good for bristol

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Elim Church illegally evicts and beats up homeless people

On New Years Eve we squatted a building on Jamaica Street owned by Elim Church.  Last Thursday they illegally - and violently - evicted us.

Two of us took the building on the corner of Jamaica Street and Hillside, just next to the Bell pub.  We got in through an open window on Jamaica Street although there was a second open window on Hillside as well. 

It's a great building with a mix of large workshop rooms downstairs and offices to live in upstairs.  From the outside it looks run-down but inside there's just a few roof leaks.  The water was off due to damaged pipes but we were on our way to fixing those, then we'd have had three flushing toilets!

We barricaded the building extensively.  Two people was too few though so we laid low, but it being New Year made it difficult to round up more to move in.  After four days living pretty much nocturnally we were going a bit loopy.  We should have had a bigger crew ready to move in and then I think we'd have been able to hold it.

We were going to stick up Section 6's and go public on Thursday, 4th January - personally I was bored shitless of not coming and going - but before we could a guy from the church, Steve, tried to get in to show some possible buyers round.  Although the building doesn't have a for sale sign it's on-line here: http://www.rightmove.co.uk/commercial-property-for-sale/property-39777074.html/svr/3104;jsessionid=32497DC84CF07B1BABB1AEC900184C58.

Steve was friendly enough when we told him he couldn't get in at the moment as the building was squatted.  We discussed negotiating access to the building for his buyers at a later date and explained we were interested in working with the church to use the building for community purposes.  I wanted to open a free bookshop, other people were interested in workshops making useful stuff from junk.

Shortly after Steve went back to his office Pastor Simon Foster turned up.  He's a nutter - a deeply unpleasant and very angry man.  Amidst his frothing rants we recorded him saying we'd be out by the weekend and threatening to have his 600 strong congregation descend on us.  He's Elim's regional manager.

Later that day - about 9pm - we had two people in the building.  I was out-and-about and received a call people were trying to get into the squat by drilling the locks.  I returned and slapped on their van parked out the front to draw them out.  A bloke came out and immediately attacked me, punching and kicking and finally throwing me to the ground shouting he was performing a citizens arrest.  This violent loon later claimed to be a member of the church congregation.  Quite what he thought he was doing beating up homeless people on the street I'm not sure. 

Both people jumped out of the squat to try and help me, however, leaving the building unoccupied.  And - as they dropped out of a first floor window - still totally barricaded and un-enterable without a ladder.

The police arrived and - after some faffing about - arrested me on a completely made up charge of criminal damage to the window we'd got in through.  The window right in front of the police officer completely undamaged.  The police were quite clear they were going to hold me until we allowed access to the building.  Myself I don't care, the charge was totally made up and they'd have had to release me fairly quickly, but the others decided to walk away and give up on the building.  I wasn't involved in the discussion what with being bustled into the back of the van.

Total farce at the end but the key points are Elim shouldn't be violently attacking homeless people - they're actually funded by Bristol Council to house homeless people and ex-offenders - and the police completely co-operated with an illegal eviction.

4 comments:

  1. You broke into their building, what makes you think you have the right to just move into a building that does not belong to you?
    You think being homeless gives you the right to steel?
    By that logic then being horney gives you the right to rape?
    Yes elim can support homeless people, but go and ask them instead of breaking into their building.

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  2. The reason why the building was being sold, was to purchase another one for community purposes. If you had intentions about using the building for community purposes, then surely the way to do this was to contact the church? You said that you wanted to fix water pipes to get toilets working, but according to the law, using the non-residential place's utilities is illegal according to the government website (https://www.gov.uk/squatting-law/squatting-in-nonresidential-properties). The church is not funded by council, this is Elim Housing (http://www.elimhousing.co.uk/bristol) which is not connected to the church.

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  3. I think you've got a damn cheek thinking you can take over a building that does not belong to you. Instead of worrying about keeping a look out so the rightful owners cant get into their building, get out looking for a job to pay your own way like the majority of the hard working people in Bristol.

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  4. I just read this. Well done to the church ‘community’ for standing up to squatting leaches who tried to take over ‘community’ property, with no real plan, but to benefit anyobe but themselves. Good on the church.

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