruins of a former evected squat in the front of the entrance in the turin city hall. During the action some flyers flow up, and a flag with this message: “Chi vota paga e i danni sono suoi” The more you vote, the more you pay-and the ruins are yours” was attached.
In Milan a new squat was opened to denounce the lack of space of aggregation, the lack of living space and prohibitive prices of the houses.in Milan.
SpainIn Barcelona, 12 different buildings that have recently have been evicted and bricked up and/or demolished. Banners were dropped with various slogans protesting eviction and supporting autonomous spaces internationally. Sunday had a reclaim the street action.
Around 200 people gathered in Plza de la Virreina, flyposting details of up-coming events in the city and making pro-squat and anti-police graffitti. The demo passed by the bricked up shells of many evicted social centres in the neighbourhood, decorating them with graffitti and posters explaining the history behind the now lifeless buildings. The demo arrived at Ronda General Mitre, 9 (in the Plaza Lesseps), and people, protected by the demonstration, succeeded in entering the long-empty building. The new squat was then secured while people outside handed out flyers to those passing by, explaining the social, political and economic reasons for occupying the building.
In Madrid, a demonstartion with the moto “For a life without burden, against Bologna, anti repression and for delight” went through the University quarter today between 12h and 14h. After passing at the Department of Physics, the demonstration occupied the Facultad Okupada Autogestionada (FOA), an abandoned building and former plenary hall. A short meeting took place inside the building and the activists decided to leave it to just set a symbol. The demonstration continued afterwards.
Between 400 and 500 people paticipated at a demonstration to celebrate the first anniversary of the social center la Traba in Madrid. The demonstration started at la Glorieta de Embajadores and ended at the social center where a concert took place in the evening.
GreeceIn Athens, L.Karagianni 37 squat celebrated it's 20th aniversary with a 3 day festival, with theatre plays, a concert, video documentary from the history of the squat and discussion, on April 11,12 and 13.
Czech RepublicPrague had a street party with masks, sound systems, some infos on evicted places and on previous squatting actions, attended by some 300 people. Went for a march and put two banners on empty buildings. No problem with police.
On Saturday 12th, a concert and an exhibition of paintings and photos were held in a new squatted house Viktorie, in Ropice (occupied on 1st March). The concert was ended by police intervention, only three bands had played.
HungaryIn Budapest a banner was hung on a briefly occupied building, reading 'Autonom Space for Budapest!'. The house had been empty for 2 years but after 3 days it was closed again as the group of eight could not stay there all the time.
LithuaniaIn Vilnius on Friday the summerhouse was squatted and it opened it’s doors with photography exhibition, free tea and sweets, discussion and spontaneous stencil making/spraying. No police and good atmosphere. On Saturday was created a temporary autonomous zone in open air space near ex-cinema “lietuva” with zines infoshop, alternative publishing “kitos knygos” books reading library, food not bombs, performances, concert. Also some speeches were made. On sunday movies screenings were made in XI20 diy space.
Middle EastIn Jerusalem, a banner was hung over a massive bridge being constructed in the entrance to the city, saying “free space for free people!”. Later that day, a street party took place inside a pedestrian tunnel in a park. party was joined by radical activists from Tel Aviv.
RussiaA movie program and a discussion with participants giving one another the benefit of their squatting experience such as previously existing squats in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. The current state of things as well as the possibility to organize a legitimate social center in Moscow were also talked over.
New ZealandA party outside (and inside) 128 Abel Smith Street had good turn out. we had some belly dancers too. heaps of kids around and the fire brigade showed up at around 9pm and got rid of one of our fires (didnt see the other one) which was all good. we like the fire brigade. all the kids got to have a go with the hoses. the social center is covered in banners speeches are being made talking about autonomous space - our radical social center ‘128′ - and talking about the Tuhoe Nation, an indigenous nation who never gave up soverignty and who last year, on 15th October, was invaded by the colonial forces of the state. 128 was raided too that day.