Lambeth renters’ solidarity

Lambeth Renters, an organisation of private renters, has refused a meeting with MP Chuka Umunna because of his call for the further criminalisation of squatting.
See full story at http://lambethrenters.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/lambeth-renters-refuse-meeting-with-local-mp/
STOP CRIMINALISING SQUATTING
REQUISITION ALL EMPTIES

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WHAT’S HAPPENING?

we hear about all sorts of things happening, which need to be challenged

• dodgy evictions by bailiffs without notice or court papers
• attempted forced entry by owners or their workers
• police not following up when crimes have been committed against us

If we don’t challenge these things they’ll continue to get away with it.

We need details, as soon as possible, in writing (with any other evidence) so we can make complaints and challenges, as well help us advise others.

So, please, help us to help you, and everyone else.

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HALDANE SOCIETY OF SOCIALIST LAWYERS invites you to attend our Human Rights lectures 2014

WEDNESDAY 15 JANUARY 2014: Government’s attack on squatters. Speakers
David Watkinson, barristers, and Advisory Service for Squatters.

THURSDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2014: UK human rights violation in Afghanistan and
Iraq – the present picture. Speaker: Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers.

All lectures at 6.30pm at the University of Law, 14 Store Street, London
WC1A 7DE.

Admission free. We regret that CPD points are not available. Further
information: www.haldane.org.

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Section 144 – some good news at last.

The tide seems to be turning against Section 144, or at least against some aspects (which we would have said weren’t covered by S144 anyway)

Firstly, one of the few convictions has been overturned. Dirk was nicked on a roof in Brighton just after the new law came in, with two others. The other two were found not guilty of the crime of living in a residential property, but Dirk was found guilty on the basis of police claims that he had said something about living there. On appeal the conviction was overturned as the police claims were ruled inadmissible.
More details from the wonderful SchNews at http://www.schnews.org.uk/stories/JEMMY-BUGGER!/
“No comment” is always the best response if you don’t want to be misquoted.

And secondly we’ve seen protestors in Southwark successfully argue police out of using S144, and other spurious charges to try to remove them. 21/23 Park Street was occupied in protest at its sell-off at auction by the council, further reducing the amount of much needed social housing in the area. The council claimed they needed to sell the property to pay for new housing, but since 2010 they have sold or demolished 857 homes while building 26.
This event has covered by national and local press, as well as SchNews of course.

ASS have notices for responding to all sorts of threatened misuses of S144, as well as the standard Legal Warnings for non-residential properties on the website. If you think you might need one give us a call and we’ll tailor-make one to your needs.

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1st birthday of S144

Dear Persons Unknown:

You are cordially
invited to attend the
1st birthday of S144
street party near you

September 1st, 2013

Wish list:
-Occupations
-Banner Drops
-Flyposting
-Other fun things

CALL FOR DECENTRALISED ACTION!
On the 1st of September squatting residential properties will
have been illegal for 1 year.
In this year, people were kicked out of their homes, forced to
pay fines, went to prison, and even died because of this law.
Against a backdrop of rising homelessness, unemployment
and attacks on housing benefit, the rich pass laws in their own
interest. The ruling class want to restrict our housing options
still further – to push us out of our homes and out of our cities.
Get together with your squatmates and other precariously
housed people to prepare the coming birthday celebrations.
Come together, empower each other, and organise to fight
back against attacks on all our housing.
We can fight by resisting evictions, refusing increased rents
and creating new spaces and opportunities for ourselves by
taking possession of unused property. Let’s mark this
anniversary by reminding ourselves and others that we are
still here and these options will continue to exist law or no
law.
These struggles are at their most basic the fight for shelter.
We will not “demand our rights” or beg for the minimum, but
take what we need.
Fill the empties not the prisons!
Repeal section 144!
What present will you give?

