Self-Organised London Social Space has now been opened in a squatted office building near Elephant and Castle.
Eileen House on 80-94 Newington Causeway, a 1960s office building, has now been empty for years. Its redevelopment has been subject to a protracted and contested debate between Southwark Council, Oakmayne developers, local residents, the famous nightclub “Ministry of Sound” (located opposite Eileen House) and – the mayor of London (see PDF). After numerous months of haggling and bureaucratic warfare, it’s time to reclaim Eileen house for the public and the interests of the Elephant’s residents!
On Tuesday night, 19th February, a number of social centre collectives squatted Eileen House as a direct action against gentrification. As a selforganised London Social Space, we want to propose & exchange ideas for radical alternatives, serving the needs of the many vibrant and organic communities around E&C!
For this reason we will put on a number of events, talks, discussions, film screenings, music nights and much more for the first week (see below). All residents and Londoners are more than welcome to pop in for a cuppa, discuss matters, attend our events or just have a good chat! During this first week we are really happy for people to come mby, have a look around the building and maybe give us a hand with setting up the space, while on the long run, the opening times will be from Wednesdays till Sundays, 2-10 pm.
From the newswire:
Fight gentrification! Reclaim regeneration! For self-organised spaces... | Siege of The Elephant | first protest on london shard viewing platform | News from the Library Street Social Centre | Southwark Council leaks it's own Confidential Regeneration Agreement
The Hovefields Gypsy/Traveller site in Essex has been evicted this week. At the time of writing, a group of these families are still on the road without anywhere to stop, having been also evicted from two other sites they tried to move on to, all within 24 hours. In fact it is illegal for them to stop anywhere as a group, as they are more than six live-in vehicles.Read more >>
The Crown Court cleared three activists of the charges of "obstructing the police" on Friday.
The Inner London Crown Court ruled that police surveillance of a public political meeting had not been proved to be lawful and that the police had failed to provide any evidence that they were pursuing a "legitimate aim". The three activists were arrested at a meeting called by London NoBorders in June 2008 when they protested against the surveillance of the meeting by "Forward Intelligence Team" - Report.Read more >>
80 days ago the democracy village set up on parliament square. Now it has gone. After losing the court hearing on 16th July (press release), and sending a call out to stand up for democracy, the eviction started just after 1am on Monday night. The public square was fenced in and democracy out (pics | video), and the two people in D-locks couldn't stop this. No one was arrested, but calls were made for a day of non-violent direct action today and a people's assembly this Saturday 1pm.
See the democracy village newswire at
The appeal by Democracy Village after last week's High Court ruling will be heard at 10.30am this Friday (9th July) at the appeals court. In the meantime the camp is still going on strong, having started 'Operation Rolling Thunder', more – an ongoing programme of non-violent direct action. The village is calling out for people to come down and help on multiple fronts: to come and do actions, to help with the site, keep it tidy and maintain the gardens. There is a particular call-out for those with direct action skills and experience.Read more >>
Very near Myatts Fields and not far from Laughborough Junction station, the Library House stands right behind Minet Library (and it looks like it used to be part of the library services but left empty?).
It is run by a group of local south londoners that are currently fixing it up and already dreaming and preparing events. It aims to be an open house for the local community, and right now lots of work is going on, specially to sort out the electricity.Read more >>
The Wembley 'Tent City' Occupation located on Wembley Park Sports Ground, was opposed to the plans for a privatised Wembley Park Academy school to be built on one of the few remaining green areas accessible to the local community for sports training. The campaign is in keeping with the wave of resistance [more] to new school academies up and down the country. The Wembley Ark Academy is an American and British educational charity sponsored and run by a group of millionaire merchant bankers and currency speculators, led by french/swiss and multimillionaire Arpad Busson. The Ark Academy is estimated to cost around £30 million of public money yet it would be privately run.
