Trespass Journal

Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden one year after eviction

One year ago yesterday, the two-month occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden, a community garden in Deptford, in south east London, came to a violent end when bailiffs hired by Lewisham Council evicted the occupiers in a dawn raid.

[For more infos see Thirty days into the occupation of the Old Tidemill Garden in Trespass issue 3]

It was a disturbing end to a long-running effort on the part of the local community to save the garden — and Reginald House, a block of structurally sound council flats next door — from destruction as part of a plan to re-develop the site of the old Tidemill primary school. The garden — a magical design of concentric circles — had been created by pupils, teachers and parents 20 years before, and the community had been given use of it after the school moved to a new site in 2012, while efforts to finalise the plans proceeded, with the housing association Family Mosaic (which later merged with Peabody) and the private developer Sherrygreen Homes.

The garden was not only a magical green space; it also helped to mitigate the worst effects of pollution on nearby Deptford Church Street, but the council weren’t interested in considering alternative plans that would have spared the garden and Reginald House, and terminated the lease on the garden on August 28 last year. However, instead of giving the keys back, the community occupied the garden instead, embarking on a two-month experiment in community resistance that resonated around the world.

A year ago yesterday, after the eviction, whose intended swift conclusion was delayed as one brave activist, high in a tree, survived efforts to bring her down that were patently dangerous and in contravention of health and safety protocols, there was a stand-off, and numerous skirmishes, between the bailiffs — 130 of them in total —- and many dozens of police officers brought in to “protect” them, and the local community and activists and campaigners who had been part of the occupation, or had been part of the longer struggle to save the garden from destruction, or who, in some cases, only got involved when the eviction took place, and were instantly radicalised by the violence on show.

The eviction cost over £100,000, and the council subsequently spent over a million pounds paying the bailiffs to guard the garden 24 hours a day, causing serious distress in the immediate neighbourhood, as the bailiffs were not always friendly, the garden was floodlit at night, and guard dogs in the garden barked all night. Eventually, after campaigners persuaded a tree services company hired to cut down the trees to withdraw from their contract, the council found a more pliable company, and that destruction took place on February 27 this year, on the same day that, with breathtaking hypocrisy, the council declared a “climate emergency.”

The campaigners, however, continued their resistance, symbolically occupying the green next to the garden and causing the council further headaches, but in May they withdrew, fearing crippling legal costs in a court case. However, although the green was soon boarded up, building works have not begun.

Instead, Sherrygreen Homes and Peabody have begun work on a second site, Amersham Vale, which was stealthily twinned with Tidemill at the planning stage, where 120 new properties are to be built, 81 of which will be for private sale, in a development marketed, without a trace of irony, as ‘The Muse.’ Once this cash cow is underway, the development of the Tidemill site — where only 51 of the proposed 209 properties are for private sale — will presumably begin, and it will be interesting to see, when this does eventually happen, what resistance there will be, as campaigners have not given up on the residents of Reginald House, whose homes shouldn’t be destroyed, and who have never been given a ballot to ask what they want, and campaigners also continue to insist that the garden should be re-planted and retained, which would actually be a significant gesture on the council’s part towards tackling the “climate emergency” that they so hollowly declared back in February.

Keep watching for updates — and do check out what’s happening at Amersham Vale — but in the meantime enjoy my photos below, of the beauty of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden, and its exhilarating two-month occupation last year.

We all still miss it every day.

Source and lots of fotos at Andy Worthington’s blog

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Squatter’s Digest: Greek edition

Greece, the home of democracy. And molotov cocktails. They also enjoy regular cocktail nights to raise money for the squats and imprisoned anarchists. It’s one thing to know what is going on inside the UK with regards to squats, but I feel we are severely lacking in communication with squats across Europe, or indeed the world. Hopefully I can bring to you some of the news from some of the squats in Greece along with the usual round-up of news from London and beyond.

