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Brutal eviction of Squat in Vienna (Spitalgasse 11) | 14.04.2008 21:28 | 2008 Days Of Action For Autonomous Spaces | Free Spaces | Repression | Social Struggles | World

During the international action days for squats and autonomous spaces many activities took place in Vienna. After a powerful demonstration on Friday demanding free and autonomous spaces, followed by squatting a new place for the Viennese “Wagenburg”, the second day started with a “Bim Party” during which several tramways were occupied. In the evening dozens of people met to discuss queer-feminist aspects of squatting and their practical implications.

After those already very powerful and motivating two days of action hundreds of people “surprisingly” squatted a building in the city centre of Vienna at Spitalgasse 11. The five-storey building has been empty for many years and is known as object of estate speculation, owned by a real estate company.

Activists entered the building around 8 PM without being noticed by the police who guarded a nearby location that has been subject of several squat actions in the past. After one hour they discovered the “real” squat and showed up at the scene. Since they were not able to elicit the owner of the building they left, announcing to be back at 1 PM the next day.

Immediately after entering the house people started to set up infrastructure and carried loads of material into the building. A kitchen was installed, electricity and water supply were arranged and banners hung out of the windows. Soon a first house plenary started to discuss matters of communication, basic organization, the usage of different rooms and storeys and further strategies. After a few hours more than 200 people joined in several activities (free-cinema, sound systems, live jam-sessions, workshops, cooking, hanging out at the roof top terrace enjoying a marvellous view…).

Until Sunday noon the squatters could peacefully follow their activities. A communiqué has been released, claiming space for free and autonomous centres and housing projects. Early afternoon police started showing up. During the following hours more and more police arrived and announced a coming eviction. Early in the evening an array of almost hundred riot cops, four ambulances, police dogs, two police helicopters and four fire brigade trucks surrounded the building. At this time still 200 activists were around to defend their squat. At 7.30 PM the eviction started, with riot cops moving violently towards the activists starting to encircle them. From the people around one person was brutally arrested. Activists trying to give legal support were violently kicked aside and detained. Media activists were sent away from the scenery.

A group of some 20 people blocked the front door, supported by 50 more activists caught in the circle and about 100 behind the police lines, while inside the house another 50 activists prepared for eviction by barricading doors and windows. Outside the house police started taking people out of the circle one by one to gather their IDs. Dogs were used to scare the detained and also allowed to jump on their backs. The local clown army helped the police by building their own barrier around the circled persons, which was transformed into a playground.
At 9pm all those before the house have been marched off and the storm into the building started. After braking through the barricades activists inside were violently carried outside one by one. It took the cops three hours to find all of the around 50 squatters, some of them while still participating at workshops in the house. Sexist and humiliating announcements followed by unnecessary physical violence by the cops were reported. Around midnight the house was empty, 80 activists gathered for a demonstration in front of the local police station to demand the release of the still detained person. After two hours of loud and massive protest he was finally released.

During the whole night police was seen around the building. Even in the nearby university area cops were patrolling with dogs, taking people’s IDs without reason.

In solidarity with all other squatters for a free and autonomous life…
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