The re-establishment of the 'Tent City' started on the 30th of June, following last year's permanent occupation of the site that lasted six months, and which saw tree houses being built. The site was then only vacated when the protestors won a year’s extension on the lease. Wembley teachers and their local supporters argue that after more than two years of campaigning to keep the community sports grounds out of the private sector, they are now not going to give in without a fight, as the building of the planned Wembley Academy is part of Brent council's drive to privatise schools, turning education into a profit making business instead of a basic human right beyond the 'logic' of the market.
On Tuesday 15th July Brent Council representatives sought a court order for the immediate eviction of the site, but by the afternoon around 50 local people had turned up to show support, and the eviction didn't take place. On Wednesday 16th, teachers and local people continued the occupation despite renewed threats of forced eviction and possible arrests. They took permanent positions on the roofs of the building next to the sports grounds, with at least one protestor locking on to the main mast. By then it was generally expected that the final eviction attempt would happen soon and 'by surprise, probably in the early morning, and so they renewed their call for urgent solidarity and for people to go up there and show their support. On the early morning of Friday 18th, the teachers and their supporters' expectations came true when specialised bailiffs turned up at 6.30am and finally removed the last protestor resisting on the roof, who had the support of the crowd that had gathered at the site's gate [Report and Video]Read more >>
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.Read more >>
The weekly vegan open picnic has recently faced growing repression from Police and consistent support in the community.
People taking part in Brixton's Reclaim Your Food weekly action faced arrest last Sunday 2nd March 2008 as they challenged the legitimacy of a Dispersal Order issued by the Lambeth branch of the Metropolitan Police.
Police (consisting of a mix of PCs, CSOs and higher-ranking officers) were waiting for the collective before they even arrived. They came equipped with a mobile surveillance van, 2 regular Police vans and 2 Police cars.
The first arrest came as a result of a refusal to comply with the Dispersal Order placed upon the group, the second for attempting to establish the legal basis for such an arrest. The Dispersal Order, made possible by the controversial Anti-Social Behaviour Act, was issued in response to an alleged Section 5 Public Order offence - defined as causing harassment, distress or alarm. However, when questioned, the Police failed to provide adequate evidence to suggest that such an offence was taking place.
Thankfully, the long arm of the law did not stretch to the Bicycle Repair Workshop or those making Puncture Repair Kits and Wallets from recycled and sustainable materials. These were welcome additions to the Town Square, which was reclaimed as a fully-functional public space for all...with room for a bit of a dance to the chilled reggae/dub soundsystem!
Despite all the Police intimidation and generally not fantastic weather, a good time was had by most people who turned up or happened to be passing by! - Same as today 9th of March when there were no arrests.
The collectives involved in Sunday's action are keen to welcome anyone who is interested in any aspect of the project to come along - Bring food to share. Instruments. Sound Systems. Practical Social Activities. Or just yourself!! All welcome.
The project will continure to meet at Brixton Town Square (by Coldharbour Lane, opposite the Ritzy Cinema) from around 2/3pm every Sunday. The town square is well on it's way to being a free public space, for anyone to use. This does not figure in the plans of the Police and Local Government, who are intent on seeing through gentrification of the area. Every Sunday at approx 3pm in BRIXTON TOWN SQUARE, opposite BRIXTON LIBRARY
Video: 3 march (1)Read more >>
London's newest autonomous zone opened last night with a free cafe, music, and a series of short films. After three weeks of resisting illegal forcible evictions, the Hackney Social Centre opened last night for an evening of food, music, films - including one, Trainsquatting, about squatters and resistance to evictions in Slovenia.
The social centre grew out of meetings through the Northeast Squatters Network, which seeks to strengthen solidarity and skill-sharing locally between the squats in north-east London.
It is a non-commercial social space and plans to be home to activities such as free language lessons, a donations-only cafe, a free shop, meetings of local groups, skill-share sessions and a bike workshop.Read more >>
Meanwhile, there have been various meetings to organise opposition to the threat and open a new space. There was also an assembly on the 6th Jan to look at setting up a group to support London social centres and maintain continuity.Read more >>
Breaking News December 12th: rampART gets eviction papers. The rampART social centre in London today received court papers for repossesion on the grounds of Tresspass. The hearing date is the 20th Dec. A meeting of all the effected groups/individuals to discuss a response and plan what will happen over the next month or so, will take place on Monday December 17th at 7pm
The rampART social center in East London has been open for over three and a half years, hosting thousands of meetings, screenings, performances, exhibitions and benefit gigs. During that period the building and resources have steady evolved to adapt the demands of its users. Now gentrification approaches with property developers planning to partially demolish the squatted houses next to the social center and build three new properties at the back.
