URGENT CALL OUT FOR HELP! POLICE HAVE SURROUNDED THE NEW LOCATION! THE NEW LOCATION IS THE OLD CHURCH IN PRESTON STREET (OFF DALE STREET BY MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS LIVERPOO[L] CITY CENTRE). WE URGENTLY NEED AS MANY PEOPLE TO GET DOWN THERE ASAP! PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN
- Occupy Liverpool https://www.facebook.com/OccupyLiverpool/posts/249099251830522
Police and occupiers outside the back door of the squat
When I arrived there was a small group of people at the front of the building, and another slightly larger group at the back of the building. There were maybe thirty people in total. There were obviously people in the building but it is unclear how many. Police officers were stationed at all the entrances preventing people from entering or leaving the squat. There were about twenty officers milling around the area.
I asked a friendly looking guy (who I will refer to as E) in the assembled crowd what was going on. E said that three people, his friends, had been arrested “on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance” when they left the squat to try to talk to the police earlier. Occupy Liverpool’s official statement says that officers surrounded the building after the arrests which prompted the call for help. The three who were arrested were released without charge at 21:30.
In the UK it is legal for someone to squat in an unoccupied building as long as they enter it without causing damage, pay for any gas or electricity they use and don’t cause damage as a result of squatting. As long as the squatter is in the building it is illegal for someone else to use force, intimidation or harassment to enter the building and evict the squatters. A notice (known as a section 6 notice) was posted to that effect on the entrance of the building.
The attitude of the police towards the occupiers was disgraceful. People inside the building repeatedly asked to talk to the officer in charge but the police outside ignored them and pretended they couldn’t hear. One officer stood three feet away from someone at an open window said “I can’t hear you or see you property. Come to the door so we can talk” despite it being absolutely clear that anyone who left the building would be arrested. I standing on the other side of the street and could hear every word he was saying.
On several occasions the occupiers requested water and were told by the police “you can come out and get water”. People outside were told that they would be arrested if they passed anything, including water, to anyone inside. The first reason given by officers was that “hallucinogenics” could be passed in but this changed to “the building is a crime scene” when someone arrived with freshly purchased bottles of water with intact seals and a receipt. The officers could not say why the building was considered a crime scene or under what law they could arrest us for giving someone a bottle of water.
A loudhailer announced that legal advice had been sought which confirmed it was a breach of their rights for the police to deny water. Someone inside lowered string from one of the upper windows to hoist supplies up but an officer grabbed the string and pulled it down leading to chants of “Shame!” from the crowd. There was a moment of chaos as everyone surged forward and people began trying to throw bottles of water and food to the upper windows.
At this point the police began to retreat, I assumed, to re-group and make arrests but it later transpired, coincidentally, that they were ordered to leave.
I was standing by one of the police vans as they were leaving; an officer looked back at the building as he got in his van and said “knobheads”. I think this neatly sums up the attitude of the majority of officers there tonight. They acted like bullies and showed complete disregard for the people they are sworn to protect. If the police were there to execute a search warrant then why did they surround the building and harass its legal occupants before the warrant was granted? If they were looking for drugs when they were they preventing things from being passed in to the building?
Just after the police left E came over and said “That’s what happens when you go up against people who know the law”. True, but why should we have to go up against the police to get them to enforce the law as it is written and not as they see fit?
Update 23:26 08/01/12: I_Am_Jay_O_Doom has posted his account of todays events. http://jayodoom.blogspot.com/2012/01/report-from-attempted-eviction-of.html
Update 22:01 08/01/12: Occupy Liverpool have released a statement on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/OccupyLiverpool/posts/249279861812461
Update 21:30 08/01/12: The three occupiers who were arrested have been released without charge. https://twitter.com/#!/OccupyLiverpool/status/156125566574149633
The security guards shown are the ones who carried out the violent attacks on Saturday, the attack occurred outside Boots on Church Street. These are the same security guards who punched and kicked protesters in Topshop earlier this year.
There has been some discussion on Facebook about security guards 'protecting private property' as if that justifies their behaviour, I am in all honesty horrified by not only people's lack of sympathy but also lack of knowledge of their own rights.
A shop is privately owned, however it is open to the public and therefore protesters are well within their rights to enter. People also have the right to peaceful protest and these protesters did nothing wrong!
The security guards used excessive force to remove protesters and they also continued to attack protesters outside on public property. What excuse could they possibly have for these actions?
Some of the more disgusting acts of violence that day were a security guard putting a cigarette out on somebody's face and punching a pregnant woman. The guy in the blue shirt claiming to have 'just got here' punched a 15- year -old girl.
I am urging people to get this video out there however they can. Email links to Boots, Topshop and Burtons, as that is where these security are from.
Anyone else with any footage please upload it to youtube and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure the individuals who were attacked can get a copy of it.
