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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. eviction
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.
Hobo Hilton front door
Occupy London Finsbury Square
Occupy London at St. Paul’s
Eileen, SOL: http://www.olympusrpg.com/selforganisedlondon/EileenHouse.html
Advisory Service For Squatters : http://www.squatter.org.uk/
Bitcoin and squats : http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/video/2013/mar/22/bitcoin-currency-video http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013–05/15/bitcoin-squat-visit
Our video made in squat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVLMY_nTlSA
Resent eviction: thtp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2339503/Hundreds-riot-police-Londons-streets-officers-raid-squat-HQ-G8-protesters.html
Article was written by Agnė Kyguolytė. Contact her firstname.lastname@example.org