good for bristol

Monday, 29 October 2012

Cops, Squatters and Zombies!

In the last few days I've been stopped and searched as a domestic extremist, arrested, illegally evicted from our new squat in Broadmead, surrounded by 5000 zombies and am now camped up in the Free Shop.

Last time I got a blog post in we were all in Kings Arms in Kingsdown, suffering and desperate to get out as the weather turned cold.  We got a tip off about a big empty shop in Broadmead with a door open round the back.  Some of us went down on Thursday night (25 October) to scope it out.  It looked good - a recently closed Bonmarche shop right in the middle of Broadmead with three floors, water, toilets and an intact roof.

We went back on Friday night to take it.  Less than ten minutes from leaving the Kings Arms we were stopped and searched as domestic extremists by the same Taunton police who'd been hanging around all the time outside the Clifton squat.  They were disappointed to find my bag wasn't full of heavy squat-breaking tools but instead contained clothes, bedding and my soft toy collection.

With a delay caused by the stop and search and a certain amount of confusion in the aftermath we finally took the new place in Broadmead at about 3am on Saturday morning.  After securing it I - with all my clothes and bedding left in the Kings Arms - had to crash out on a hard floor and try and sleep in a freezing, unheated room.

So by daybreak Saturday I'd gone two nights with practically no sleep whatsoever. Later on I'd blend successfully with the grey-faced, shuffling zombies crowded outside.  I just didn't need the make-up.

During Saturday we did some running around to get everyone and most of their tat from the Kings Arms down to the new squat in Broadmead.  At about 3pm I went to the nearby Bridewell police station and told them we'd squatted our new place and they were welcome to come and take a look for any criminal damage.  The duty sergeant wasn't bothered, he seemed pretty on the ball and just warned not to hold any parties, start fires, abstract electricity, damage the place, and so on.  All the usual stuff you'd expect.  He didn't feel any need at all to come and check the place out.

At about 8pm security from Cabot Circus turned up and tried to break in, cutting through the chain we'd wrapped around the front door.  Police turned up and - eventually - persuaded them to go away.  The Inspector we were talking to at that point was clear it was a civil matter.  However, we were staked out by police at front and back who wouldn't let anyone enter or leave.

I was so tired I went to sleep.  About 11pm the police stormed the building, smashing their way through firedoors on the ground floor.  Apparently this took 'em a while - the doors open outwards and were pretty solid - and made a huge amount of noise but I was dead to the world.  The first I knew about it was being woken by about 20 riot cops all milling around the floor I was on looking for the route up to the rest of the building.  I was swiftly arrested, cuffed behind my back, and marched off to a waiting van.

It all got chaotic, with cops, vans, possessions, police stations and no-one seeming to know what they were doing, why they were doing it, where they were going and so on.  For hours.  It took until four in the morning before I was finally in a police cell and - at last - could get some flipping sleep!

We were all arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and suspicion of abstracting electricity, bailed until 17 December.  We are highly unlikely to get charged, the police will almost certainly drop the matter.

It was an illegal eviction and we are considering our options and looking for a good civil rights solicitor to take it forward.

The police have taken our mobile phones and laptops so people are advised not to try and phone any of us.

Just the act of squatting a building apparently makes you a domestic extremist, allowing the police additional powers to take your stuff off you, stop you, search you and generally waste their time and yours.

Probably more to follow in due course!

No comments:

Post a Comment