As I mentioned earlier this is not the first time we have been attacked by these thugs. Many of those attacked are looking to proceed with private prosecutions, so we need as much evidence as we can get. I'm sick of security guards getting away with blatant abuses of power.
Also important to note how by privatising all property and giving these bullies a free reign on how they 'police' it we are effectively under a police state. If we let these individuals carry out their own private justice time and time again it will become the norm.
Sunday 8th Jan 2012 saw a big raid on the Occupy Liverpool building by Merseyside Police.
The call went out by text and Facebook ‘URGENT CALL OUT FOR HELP! POLICE HAVE SURROUNDED THE NEW LOCATION! THE NEW LOCATION IS THE OLD CHURCH IN PRESTON STREET (OFF DALE STREET BY MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS LIVERPOOL CITY CENTRE). WE URGENTLY NEED AS MANY PEOPLE TO GET DOWN THERE ASAP! PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN’
I was already on my way back to the building anyway, as I arrived I subtly walked around the building keeping my distance as no one else had arrived yet and I didn’t want to put myself in a vulnerable position with large numbers of police. There were two police vans on each side of the building and several police cars as well as on foot officers standing around entrances.
People came down from the camp and we walked to the back door where the police seemed to be making an effort to gain entry. Immediately the video cameras were out as I questioned the police through the megaphone about what they were intending to do. I also pointed out the section 6 notice on the door and began to read out about how it was illegal to evict without a High Court or County Court eviction order.
We overheard the police on the radio telling another officer that the building was secure and they had no way of getting in and would need the occupiers to come out. This was relayed to the occupiers via megaphone.
Unfortunately three occupiers fell for the police tactics and were arrested for ‘suspected possession of a controlled substance’. One occupier was arrested by a plain clothes police officer who was quickly surrounded by protesters outside. He was filmed whilst being questioned about his badge number, he flashed an empty wallet to the crowd which contained no badge and refused to give his number, he then ignored the crowd as he violently arrested the young man.
I used the megaphone to inform the occupiers about what had happened and about what the police where arresting people on. This time I openly stated: "The police do not want to talk to you, they want to arrest you, you will never benefit from a conversation with the police, they cannot get in the building, the only way you will get arrested is if you come outside". Thankfully none of the occupiers left after this warning.
Throughout the evening there where several violent attacks by police on protesters who asked them constant questions. The police were being filmed acting illegally and did not like it. Many police covered their numbers on their shoulders and objected to being filmed. Two officers were filmed leaving the building next door where they had broken the door to gain entry due to a ‘decoy’ section 6 on the door. On camera these police refused to give their numbers or details and threatened to confiscate evidence. When they realised they had been caught these police where very aggressive and were quickly sent on ‘another job near Chinatown.’
(Ironically the occupiers had wanted to move to the building next door and the police had busted the door, so that evening the group seized the opportunity and moved in to the premises with a wide open front door, so I must say a HUGE thank you to Merseyside police, we couldn’t have done it without you!)
Police attempted to stop food and water being given to the occupiers, a violation of their human rights. A police officer pulled a rope which had been dropped out of the window out of an occupier’s hands and snatched a bag of food from a protester and ripped it up and threw it all over the road, threatening arrest for anyone who tried to get anything into the building but unable to say what people would be arrested for, ‘the building is a crime scene,’ or ‘it's health and safety.’ For an unknown reason the police regrouped by the van and the crowd seized the opportunity to throw food to the occupiers who cheered. The police had then been beat and got into their vans and drove away. I believe that the raid was a direct retaliation to the action on Saturday, we had made a mockery out of the police in the middle of town. Hundreds of passers-by cheered as the police stood powerless, with so many witnesses how could they retaliate illegally, they simply had to stand and listen to the truth as the crowd watched and realised how little power the police had, and openly showed that the public also dislike the police. The police at first pretended to follow the march sheepishly at the back but then gave up and we were left to our own devices.
The harassment by police (there was another illegal raid the following morning when the police left suspiciously as BBC TV cameras turned up) shows how direct action in Liverpool has started to portray a powerful message and the powers that be are beginning to feel as though they are losing control. Raids like these are attempts to assert power and control and they were once again defeated by people power.
I would like to personally take this opportunity to thank the people who turned up to support Occupy Liverpool on that evening. Without the amazing turn out the police would have almost definitely raided the building and arrested everybody (to be later released without charge but to come back to a boarded up building). The three arrested were released without charge and are considering legal action against the police.
Liverpool Echo once again spun the story and lied about occupiers being cautioned. No drugs were found, the raid was a fruitless waste of tax payers' money and another abuse of police power. Police acted outside of the law and the Echo are trying to cover that up. The contact details for the Echo can be found here if you wanted to show support and pull the Echo up about their spinning of the facts in order to cover up the illegal activities of the police.