On Monday 20th of February, local activists from Hackney, London, occupied three Victorian and Georgian buildings in order to stop the threat of demolition. The intention is to turn them into a community and social centre, instead of seeing the buildings sold off to private developers. The site consists of the Victorian Dalston Theatre and a pair of Georgian townhouses. Although some officials argue they are in a derelict state, members of the community are convinced that the theatre has a big potential as a cultural, social and community resource [Photos and Report]
At about 8am, council officers turned up and told the occupiers that they had to vacate the building by 9 or they would send in the police to evict them. Later in the morning, workmen from Byline (the contractors hired by Hackney Council) and police forced entry to the occupied theatre. Activists then climbed to the buidling's rooftops to defend the occupation, and have been up there to the day. [Read thoughts from the people resisting the demolition]
On Wednesday March 1st the case went to the High Court in a drive by Hackney council to rush the eviction. The Court unexpectedly refused to decide on the case, and ruled that the Council's claim for possession "should be transferred to the County Court" [report] On Friday March 3rd Shoreditch County Court issued an Interim Possession Order, which gives 24 hours to the occupiers to vacate the buildings. On Saturday 4th, a Guerrilla Screening and Open meeting were organised in the street outside the Theatre.
An eviction can now happen at any time, and the occupiers call for everyone to go down there and support the resistance when it happens. Call 07919998567 for the latest info.
- Tuesday March 14th (Occupant's statement at Shoreditch County Court)
- Saturday March 4th (Guerrilla Screening and Open meeting ... resistance to the eviction starts)
- Friday March 3rd (Theatre faces an imminent eviction following Interim Possession Order)
- Wednesday March 1st (Occupation wins in High Court but eviction proceedings continue)
- Tuesday 28th (To the people of Dalston, Why we are here)
- Monday 27th (Social Centre opens ... all welcome)
- Saturday 25th
- Tuesday 21st [more and pics]
The activists call for people to go down there to show solidarity with the occupation, as well as to help clearing up the building and getting involved in the poject. People are also welcome to just drop by and have a chat and share ideas for the project. There is also a call for people to help resist any fruther attempts of eviction. The address is 4-14 Dalston Lane, London E8.
If you can't get down there, you may like to phone the contractors, Byline, on 0146 2670591, to register your disgust.
Thoughts from the people resisting the demolition in the roof of Dalston Lane theatre. Day seven:
This was written during the cold night of day two. Apologies to the 'UK' Zapatista collectives that are gathering in Bristol. We're really sorry we can't be there to share our views on the 6th Declaration and resistance to the capitalism system from the first world. Instead we are doing it.
We are up here alone in the roof so that one day we can be down there with people, because to us this is what being rebels is, to gather enough experience to push to help those that wouldn't or couldn't do at first, to be up here then up there, again? And then ultimately down there, to talk with people and learn what they have to say and so that we get to tell them how we see the world too, and hopefully we agree and we get to work and do stuff together to change it so we all like who we are being.
So far in just a couple of days we got many many thank yous and even some tears from the ones without a voice in Hackney. Well it doesn't even matter where we come from and how we look like. What is in it for us they asked? They know we are freezing and worse, even when we have our little Zapatista balaclavas on to give us warmth and strength and to remind us that our noses are too big and that that is the point, that us with the long noses and white skins and gringo accents are the ones that are eating the world, and so that we also must take the responsability and fight to participate in the solution, and that alone we cannot make it, and that for sure if we use what we learned and speak it slowly and with respect in the streets, and among ourselves as a collective. And we learn to listen to those down there looking up and smiling though they are sad too like us, deep inside, that then we will be part of another day where we send the world in a different direction, opposite to where the baddies are sending it and that with enough pushes in enough days with enough of us, then one day enough will be enough.
And we would really have helped those with the shorter noses and the forests and the rivers and the seas and the sky where we live, and everything that lives in it, to take what the baddies wont give us and keep what they want to take from us.
And that process starts here now in Hackney, and it doesn't matter anymore that we were few and that we don't know what we are doing really, because now we have our territory and we are going to defend it with whatever is left of the comuntity here or with whatever common unity we can all build...
Don't really expect people reading this to be in Hackney, or to be the kind that is looking up and smiling, more think of you as I think of me, like you are activists like we are, and that's why you read and post in this site. So there is no point giving you trendy words and special facts and figures, trying to convince you about the real state of the world and the big shit we are turning it into, you must be paying attention...
Instead we ask you to come and join this project we just started with Hackney, and share what u have and learn what you don't know. We have a great space and a great bunch of companyeros inside and in the area, so if you live here come, take part in this. And if you are far away, keep fighting with your friends, build networks large and small, dont give up & keep in touch. Please feel free to make this text better.
More soon. Un saludo guegones.
Para todos, todo!
Everything for everyone!
To the people of Dalston
It' s time for us (the people who are occupying the theatre) to tell you why we are here. And why we decided to do our bit to resist the demolition of these houses, the theatre behind, and the gentrification of the wider Dalston area all around us that for years has been part of your lives.
This is our first chance to start to explain, how it is that we feel connected with you. We hope to have more time to build among us something precious: trust.