The rampART itself is under no immediate threat and regular activities continue as normal with Food Not Bombs, Rhythms Of Resistance, Radical Theory Group, Dissident Island Radio, WANC, and a new homeopathy clinic among the regular users. Coming up are a benefit for 'Papers For All' and an indymedia training session. Meanwhile the rampART collective is taking stock of its past and looking to the future with a special users meeting taking place on the Sat 17th Nov. All groups that have used the space or might like to use the space are invited to take part in discussions about how the social center is being run and the direct it should take in the coming year.
Links : The rampART and its evolution | Developers make their move on Rampart Street | Rampart Update in Indymedia Offline #21 (oct07) | Free food criminals | Reclaim Your Health | Load of WANC | Indymedia training session - be the media |Read more >>
At 7am two independent groups of campaigners from the Camp for Climate Action stopped carbon-intensive private jets fom operating at two airports in the south east. Executive flights at Biggin Hill and Farnborough airports have been brought to a standstill by climate activists concerned at the huge growth in the use of private jets by business people. At Biggin Hill Airport the activists D-locked themselves to the gates of the airports. 10 people were then arrested. The blockade lasted for just under 4 hours.
24 people took part in the blockade at Farnborough Airport with 9 people locked onto lock-on devices across the access road. After an hour the aiport staff opened up an emergancy crash exit to allow the gathered business people in. Meanwhile protesters handed out leaflets to staff, passengers and locals. Jets were delayed and after 2 hours a second emergency exit was opened. By this point the police warned people they would be arrested and it was decided to return to the camp. Although no one was arrested, the police did seize lock-on devices.
Also on the newswire: Pics of Biggin Hill blockade | Business flights blockaded by climate activists | Video Interview with Farnborough Airport Blockaders | Bristol Airport Stunt | Audio Interviews from Camp | Renewable energy at Camp - photos report and videos | Camp under Surveillance | Happy Days Thursday Pics and ReportRead more >>
"We fix, we build!! Occupied against speculation, against gentrification"
A group of local south londoners have opened up a building in Camberwell, and are fixing it up to run it as a social space. It aims to be a centre open to the local community, and right now lots of work is going on fixing and repairing the space so to open it with regular events, including a caffe every Friday and film nights every Wednesday.Read more >>
Early in the morning of March 6th, high court bailiffs and police moved in to evict the Vortex Occupied Social Centre. The old Jazz bar on Stoke Newington Church Street, North London, had been occupied since the beginning of the year and had been open for numerous and varied community events [ 1 | 2 | 3 ].Read more >>
The Vortex Jazz Bar in Stoke Newington's Chuch Street, famous for its vibrant music scene and a venue popular in the local community, was occupied by local activists on the 6th January. In its new incarnation as a social centre, the building has once again been filled with the voices of the community. Already happening are busy café nights, cinema and jazz nights, exhibition space, a parent/baby group and regular benefits.
The development plan for the old Vortex, by notorious landlord Richard Midda, is to make way for a Starbucks with luxury apartments above. This planned development highlights once more the continued erosion of the 'the Street' as community space soon to be identifiable only from one corporate logo to the next. A court proceeding against the occupation took place on the 24th Jan to take repossession of the building, with an unlawful eviction attempt by Midda and private baliffs on the 26th Jan. This was repelled [Photos and Video] by activists with the help of local people. The occupation of the Vortex continues, but the threat of eviction is still imminent.Read more >>
First suggested by Canadian artist Ted Dave in the early 90's, Buy Nothing Day has become an annual global event. Using Direct action and culture jamming, activists use this day to challenge consumerism and capitalist way of life.
