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Met raid homes of campaigners against Anti-squatting law

SNOB (Squatters Network Of Brighton), individual, not "spokesperson" | 28.04.2011 16:11 | Free Spaces | Repression | Social Struggles | South Coast

Yesterday 2 squats and one other property in Brighton and Hove were raided by Met police from London, looking for known activists. The squats were illegally evicted and around 6-10 people arrested. They were part of a group campaigning against Hove MP Mike Weatherley's attempts to criminalise squatting

Yesterday (wed 27/04/11) early in the morning, about 8am, two squats in Hove were illegally evicted by over 30 Metropolitan police officers. They had photos of three known anarchist activists from recent demos in London, that they said they wanted to arrest for "conspiracy to cause violent disorder".

This is believed to be part of Operation Brontide, a met police operation to round up people they believe to be "ringleaders" behind acts of criminal damage at some of the student demos, and the 26th March TUC demo.

Only one of the three activists they were looking for in Brighton was actually there when they raided. He was taken all the way to a police station in central London to be held for 8 hours and be given bail conditions banning him from being in central London!
This clearly indicates that part of the reason for the raids was to keep "troublemakers" away from the Royal Wedding on Friday.

This is despite the fact that Brighton anarchists are organising a separate Mayday demo which they are advertising under the heading "fuck the royal wedding, come to brighton instead", which makes it pretty clear that the brighton activists have no intention of going to London for the royal fucking wedding anyway.

The police seized laptops belonging to the squatters, evicted the rest of the occupants and locked the rest of their belongings inside, leaving dozens of people homeless and with only the clothes on their backs. They also arrested several squatters for abstraction of electricity and one for possession of a small bit of weed, probably to justify their unwarranted violence post-hoc in usual police style. In doing all of this they went far beyond the powers given to them by the search warrant: theoretically they should have just left the squats be as soon as they saw that the other specific individuals they were looking for weren't there.

These two squats were about to be legally evicted anyway, they had already lost their court cases and were just waiting for the official notice of eviction which in standard procedure gives a few days warning for when the bailiffs are going to come. Instead the police saved the property owners a bit of cash by ILLEGALLY evicting them instead, courtesy of the taxpayer.

The two squats were in Hove, the constituency of Mike Weatherley MP, the rich tory bastard who is leading the current attempt to criminalise squatting by submitting a private members bill to parliament. He needs 100 MPs to sign it before it will be debated by the House of Commons, and so far he only has 23.
If this bill makes it through parliament it will almost certainly lead to more deaths from poverty in this country, as cuts housing benefit and homelessness services are also going through, leaving those too poor to afford sky-high rent no option but to sleep rough with no protection.

Squatters in hove, including at the two squats illegally evicted yesterday, are actively involved in the Squatters' Network Of Brighton (SNOB) which is trying to put political pressure on Weatherley to halt this attack on squatters rights in its tracks, through using the media to convince his constituents that its a stupid policy to hopefully make him worry about losing votes in the future.

The fact that these two squats were evicted by police who seemed to know they were home to activists, raises obvious questions about whether Mike Weatherley had a hand in these raids. They clearly benefited his interests: not only are some of his political opponents in SNOB now temporarily unable to carry on campaigning due to homelessness, but also two squats in his constituency were tarred with the "violent criminal" brush in the eyes of many Hove dwellers by the mere fact of police involvement. This may undermine the efforts of brighton squatters to improve the image of squatting in the area, for example through the recent "Sabotaj" social centre project which gained the support of thousands of citizens.

We cannot let this attack stop our activities to defend squatters rights!
SNOB would like to call on all squatters and pro-squatting activists around the UK to start similar campaigns against other MPs who have signed the Private Members Bill so far, and against those likely to, especially Tories. A full list of them and their constituencies can be found here:

Some of them are in or near cities with reasonable seized activist/squatting scenes such as Manchester, Cardiff, Hereford and Belfast. Please get in touch if you would like to help in this campaign.

SNOB (Squatters Network Of Brighton), individual, not "spokesperson"
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