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Squatting Demo Shut Down by Police

Rueben Taylor | 01.11.2011 06:10 | SOCPA | Free Spaces | Policing | Social Struggles

Police have arrested at least a dozen people who were sleeping on the streets outside parliament in protest against the potential criminalisation of squatting. In a last minute amendment to their Legal Aid and Sentence Bill, the government will today be voting on Clause 26, which will make squatting in residential properties illegal. Hundreds of people met at different locations in London last night to express opposition to the Clause, and finally congregated at Parliament Square, where they were “kettled” and arrested en mass for trying to sleep on the streets.

Late last night police arrested homelessness protesters for attempting to sleep outside Parliament against government plans to criminalise squatting. Hundreds of police were deployed to kettle a ‘mass sleep out’ against a proposed late amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill to be voted on today, that would criminalise squatting in residential buildings.

After a critical mass bike ride protesters attempted to sleep out on Parliament Green but were surrounded and ordered to disperse under SOCPA. The controversial act – currently being repealed – was used to prevent the protest, and to make a number of arrests after “kettling” it. The kettle included a number of journalists and legal observers.

Campaigners from Squatters Action for Secure Homes (SQUASH) had accused the government of ‘bypassing democracy’ by sneaking the amendment through parliament after 96% of consultation responses argued for no change in the existing law. Tonight campaigners claim that the basic right to protest against being homeless is being undermined by the police’s actions.

Reuben Taylor from SQUASH said after getting out of the kettle:

’96% of respondents to consultation said no to the criminalisation of squatting. Before the results were published an amendment was slipped into an unrelated bill with little debate. When the 96% come to protest, they kettle and arrest them. Democracy is no longer just being bypassed its being totally disregarded.’

She added:

‘SOCPA says you have to register a protest 7 days in advance but a week ago today they hadn’t even announced the amendment.’

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Display the following 4 comments

  1. 12 more political prisoners — Ello Ello
  2. article on The Guardian website : — Anony Mouse
  3. "96% of respondents to consultation said no to the criminalisation of squatting" — corrections and clarifications
  4. re: corrections and clarifications — predictable response to a predictable response