From the beginning of this experience, we haven't really had the opportunity to speak or listen to you. Whatever you know about us, you got it from your own conceptions of us on the roofs, and from our banners and signs, or from what the local newspapers and tv made up of what is going on here. Careful then... here is our version.
First we went in and we occupied the theatre and the houses in Dalston lane. Then the building company arrived and were given orders by the council to force their way in. The police ignored the illegality of this and Hackney council gained entry to the theatre. But we didn't give up, even despite one of us being forced up on to the roof after being blocked in by the builders. Our sister has remained on the roof ever since while the rest of us are working hard to make this house comfortable so we can invite you in and meet you personally.
Funny how things happen. Like everywhere in the world, and for millions of years, Dalston is a place where in the past, the mix of cultures, customs and everyday living has opened up the possibility for people to come to know each other and collaborate to survive and enjoy each others companies. This has been important in creating strong relationships in our neighbourhood. As in many places around the world, all this is disappearing.
With car culture and shopping centres, supermarkets and decisions from the top, behind the brand new buildings and brand new people. we spend more and more time rushing, indoors, afraid and/or alone and lonely although we are surrounded by people more or less like us. They like that, it keeps us appart and stops us from collaborating and being strong and independent. we depend on them for everything, and so they become powerful and do whatever they like, although we know that someone else makes the decisions in some company or politicians office far, far away. They can and do put what they call 'economic growth' and development above and beyond any sense of real community, now the council have decreed this theatre and our collective memories must be destroyed to make room for a mega project in which money is at the centre of any decision and those who have no money get nothing. Where profits for developers mean housing and shops that ordinary people, and perhaps those who have lived here all their lives, can't afford.
When we loose our memories and have no places we recognise as ours then we stop caring about what and who is around us, and without recognising our environment we don't know who we are, we don't know where and who are the things and the people that we need to survive. The planet and Dalston are not dying, they are being killed, and those who are doing it have names, addresses and are in power... funny that they are having their salaries being paid by you too. ha!
They tried to be clever, leaving the theatre to go to ruin for years so they have an excuse to get rid of it and at the same time they hoped that we'd forget about how much life and memories it gave to the local community.
What happens when we refuse to forget? We begin to care. We care about the gift we receive when we build a society where we don't feel alone, where our community is really organised according to the will of everybody in it. We care and we know we can really achieve what we want. We are on the roof and we are cleaning and nailing things, You might be passing by but we'd really like you to come in and become us and do your bit, it is your home and your Dalston and your World.
We all can do things in different ways (and it is important to do so), some people organise campaigns and challenge their decisions following the bureaucratic path that shows how corrupt the system is, others get together to occupy and reclaim back shops and trees that have been part of the community, others try to communicate through the media, some of us are the types that just stop in the streets and listen to anyone that speaks of a better world and ends up giving money to this or that cause, some of you got hands on the jobs straight away, most of us just looked up and thought... m m m. . . .
The most important thing is that we DO, that we don't forget that we CAN DO something about it all, that we don't know how to do it, but finding out is part of it. If we loose hope, we depend on them.
The group of people who are involved in this occupation are here because we believe that a strong neighbourhood is able to and must challenge any injustice. The direct action we decided to take in occupying the theatre is also a desperate cry to touch people's hearts. Nobody will change things around us for us, change needs to be affected by us.
These local struggles (Tony's café, Spirits shop in Broadway Market, etc) represent the wider battle fought by ordinary people around the world. Everywhere there is one more "Dalston Theatre" that is in danger of disappearing (and there's much worse happening). "Sustainable Development" is a greenwashing farce that is killing the earth and life with her for the benefit of the few. These silent wars are global but they are at their best fought locally and in solidarity with each other. Most around the world don't get the privilege of media attention! more like a shot in the back.
The resistance you witnessed in this first week is only the beginning of something we want to build with you. Our intention is to open a space where people's dignity is at the centre of it and where everything that has been take away from our life can find its way back in. we will carry on resisting because it is our responsibility to create the world we want to live in.
BY THE WAY!! The baddies don't really like us here, and are taking us to THE HIGH COURT. They think they can silence the screams from our hearts just like that and typically as for them we are like fast food, a ready made dinner, a frozen burger, all they give us in the High Courts of Justice is 30 minutes at gas mark 8.
Please do come to show your support. On Wednesday 1st of March, at 10:30, we will be in room 609 n the Royal COURT OF JUSTICE, Thomas More Buildng, The Strand, WC2A 2LL
THIS IS A SPECIAL CASE: IF THEY WIN AND WE RESIST THE EVICTION HACKNEY COUNCIL WILL SEND US TO PRISON FOR 6 MONTHS!
...and finally, whatever the court's outcome, we will attend the public meeting organised by OPEN DALSTON, the campaigning organisation opposing the demolition of the theatre, also on Wednesday 1st from 7pm @ St Michaels Hall, Colvostone Cres E8. Come and spend a day for the comunity. http://opendalston.blogspot.com
Thanks for reading, take care and hope to see you soon,
Persons Unknown. Everything4Everyone2006@yahoo.co.uk
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