Setting The Scene

A quick explanation of how the law works in Greece, from a meeting I had with a lawyer personally involved in one of the local neighbourhood squats. Unlike in the UK, squatting is a criminal rather than civil matter. It is based around a few points in the penal code, such as breaching someone’s right to asylum in their own house, or disturbing the community. However the police cannot act unless a complaint is made by the owner to the state prosecutor, who then instructs the police to enforce it. For public buildings there is a bit of a loophole in the penal code dating back to 1938, and a lot of squats in Greece fall into a kind of “hybrid” category, meaning the prosecutor is less likely to take action unless pushed by the local government. However as of the 1st of July this year, the penalties have gone up in accordance with the introduction of a new penal code. What were simple misdemeanours for resisting can now be classified as heavier breaches of law, and can see a jail-term of 3 years, up from the previous maximum of 1 year. Interestingly this was introduced at the same time as the reduction of a lot of other penalties, prompting outrage from other parties. In any case this was the doing of Syriza, and with the election on July 7th, the conservative New Democracy is back in power, so things can be expected to only get worse (more on this later).
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Barcelona: We reoccupied Ca La Trava

We have returned to Ca La Trava, now an empty plot, and we are not planning to leave. This space, until now closed, will again be open to the neighborhood, and we will defend it as we have defended our houses. We want it to be again a trench from which to resist the onslaught of the speculators and give war to all those who are destroying our neighborhood. If in Ca La Trava they make luxury flats we all lose, and we can’t allow that.
These are times of empty phrases, of euphemisms, of symbolisms without content and of politicians contradicting each new declaration. For this reason, we want to make it clear that when we say “Ca La Trava will never be luxury flats” we say it as seriously as possible. The struggle of Ca La Trava is not a lost struggle, and resquatting is not an improvised decision or the fruit of sentimentalism. Our goal is to win and we are convinced that we will.
We live in a Barcelona devastated by speculation and which expels us from our homes to build luxury flats. We need to fight against every rent increase, for every flat, every block and every plot of land. That’s why we have squatted and reoccupied Ca La Trava, we resist and will resist eviction, and that’s why we encourage you all to come closer, participate in this space and make your own this struggle that affects us all.
Let them meet the rising up Barcelona, the rebellious Barcelona, the Rose of Foc. Let’s make our cry a reality.
Ca La Trava
Travessera de Gràcia 154
calatrava [at] riseup [dot] net

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Cologne: Police intruded in Elster

After Deutsche Bahn (DB, German Railways) yesterday filed a criminal complaint against the occupation of Vogelsanger Str. 230, the police today gained access to the Elster 230 and recorded personal data of individuals*r.
All this happens against the background that next Monday talks are to take place between the city and DB, as we learned today.

As a result of unconfirmed sources from the mayor’s office, we also learned that the mayor is now also trying to persuade DB to negotiate with us. There the opinion is represented that t DB should hear at least our offers, before other steps are introduced.
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Tucson, AZ: Autonomous Mutual Aid Center & InfoShop Opens

In May we opened the doors to the Blacklidge Community Collective; an all inclusive, anarchist info shop and mutual aid center in so-called Tucson, Arizona. The BCC is a space for like-minded people who share a similar vision of the future. We want a future where people aren’t unwillingly sleeping on the streets while many homes sit vacant. A future where the surplus food is shared, not thrown away. A future that is built by our reliance on each other, by attempting to hold something in common, not one built by competition and exploitation. We want a future where anyone can build their own life, their own vision, through their own autonomy and self determination.

We work towards this future by striving to understand our communities needs. Through the guiding principles of consent, collaboration, harm reduction, and autonomy we hope to build our capacities to support individual and collective needs for health, stability, comfort, joy and knowledge. We understand that each individual has individual needs but we also understand there is a collective aspect to every individual, to every need. We hope to foster this collectivity in every encounter, through connecting and expanding networks of care and support and resource outside of our space, linking up with other projects new and old. We also share a vision of bringing people together through art, music, creativity and workshops and desire to make these things accessible, fun, and welcoming. We desire a space that is appealing and exciting for people of many backgrounds and experiences and we hope to foster relationships here that can overcome intolerance, hierarchy, and bigotry in all its forms. To this end we also wish to resolve conflicts and hope to ultimately transform our ways of relating to each other through talking, living, and sharing together, even when that is messy and hard.
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What went wrong for the municipalists in Spain?