This year, on 25 November, the Space Hijackers decided to resurrect one of their favourite projects: the half-price sale". Many actions and activities took place in Bath, Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford, Redditch and York.Read more >>
Today police forces evicted the occupied Dalston Theatre in Dalston Lane, Hackney. Police came around 4.30 in the morning, climbing the massive building from several sides with ladders.
By 9.00h everyone is evicted from the theatre, police is still around the whole building. Read full story and the chronology of the building and 'Rebel Thanks to Everyone' from the Everything4Everyone collective..Read more >>
The occupied theatre on Dalston Lane (Hackney, London) is currently facing eviction - the local council has got permission to demolish the buildings from next Wednesday. Dalston Theatre was occupied in February [pics 1 | 2] to protest against the gentrification of the area and has ever since been open as a community centre, hosting a variety of activities and workshops.
The first attempt to evict the building, in March, was successfully resisted. Now, the ocupiers are asking for support to resist the eviction once again. The week of resistance started with a "Day of Celebration" last Sunday, 15th Oct.Read more >>
At 1pm on Monday October 9th, up to one hundred and fifty angry and concerned people converged on the Palace of Westminster, to sack parliament. The plan was to surround parliament and cause parliamentary activities to cease. MPs, Lords and civil servants would be prevented from re-opening Parliament.
As soon as protesters started to arrive, police quickly moved in stop and search everyone that was considered 'suspicious'. Many people were turned away from reaching Parliament Square, others were singled out by police units and prevented from joining the protests. See 2pm update when protesters were surrounded by police. An NUJ photogapher was hospitalised by police [photo + witness appeal] after being violently thrown into a kerb. See also 3pm update and a report.
Eventually the people trapped in the police ring were let out and escorted from Parlianment Square after having been searched, photographed and identified [treatment of press report]. All were told that they would be reported for summons for the offence of taking part in an unlawful demonstration.
There are reports of up to 40 people having been arrested. The court hearings for those arrested and summoned will start on Tuesday 17th Oct at 10am in West London Court [details] Anyone who can get down there to show solidarity and support to those involved will be greatly appreciated. [screening of footage (tuesday 10th)]Read more >>
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The Square occupied social centre, based at 21 Russell Square, London [Map], was facing eviction fom Friday, June 23rd. A call out was made to resist the eviction and to hold a Festival of Resistance, involving autonomous groups, social centres activists, live bands, DJs and participants from The Square.
On Friday, 23rd June, around 60-70 people followed the call for solidarity and to resist the eviction from the early morning. The building was festooned with an array of flags and banners, and the mood was light but determined. Apart from a couple of oficers from Camden Council that eventually turned up, made some telephone calls and then left, no other form of 'authority' showed up or attempted eviction. [Mid morning update | Pics 1 | 2 | 3]
On Saturday, around 400 people attended the concert in support of The Square, which featured live music in two stages and a couple of sound systems in the basement [Report]. A talk and film screening about repression in Mexico also took place in the evening, organized by Z.A.P.
On Sunday, around 30 people including most of those who had had a sustained relationship with the space, came together to decide the term of the resistance that had begun on Friday. This gathering eventually came up with a dissolution communique of The Square Occupied Social Centre, which informs that "the space has now been passed on to a handful of residents who wished to remain and a few people who wanted to continue to run the place as a political and cultural venue", and it ends stating:
"Something has passed from central London into our hearts. The red and black will not fly over Russell Square much longer but we carry them in exile, and we will have another building in due course".
Indymedia always needs more volunteers and at the moment the IMC UK network in particular is seeking more tech help so that it can be more active in the development of the content management program used by many IMC sites. It is really important to increase the developer pool since many proposals made for improving the site are stalling at the tech bottleneck.
If you think you could help please get in touch with your local collective or email imc-uk-tech. You could also mention this to anyone else you think might be able to help.
If you'd like to develop your own tech skills, you might be interested in the various Hacklab projects around the country which host regular training and workshops. The rampART lab for example provides a useful venue for anyone wanting to become more involved in indymedia.
