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With the new squatting laws now in force, the first shot across the bows from Brighton Plod came this week when they waded into a London Road squat that had previously been empty for a year.
Although the mixed-use commercial/residential building has been squatted for a month, the cops arrived on Monday having been called in by private security firm Veritas. The goons had failed on two previous attempts to illegally evict the occupants so – since the offence of squatting in a residential building came into force on 1st September – they turned to the 'professionals' to do the job for them.
The first cops arrived around midday and the squatters explained that, since last week, no one was 'living' in the residential parts of the building and therefore no one was committing an offence. Unfortunately the police didn't buy this explanation and eventually called in backup to smash down the door. While a jeering crowd of about 40 squatters, supporters and bemused passers-by watched, the police spent nearly ten minutes attacking the front door with a battering ram.
When they eventually made it in they still had to get past a barricaded staircase to reach the first floor, where they discovered three squatters had squirrelled themselves away in the loft – gluing their hands together in the process. A telescopic ladder, a specialist lock-on team and a couple of hours later, and the three resisters were carried out to one of the eight waiting cop vans. Meanwhile two other masked persons unknown had taken up residence on the roof of the building and – having been threatened with arrest if they came down – sensibly remained there throughout the eviction.
The security company have now re-secured both the first floor flat and basement, but the squatters, so far, remain in possession of the shop. As far as SchNEWS is aware, these are the first ever arrests under the new law though they are unlikely to be the last. If you're currently squatting a residential or mixed-use building we recommend boning up on the law and building some barricades.
Brighton squatters had already announced their intentions to take action against the ban starting at Victoria Gardens at 2pm on Saturday 13th October. For more info check network23.org/snob.
For general squatting advice checkout the Advisory Service for Squatters.
All three of the arrestees were charged with abstraction (leccy theft), obstruct police and residential squatting. They were held for court on Tuesday with the CPS strongly opposing bail as they were of no fixed abode and liable to re-offend. However the judge ruled that he wouldn't punish the defendents for their lifestyle and released them all on unconditional bail. They're due back in court for a plea hearing on 30th October, you can rely SchNEWS to keep you abreast of any developments.
Squatted community social centre and veg shop opens in Lewes.
UPDATE: They finally coughed up. After two days of consistent hassling by activists at the Department for Transport earlier last month, during which one person got nicked, the DfT sheepishly released the previously top secret (read: problematic and embarrassing) documents about the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road.
New Squat Law Fails In Court
Anti-cull travellers and squatters plot land seizures.
New squatting law forces homeless to sleep in the cold with lethal consequences.
Since October, Europe's longest, largest 'Postcapitalist land occupation', la ZAD (Zone A Defendre) has been under attack from French authorities who want to clear it and build an airport. Here's another update from 'le frontline'...
German anti-fascists take Berlin on 20th anniversary of comrade Silvio Meier's murder.
UPDATE: The sh*t's well and truly hit the fan since we published this interview last week... Stay tuned for more SchNEWS from the front...