Friday, April 6, 2012

Rome, Warsaw squats withstand attacks

Rome: Accusations against housing movements in Rome demolished by Tribunal

In September 2009, hundreds of Carabinieri stormed a school in the Magliana area of Rome and arrested dozens of people who were occupying it. The charges made against them were super harsh: organised crime, extortion, possession of weapons, theft, assaulting police officers, and more. The arrests took place during a relentless propaganda campaign orchestrated against the occupations by the local media.

Several politicians, including Rome’s Mayor Alemanno, released statements in solidarity with the police operation, against those “dangerous criminals” that were hiding behind the occupations. A few people spent months in prison, some lost their jobs as a result of it.

Now the judges confirm that the accusations made by the Carabinieri and the right were a joke. No evidence at all has been found for any of the charges made, and therefore the case is closed. Finally, even the justice system confirms what we already knew: that the housing movements are nothing more than groups of people who decide to refuse the exploitation of higher and higher rents and mortgages; who organise in order to find concrete answers to the housing crisis; who fight for dignified housing for everyone.

“We know nobody will apologise for the mud that’s been thrown at all of us” the umbrella housing organisation declared, “but we hope that at least now the police forces, together with some journalists and politicians, will find something better to fill their time with, instead of always criminalising people who fight for their rights.”

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Warsaw: Elba squat stays!

Elba squat was raided on March 16th, 2012, by henchmen of a private security company who received assistance from the Polish police. The project was established in 2004. The Finnish company Stora Enso (the owner of the premises) has been well aware of Elba’s existence and activity and, after protests two years ago, the presence of the squatters in the area was accepted. No user of the building was notified of a scheduled date of eviction, so the incursion came as a total surprise for the people living in the squat, which is the biggest and oldest active social and cultural centre in Warsaw.

Shortly after 11am, guards hired by the ‘Skrzecz’ security agency broke into the building. They didn’t present an eviction warrant and used violence against squatters in order to force them to leave the property. The squatters resisted, and one person barricaded himself in his room and at least six others occupied the roof of the building. They issued an urgent call for help and support. Soon, police units arrived at the place. The fact that the attempted eviction was illegal was ignored by the police, who instead started to block the solidarity demo.

After a few hours, there were around 100 protesters trying to stop the eviction, facing nearly 30 riot cops who were assisting the security agents. The protesters clashed with the police, who attacked them using tear gas and truncheons; however, no large-scale clashes occurred. As the time passed, more police units showed up surrounding the squatters and supporters. Shortly after 6pm, the police received orders to disperse and started to remove reporters from the place. That seemed to be the start of a brutal eviction. Yet, police and security guards finally left the area, at 8pm. This allowed people to enter the squat and take it back.


~ ~ ~

A footage of last week’s demonstration of Elba Squat followers has been made available.

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has issued the eviction observation report.

Visit Elba’s official website to find out more [Polish].

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