On Saturday 25th the London Hacklabs Collective is putting on a benefit event to help cover the cost of the broadband both at the rampART and Freedom Book Shop. You can find more details about the event from the rampART or the Hacklabs website. The event will be a workshop about IMC tech and various IMC projects.Read more >>
On Monday 20th of February, local activists from Hackney, London, occupied three Victorian and Georgian buildings in order to stop the threat of demolition. The intention is to turn them into a community and social centre, instead of seeing the buildings sold off to private developers. The site consists of the Victorian Dalston Theatre and a pair of Georgian townhouses. Although some officials argue they are in a derelict state, members of the community are convinced that the theatre has a big potential as a cultural, social and community resource [Photos and Report]
At about 8am, council officers turned up and told the occupiers that they had to vacate the building by 9 or they would send in the police to evict them. Later in the morning, workmen from Byline (the contractors hired by Hackney Council) and police forced entry to the occupied theatre. Activists then climbed to the buidling's rooftops to defend the occupation, and have been up there to the day. [Read thoughts from the people resisting the demolition]
On Wednesday March 1st the case went to the High Court in a drive by Hackney council to rush the eviction. The Court unexpectedly refused to decide on the case, and ruled that the Council's claim for possession "should be transferred to the County Court" [report] On Friday March 3rd Shoreditch County Court issued an Interim Possession Order, which gives 24 hours to the occupiers to vacate the buildings. On Saturday 4th, a Guerrilla Screening and Open meeting were organised in the street outside the Theatre.
An eviction can now happen at any time, and the occupiers call for everyone to go down there and support the resistance when it happens. Call 07919998567 for the latest info.
In São Paulo, Brazil, major José Serra has made it his mission to 'gentrify' the city centre and ultimately expel thousands of the low-earning families and street dwellers. He wants to evict 'Prestes Maia', a 22 storey tower block, probably the biggest single squat in the whole of South America which is home to 468 families, a library, workshops, and a venue for numerous autonomous educational, social and cultural activities. Now the 'apparent owner' wants it emptied. The 'owner' has accumulated a debt in municipal taxes of around 1.5 million pounds during the last 15 years of 'ownership' (more than he paid for the building). This, together with long years of abandonment, should justify a claim for the building to become public property, but despite this, a massive police operation paid for by public money was planned to make over 1,600 people homeless in the name of gentrification.
However, the residents of Prestes Maia have enjoyed a last minute reprieve and the eviction has been postponed for at least two months. Nether-the-less, on Thursday 16th, people in London held a solidarity demo outside the Brazillian Embassy [ Call out | report and photos | video ]. In the evening, a film about Prestes Maia was screened at the rampART social centre along with a UK premiere of documentary about police violence in the favelas of Rio.Read more >>
Update 9 jan:Possible eviction on 10 Jan, 6am
On 5th December, members of the community occupied the cafe in time to prevent demolition. Evicted on 21 December, the cafe was demolished, then reoccupied on boxing day. Papers have been served on the occupiers, who were due in court on Friday 9th December. They are receiving support from local people and welcome visitors. Another eviction is expected any time.
The leaseholder of Francesca's Cafe at no.34 was evicted from his premises in the summer, and the building was sold to Market House Ltd., a property development company owned by Dr. Roger Wratten, who has also acquired other properties in the Market which he intends to turn into flats. Dr. Wratten was able to snap up the properties at bargain prices, despite the fact that leaseholders of several properties, including Francesca's, had been trying to buy the freeholds for years.
The sell-off resulted after sustained financial irregularities by Hackney Council, and the Estate Agents appointed to handle the sale are believed to have sold of £225m worth of properties for a mere £70m, thus increasing the burden on council-tax payers in the Borough who will be forced to pick up the debts created through the council's ineptitude. The people of Hackney have already suffered closure of amenities, privatisation of services and demolition of schools. Property values in the Borough are expected to rocket as developers clamour for sites to accommodate the Olympics in 2012.Read more >>
Public sector cuts