LONDON behind the curtain: how I explored squat lifestyle

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Written by Agnė Kyguolytė

You wouldn’t believe it, but it is pos­sible to live in London without money. Unless you have psy­cho­lo­gical dif­fi­culties to eat food that was thrown away or wear second hand clothes. Or even spend big part of your daily life on the floor. It becomes so nat­ural for squat­ters, that after it seems inhu­mane to sit on the chair. Squat act­iv­ists are like the good para­sites of soci­ety– they are using the system’s gaps by liv­ing in unused houses, eat­ing wasted food and using other things that work­ing people don’t need. Squatting in London is flourishing.

Skvotas2

Squatters are observ­ers. They are not part of the game that hab­it­ants of the city play. Rules are for every­one, just not for squat­ters. In one house you can see many dif­fer­ent people, vary­ing from ex-​homeless to cap­it­al­ists, who’ve had enough. Different ages, races, mind­sets and social classes. Everyone lives together as one fam­ily. It exposes you to the whole soci­ety spec­trum. The daily life of those “out­siders” is very dif­fer­ent from ordin­ary city res­id­ents as well. The rhythm that they live by is much slower. Rituals, habits, philo­sophy even appear­ance is extraordin­ary. What con­nects them all is the feel­ing of dis­sat­is­fac­tion with what hap­pens around. The power that money has on people, con­stant need for more, con­strain­ing laws and repress­ive insti­tu­tions. All this shuts out human cre­ativ­ity, the expres­sion of indi­vidu­al­ity and unique­ness, takes away the right to live the life authen­tic­ally. And it’s not right. Even though the views on squats role in this „revolu­tion“ is dif­fer­ent, but revolu­tion­ary ideas bonds everyone.

daiktai

Living in a squat gives you deeper insight into human beha­vior. People are forced here to show who there really are. You can see clearly all the social games that people play in the streets. Squats make you to get out of your com­fort zone, unmask, to widen you social bound­ar­ies. You have to under­stand and accept each other, seek for com­prom­ises. If you haven’t learnt it in your fam­ily– that’s a great place for re-​socialization.

tara

The pop­u­lar belief that ‘squat­ters rights’ exist comes from a law which makes it illegal to threaten or use viol­ence to enter a prop­erty where someone is present and opposes the entry. This was intro­duced to stop some unscru­pu­lous land­lords using viol­ence to evict their ten­ants, but has also been quoted by squatters.

trys

Squatters shine in climb­ing cap­ab­il­it­ies. Walls does not exist for them. Once you’re in a build­ing, you put the Legal Warning (look at the photo below) on the front door. After that the house is offi­cially occu­pied, and you just wait for police to come. Police can do little about that, as the people are already inside, so they leave. Now squat­ters are the own­ers of the build­ing. At least for some time, until the real owner proves it wrong at the court. There is anonym­ity in the court, squat­ters usu­ally (not always though) loose the case, and from that time starts the wait­ing period till the evic­tion day. Sometimes there is res­ist­ance to evic­tion, but usu­ally squat­ters leave quietly.

Skvotas3
Squat Office
skvotai5
Squat Office

Organizing squat­ters is not an easy job. They tend not to listen for dir­ec­tions and they are quite sens­it­ive to any kind of pres­sure. So to organ­ize some­thing in squat com­munity could be hard some­times. Unless you live in squat that is ori­ent­ated to organ­iz­a­tional activ­it­ies. It’s called Social Centers or Political Squats. One of these examples could be Eileen House that las­ted for 6 weeks in the begin­ning of this year and was occu­pied by S.O.L (Self organ­ized London) (the link below). This col­lect­ive of dif­fer­ent groups of people was protest­ing against „ripping-​off hous­ing and social cleans­ing under the guise of regen­er­a­tion“ in the region of Elephant and Castle. So every week there was some events organ­ised — People’s Kitchen, movies, dis­cus­sions, clothes swap, music and art per­form­ances that brought neigh­bor­hood squat­ters together.

bitcoin

I stayed in polit­ical squat that included people from Occupy London move­ment. These act­iv­ists from 2011 October to 2012 Summer were camp­ing in cent­ral London (St Paul’s, Finsbury Square). In form of peace­ful protests, occu­pi­ers tried to expose their dis­sat­is­fac­tion with lob­by­ist power struc­tures of cap­it­al­ism like banks and cor­por­a­tions. The pro­test­ers were finally removed from pub­lic places. After that, the group of 70 people occu­pied a huge build­ing in Holborn region that was later named Hobo Hilton (pic below). So from then on these act­iv­ists have been pop­u­lated aban­doned build­ings in cent­ral London.

dinozaurai

There are quite a few anarch­istic people that believe in free soci­ety and are work­ing on it. Bitcoin act­iv­ists are one of them. Bitcoin is the first decent­ral­ized digital cur­rency. It is avail­able for every­one and the gov­ern­ment is incap­able to inter­rupt the spread of this altern­at­ive eco­nomy. People are empowered to use their money as they want for what they want. The cur­rency is the only way of sur­vival for pro­jects like Wikileaks or MEGA. Programmers are work­ing on devel­op­ment of Bitcoin, spread­ing their word out and try­ing to explain the import­ance and rel­ev­ance of this technology.

Roger str. iškeldinimas
Roger str. eviction
Iškeldinimo belaukiant
Waiting for eviction

People say that there could be the end of squat­ting in London soon. Squatting in a res­id­en­tial build­ings became illegal in September 2012, and gov­ern­ment is cur­rently work­ing on for­bid­ding it in other types of build­ings. Even if squat­ting is illegal, hope­fully they will never be able to chain the rebel­li­ous souls of squat­ters! Those birds give us hope that life can be dif­fer­ent, the hope that most of people have already lost. Or, sadly, never had it in the first place.

Legal warning
Vital doc­u­ment
Eileen house
Eileen House
hobo hilton door holborn
Hobo Hilton front door
finsbury square (3)
Occupy London Finsbury Square
occupy london,
Finsbury Square
finsbury square
Finsbury Square
occupy london
Occupy London at St. Paul’s

Links:

Eileen, SOL: http://​www​.olym​pus​rpg​.com/​s​e​l​f​o​r​g​a​n​i​s​e​d​l​o​n​d​o​n​/​E​i​l​e​e​n​H​o​u​s​e​.​h​tml

Advisory Service For Squatters : http://​www​.squat​ter​.org​.uk/

Bitcoin and squats : http://​www​.guard​ian​.co​.uk/​t​e​c​h​n​o​l​o​g​y​/​v​i​d​e​o​/​2​0​1​3​/​m​a​r​/​2​2​/​b​i​t​c​o​i​n​-​c​u​r​r​e​n​c​y​-​v​i​deo http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013–05/15/bitcoin-squat-visit

Our video made in squat: http://​www​.you​tube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​t​V​L​M​Y​_​n​T​lSA

Resent evic­tion: thtp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2339503/Hundreds-riot-police-Londons-streets-officers-raid-squat-HQ-G8-protesters.html

http://​www​.access​-legal​.co​.uk/​l​e​g​a​l​-​n​e​w​s​/​S​q​u​a​t​t​i​n​g​-​I​t​-​o​u​g​h​t​-​t​o​-​b​e​-​a​-​c​r​i​m​e​-​l​u​-​4​6​1​9​.​htm

Article was writ­ten by Agnė Kyguolytė. Contact her agne.​kyguolyte@​gmail.​com

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