2008 Days Of Action For Autonomous Spaces
A week-end of initiatives and actions in defense of squats and autonomous spaces throughout the world. See: april2008.squat.net for more info.
Following an international meeting at 'Les Tanneries' in Dijon last year, there was a call out for decentralised actions in defence of free spaces on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th April. The aim is to develop interconnections and solidarity between autonomous spaces and help create more visibility for them as a political movement.
In 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. Last month, after a long struggle, there was similar good news for the campaign to save the Kopi in Berlin.
In the UK, new squats have opened in Bristol, Leeds, Brimingham, Nottingham [ 1 | 2 | 3 ], and London [ 1 | 2 ]. In Reading, the Common Ground Squatted Community Garden was reopened, in Manchester multiple spaces were invaded; the new space in Nottingham hosted workshops, films, discussion, zines, and free jumble stalls; London distributed events at different spaces, with a squatters estate agency and a program of workshops, films, discussion and art plus a benefit gig for the Advisory Service For Squatters. A squat themed spoof news paper was also been distributed in participating cities. Actions also took place against dodgy landlords exploiting asylum seekers.
All IMC coverage [RSS] : Birmingham (Freespace Brum - Temporary Autonomous Zone) | Leeds (Angel Group targetted) (A success in every way! Audacious Space Leeds) | London (Hackney hostel residents march) (Shoreditch New Squat Pics) (News from Londons autonomous spaces...) (Days Of Action Follow Up for London's Autonomous Spaces) (Putting people into London's empties) | Manchester (video) (A tale of 4 squats in Manchester) (Demonstration of squatters turns into mass occupation) (Pics of demo and mass action) (Space Invaded, and Evicted?) | Nottingham | Reading (Squatted Community Garden Reopened) | Brighton (video)
Mill Road, a new squatted social centre in Cambridge, lost against Tescos in court last week but are confident about holding onto the place a while longer yet. They have however been experiencing violent attacks from anonymous cowards. There have been many reports of attacks on autonomous spaces recently. In Greece there have been heavy police repression and fascist arson attacks against autonomous space [more]. In Amsterdam, the Citex squat was attacked and illegally evicted by Police. Just a few days ago in Rome, fascists were caught planting a bomb in the front yard of Loa Acrobax. The tide turned briefly when hundreds of people from Berlin and elsewhere went on the offensive and instigated six days of diverse and often militant action in Berlin. In a city which has one of the harshest anti-squatting policies in Europe people showed they were undaunted and defiant [more].
London has seen the eviction of two squatted social centres recently (1, 2) but last week there was a report of a new space opening in Nunhead. Also in south London, the Spike is raising its profile as a community resource as part of a strategy to hang onto the site. At the heart of London's city fringe expansion, Bowl Court social centre lost a courtroom battle against property giant Hammerson and is now considering next moves [background]. Meanwhile, the long running rampART social centre in East London marked it's 4th anniversary but is considering voluntary closure as it has been suffering from neglect, theft and lack of energy since the owners were granted a possession order way back in January.
Gutter press followed the Tory party in inciting hatred towards squatters while squatters in Brighton enjoyed somewhat better press coverage relating to the occupation of a church on London Road in Brighton. In an attempt to promote autonomous spaces, a booklet called 'What's this Place' [PDF] has been produced by the UK Social Centres Network which will probably be having it's next gathering at the newly refurbished Kebele in Bristol, 14th Sept. Also being planned for late summer is a follow up to last months international 'interspace' gathering near Berlin which followed the April2008 mobilisations [more].
Up to 200 squatters and supporters followed a call for an unauthorised demonstration in the city centre from Manchester's No Borders group. Accompanied by a samba band (Rhythms of Resistance) and two soundsystems mounted on bike trailers. "With the cops not bothering to show up, we marched undisturbed from Victoria Station into the Northern Quarter, along Market Street and Kings Street , through Spinningfields into Castlefields."
The lead banner read FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT FOR ALL - DEFEND AUTONOMOUS SPACES. Hundreds of copies of the Mesho were given out to passers by. The Mesho was a squat themed spoof news paper was also distributed in other participating cities.
The aim of the widespread action was is to develop interconnections and solidarity between autonomous spaces and help create more visibility for them as a political movement. In the UK the scale of the actions were extensive. Fuller coverage is here.
Also on the subject of immigration and fighting gentrification Check this upcoming event.
Movement for Justice in El Barrio is a grass roots organisation of immigrant communities fighting against gentrification in El Barrio (East Harlem) 7.30 pm Thursday 8th May 2008 at the Town Hall Tavern, Manchester - more info
Since a few days, a group of people have occupied the Old County Hall on High Pavement as part of the international days of action for free culture and autonomous spaces. Also see feature article. The building, also known as 'the Judges' Lodgings' has both a fascinating history and is a building of outstanding beauty. So what is its history? Who's been living there over the years? And why has been sitting empty for so many years?
"For many years it was used as the Judge's Lodgings, and behind it is a really charming garden which forms an oasis of greenery which it is very difficult to see from anywhere else than the windows of the schoolrooms of Halifax Place Chapel. It is a 17th century house which was greatly altered about 1833, about which time it was purchased from the Fellows family, who had removed thither from a smaller house a little to the west. Before their time it was occupied by Lady Hutchinson, the mother of Colonel Hutchinson." That's an extract from an article on Notts History, an online collection of copyleft articles on Nottinghamshire's vibrant history. Reading through articles about the history of the Judge's Lodgings, one thing is certain. And that is that some very high ranked individuals have lived here over the centuries.
The weekend kicked off on Friday evening with a social meetup and info night with fils and cafe at the rampART social centre and acoustic bands and performances at the NOID gallery.
On saturday, the newly opened social centre opened it's doors with an art-exhibition, films, workshops and discussions. It also hosted a free shop and very popular squatters estate agency. Also during the day there was a demo at a homeless hostel in London.
Saturday evening saw several hundred people partying at the Hackney Social Centre at a benefit gig for the Advisory Service for Squatters with Headjam, Skints, Ras Simeon Judah, 52 Commerical Rd and Pinstickers. Another benefit took place at the Wominspace.
Also see international days of action summary.
Location announced: Old County Hall, 23 High Pavement, NG1, See article for more details.
Activists across Europe and beyond have dubbed April 11th and 12th as days of action for squats and autonomous spaces. This weekend, in Nottingham, a group of people have vowed to open up a new squatted space and put on various events. In an article published on Notts Indymedia they say: "By visibly taking a space in the city centre, we intend to raise awareness of squatting and so contribute to a future of squatting in Nottingham with more long-term squats elsewhere in the city."
One goal for the weekend of action is to "inspire and empower people" who have previously been unfamiliar with squatting. Discussing campaigns and sharing knowledge and skills we can support one another and be empowered ourselves, as well as drawing in new people by creating a vibrant and exciting place to be.
On the newswire: Events schedule - Squatting days of action | Leaflets for Nottingham squat days of action this weekend | Bookbinding & Juggling Workshops - 12th April | Action for squats and autonomous spaces in Nottingham | Notts Indymedia Free Spaces Topic Page
Previous squatting related features: End of the Road for ASBO | J B Spray Building Occupied / Evicted / Reoccupied | YES, we're open ! | Abandoned for over 7 years... | New Squatting Project in Nottingham