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office volunteer training

being all volunteers and needing more people, and needing to retrain ourselves often, we’re planning another session of office training on Sunday 26th May.
contact us if you’re interested for more info

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Protest at Trial for New Squatting Law

9.30am Monday April 22 at Brighton Magistrates Court, Edward Street Brighton, BN1 0LG

The trial begins Monday 22 April of the three people arrested last year in a building on London Road in Brighton. The men were originally charged with squatting in a residential premises (under s144 LASPOA 2012), obstruction of a police officer, and abstraction of electricity, however the abstraction charge has already been dropped due to lack of evidence.

….. see http://rooftopresistance.squat.net/press-release/

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on the death of Daniel Gauntlett, the first known death from S144

Dear Argus

Mike Weatherley MP’s response in your paper to the news of the death of Daniel Gauntlett shows how out of touch with reality he is.

Daniel Gauntlett, a 35 year old homeless man was unable to find shelter in an unused bungalow, due for demolition, and died of hypothermia sleeping outside it.

Weatherley is proud to be responsible for a new law criminalising people living in otherwise empty residential properties, a law which apparently local police threatened Mr Gauntlett with.

Weatherley says “It is true that some of those who are homeless have squatted but this does not make them squatters”, clearly a false distinction when it comes passing laws against an activity. As was explained in many of the responses to the “consultation” of the government prior to this law change, many homeless people do what this law makes a crime, in order to survive. No notice was taken of these responses.

He also says “If squatters really cared about the homeless then they would help them access council services, not scare them into believing that they would be arrested.” Clearly it was the police who scared Mr Gauntlett into not taking life-saving shelter, on the basis of Mr Weatherley’s law. The Advisory Service for Squatters has been advising squatters and other homeless people for 38 years and has been happy to help people get council housing, but this is increasingly difficult. We would also love not to scare people into believing that they will be arrested but Weatherley’s law makes this more difficult too. It is not clear to us which of the few surviving council services Mr Gauntlett might have got access to.

There are a number of confusing statements about the law. He states that “Trespassing has been illegal in this country for hundreds of years” which is clearly untrue, and would have made his law unnecessary. He confuses the 1977 Protection from Eviction Act,  protecting tenants, with that part of the 1977 Criminal Law Act which protects others from forcible eviction without lawful authority.

Most importantly Weatherley makes a false distinction between those who squat because they have to and those who might have a certain amount more choice, both of whom are criminalised anyway. Those that he considers as squatters (as against those he considers mere victims) are those who are angry at the fact that property rights are more important than people’s lives, that social housing is under sustained attack while the property tycoons who sponsor Weatherley’s political campaign are responsible for thousands of empty properties. We hope that squatting will continue to provide shelter for people like Daniel Gauntlett, space for social protest and community activity like the Barnet library saved by occupation, and for other expressions of resistance and experimentation against the domination of private property and money. It isn’t squatters who are “society-hating” it is those like Weatherley who can only understand society and human need in terms of money and profit.

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Campaigning and fighting back

our friends, colleagues and ourselves wearing different hats are stepping up the campaign to defeat this government’s attempts to stop people housing themselves and making use of empty properties.

SQUASH (Squatters Action for Secure Homes) are working on a number of plans, and have set up a petition to repeal Section 144 at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44597  Check out their link down the page a bit.

and Squattastic are having their first gathering of the year this Sunday 17th with practical and legal workshops 2-6 and people’s kitchen from 7. Text 07591 415 860 to get details, and check their link down below.

Plenty more stuff coming up soon, keep your eyes and ears peeled….

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Freedom firebombed

The building where ASS is based was firebombed this morning (1st February)

Fortunately nobody was hurt and damage was limited by the prompt intervention of the fire service, but there is some damage, including to the electricity supply. This means we’re having some problems accessing our email, and will generally have a bit more difficulty doing stuff.

Freedom bookshop has lost stock and archives of Freedom magazine going back over decades.

We will not be giving up.

http://www.freedompress.org.uk/news/2013/02/01/freedom-firebombed/

UPDATE: electrics are back to normal so ASS office is back up and running as usual.

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