UK Free Spaces Feature Archive
On Friday July 18 UK Coal were granted a possession order for the Squatted farmhouse on the planned Lodge House open cast coal mine site near Smalley in Derbyshire. It is anticipated that an eviction is imminent, particularly as the climbing team used against road protesters has been seen around the site.
On Tuesday June 18, climate campaigners from ‘Leave it in the Ground’ occupied the UK Coal’s Lodge House site in Derbyshire by barricading themselves in a disused farm building and taken to the trees on the site of the open cast mine. Under the cover of darkness activists secured themselves in the Prospect Farm building, on the site which is about to be devastated by huge machines. and claimed squatter’s rights.
Newswire: Police try and enter Bodge House | Pictures from the Bodge House opencast - 13/07/08 | Bodge House - Eviction Alert! | Eviction gets go ahead - Bodge House | Call out for help at Shipley Bodge Site | Ongoing Open Cast Coal Mine Occupation, Derbyshire - update from court | Activists disrupt work at site of opencast coal mine | Leave it in the Ground… in Court and a protest | Shipley Bodge squatted coal site recieves papers
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]
Most of know what happened since, but let’s start in the beginning. On Tuesday night 20 May 2008, the building that formerly housed Wilco's automotive parts, and that had been standing empty for over a year, was squatted. This is the selfsame building where Tesco plans to open a controversial Express store. More about that later.
The aim of the squat was to turn the building into a much needed social centre, a focal point for the local Romsey (and Cambridge) community. It should be pointed out that the social centre is not connected to the No Mill Road Tesco campaign.
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.
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)
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
23-03-2008 22:12Since the new year, three new social centres opened in London. The first of those, known as RAMpart2 has already been left empty after the owners were granted an IPO. The new Hackney Social Centre has also lost its court case already and has an eviction date set for the 15th April 2008. There is also a new womens run social centre opened shortly before the international womens days, which also has its eviction date set for April.
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)
According to an undisclosed source, squatters at the ASBO centre have been given notice to quit the premises by 27th Feb.
Social activists, who initially squatted the building to provide a community space, have long since left. The remaining occupants have been implicated in a string of violent attacks against the Sankofa Foundation, a project supporting asylum seekers in the lower part of the building. An attempt to reopen another part of the building was also violently repelled.
The disastrous end of the squat has prompted some to question why the wider community who benefited from the ASBO haven't helped to sustain the project.
Background: Chief Executive of Nottingham City Council drops by at the ASBO | ASBO welcomed by community! | Nottingham Squatting Project, The Tidy-Up :: The pictures | Council serve eviction notice | New Squatting Project in Nottingham | Notts Indymedia Free Spaces Topic Page
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.
The beginning of 2008 saw more resistance to the ongoing gentrification of Oxford. On the 4th January a sycamore, reportedly 100 years old, was occupied by a sole protester (with plenty of support from below) to prevent it being felled for the 'redevelopment' of Bonn Square. They have since been served with a court summons and could do with support on Monday 14th January from 10am at Oxford County Court.
Meanwhile, the Westgate Partnership have been merrily chainsawing trees to make way for the Westgate expansion (which is technically different from the Bonn Square project, but linked to the West End 'regeneration'). This is despite the fact that a public inquiry is still going on over the demolition of Abbey Place sheltered housing - a clear indication of what the developers think of the legal process.
On Wednesday 9th January there was an impromptu day of action at the back of the Westgate centre where some trees had already been cut down. This protest led to the arrest of Councillor Glass Woodin and also saw one of the London Plane trees being occupied for over 24 hours. The bad weather on the 10th saw off - no pun intended - any more tree carnage.
There was a protest about the Westgate expansion on Saturday 12th January which saw at least 100 people reclaiming Bonn Square.
Meanwhile, Oxford County Council are meeting soon to decide whether to grant Radley Lakes Town Green status. If successful, this would prevent NPower using the lakes as a dumping ground for their waste ash. Save Radley Lakes need supporters on Monday 14th from 1:30pm at County Hall, Castle St.
[ Early reports: 1 | 2 | 3 | Video ] [ Later actions: 1 (with video) | 2 | 3 ] [ Bonn Sq: demo | mass action ] [ starvation policy: 1 | 2 ] [ Bonn Sq chainsawed: 1 | 2 | photos ] [ Westgate trees spiked ]
29-12-2007 17:25The rampART social centre in London is finally facing eviction after almost 4 years of providing a non-commercial venue for a wide range of activities. On the 12th of December, the social centre and the squatted houses in the street were all served with notice of court proceedings. On the 20th, the case was heard and a possession order granted from the 3rd of January 2008. However, the occupation has continued and the social centre is open as normal. An appeal has been lodged and evcition held off until a decision about the appeal has been made.
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.
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 |
Six months ago, the 25-year old Ungdomshuset (Youth House) occupied social center in Copenhagen, Denmark was evicted by police so that it could be handed over to the new owners, a Christian fundamentalist religious sect. This led to three days and nights of rioting in the city, with observers calling it the most serious internal security disturbance in Denmark since the end of the Second World War. 750 demonstrators were arrested.
This past weekend saw dramatic street actions in Copenhagen, as activists attempted to squat a replacement social centre named "G13." On Saturday 6th, between 3,000 - 10,000 people took part in a co-ordinated day of non-violent confrontation, which was met with heavy police repression. A total of 436 arrests resulted according to Danish mainstream media - a new record for a single police operation. Later in the evening, the G13 press group issued a statement declaring an end to the day's action. Demonstrators made it through police lines into the G13 site, but were cleared from the building by police after several hours of occupation. Despite this, many in the Danish scene believe the day was a success. As one participant said:
Last summer we couldn't do anything as a movement. Whatever we did we couldn't do it together and the police and the media hated us. Then last fall we learned to throw rocks. The movement rediscovered militant tactics. Then for half a year since the eviction that tactic has played out its usefulness. So now, we've developed a new tactic [non-violent confrontation]. As a movement we are now able to do anything.
English background on http://english.indymedia.dk
"From 3:00 til about 8:30 everything was going well. Plenty of people had turned up, we had raised quite a bit of money and people were generally having a good time... At around nine, the police turned up. At first, we were only met with a couple of bobbies on the beat. They told us to turn the music down and that they didn't want to have to come back to tell us again. We complied with this order. A short while later they returned, this time they cited breach of the peace and noise complaints from local residents. At this point we were given no legal warning and shown no noise abatement order... At this point TSG arrived. The officer arriving on the scene demanded two spokespeople from the organisers to negotiate a de-escualtion of the situation. Two spokespeople were mandated and let outside of the property. The negotiation was a complete farce. The officer had no interest in an open dialogue, he ordered that the soundsystem be removed from the premises within ten minutes and when the spokespeople refused to give out their personal details repeatedly threatened them with arrest." See the full report for more details and photos.
At 7pm on Saturday 15th September, the door was unlocked at Next To Nowhere in Bold Street, and Liverpool's new social centre was 'officially' opened, although there weren't any mayors or anything like that. However, there was a whole week of great events, starting with a party and ending with a film night.