News Shorts & Other Busyness
Troubles All Round For Brixton Squatters
Squall 5, Oct/Nov 1993, pg. 24.
Squatters in Brixton are being given an extra hard time recently, according to several members of that community.
Firstly, the 121 Centre on Railton Road narrowly avoided a fire bomb attack in April, when a man with petrol and a screwed up paper torch was chased off. The posse that run the alternative bookshop and civil rights centre, suspect that it may have been the work of Combat 18, a violent subgroup of the British National Party (BNP). The Freedom Bookshop in Whitechapel and another bookshop in Birmingham (neither are squats) have both been subjected to attacks of this kind over the summer.
The BNP are not the only people to have a grudge against the squatters in Brixton however. In May a small going away party at No. 1 Arlington Road received a visit from two policemen at 2am. Of course it is the nature of squatting rights that anyone who enters the property has equal right to occupancy as those already present. Consequently, squatters are advised not to let either council officials or police into the property, unless a warrant is shown, so the police were refused entry. More police then arrived and began pulling those at the door onto the street, at which point the squatters shut the front door.
When riot police showed up and broke into the property there were, according to eyewitnesses, only a few people left. Truncheons were wielded, however, and two of the squatters were later admitted to hospital as a result.
Despite this, eleven party attenders were remanded in the police station for two days pending charges of violent disorder. Eight were granted bail conditions which included £1000 surety. Benefit gigs were organised to raise the money and up until the time of going to press only four remain inside.
According to many squatters in Brixton, a number of illegal evictions involving the police (breaking down doors or standing by whilst ‘heavies’ do likewise) have taken place this year. It is thought that the active hunt saboteur movement in the area, and the organised way in which bail money was gathered for the arrested squatters, has brought vengeful policing tactics against all squatters in the area. There are also a number of Europeans squatting in the area and this has often been a signal for official grief. Both the police and council alike, assume that these ’foreigners' may not be so familiar of their rights under British law. It is well-known within the squatting world that the police, having heard a foreign accent on the other side of the door, often try and fool the squatters into leaving with misquotes of the law.