On May 26, citizens across Spain went to the polls to vote in municipal and European elections. The results were widely seen as a setback to the municipalist wave that swept Spain’s major cities four years prior. Carlos Delclós published one explanation, focusing on the gap between their hype and their policies and how the Catalan independence movement has upset the landscape. To put it simply, parliamentary majorities are now all but impossible, given that the divide between Left and Right has been further divided by a perpendicular axis, the one between Spanish nationalism and Catalan nationalism.

There are, however, a whole series of failings that stem from the actual programs and interventions of the municipalist parties. Weeks of wrangling to turn the divided vote into feasible coalitions has given us even more examples of politics as usual in the last month, and I think we are obliged to take an honest look at the four years the governments of change have been in power. Delclós has mentioned some accomplishments; I will focus on failings.
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Bure (France): Forest reoccupied

Check the info points on for news, especially before coming on site.

Next to Bure, France, Lejuc forest is reoccupied since the 18th of july at 14h. Many people have moved into the place, on the ground as well as in the trees to reaffirm their opposition to the project of radioactive waste burrying center Cigéo, to nuclear power and the industrial, colonial, military world that goes with it. The police forces that occupied this strategic location until then and protected Andra’s interests were forced to leave. From now on, we call for people to come here in Lejuc forest, as well as in Bure and Mandres-en-Barrois, two villages located two kilometers from the forest.
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Amsterdam: Support the amazing OCCII!!

OCCII an awesome autonomous social in Amsterdam is doing a crowdfunding:

100% funded and still 30 days to go??!!

We’ve been surprised and thrilled to see that within hardly 10 days into the campaign through donations from more than 250 people to have already the full amount of 10.00 euro we asked for, our campaign is 100% funded!

This surpassed our wildest dreams and we thank everyone that has already made a donation! However, being a DIY venue we have been humble in asking our supporters for financial help. The goal we set up is the bare minimum we need.

We decided to raise the current goal, it could give us the change to invest into the acoustics of the space. When viable we could then invest in new monitors, mixer, some new durable mics and cables all needed to increase the sound experience at the venue. For our visitors and performers alike!
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Amsterdam: Da Costastraat 137 got squatted

On Sunday 9 June, Da Costastraat 137H got squatted in Amsterdam. This apartment has been standing vacant for years. The home belongs to a person who has 22 properties on his name. There is also a limited company in his name, which has a further 99 properties.

The main reason that we did this action was to provide ourselves with living space. We would be happy to rent the property for a reasonable price. Yet there are still a number of points that we want to make.

In the Oud-West district, the up to 14 year waiting time for a social rent home is disproportionate. Oud-West is therefore one of the neighbourhoods where the number of social rent properties has long fallen below the lower limit of 35%. Below this level you don’t have a mixed neighborhood. Unfortunately, this is already the reality in large swathes of the city. The lower limit has already been passed in (most parts of) Centrum, West, Zuid, en Ijburg. In West it is not only about Oud-West but also De Baarsjes. This is an issue we are very concerned about.

A significant example is the wasteland on the Jan Pieter Heijestraat, where 35 social rent units were demolished back in 2009. Instead of new homes coming in their place, it turned out the pla was to build a hotel. Now, 10 years later, this terrain is still not developed.

Recently, the neighbourhood has been hit hard by gentrification. With shitty marketing tricks such as the Hallenkwartier project, the district has been sold for a song and it becomes increasingly unaffordable. The city is becoming a sort of amusement park for tourists and big money, with the residents always coming last. The poorest people are (like normal) the hardest hit. Thye might be permitted to work in the city, but decent housing is too much to ask.

Despite all this, through taking matters into our own hands we now have a temporary solution for housing and we are giving an apartment some life again.

Translated from the Dutch

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Rozbrat under threat

Rozbrat, an anarchist squatted space in Poland, has called for solidarity in face of eviction threat.

Rozbrat is located in the western Poland city of Poznan. The property was squatted in 1994 and since then it became an alternative politics and cultural centre. It also serves as a home for over 20 people, and is both temporary and permanent shelter for homeless people.
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