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The Hague: Short Stay? No Way! First week occupation summary

The Hague. Netherlands. Here is a little recap of what happened in the first week of our campaign and occupation of the Waldeck Pyrmontkade 872 in The Hague. The aim is to create an overview of what we’ve done and why, and list our victories as well as the things we want to work on in the future.

Originally published by Short Stay? No Way!

Friday 1st of May
The first steps are made in the squatting of the building. There couldn’t be a better day!

Monday 4th of May
Before we could start our struggle against the building of Short Stay apartments it was necessary for us to occupy and keep the building on the Waldeck Pyrmontkade successfully. Preparations were made to prevent an immediate eviction by the police, as is often the case in The Hague, and a possible reaction on part of the owner.
At 9a.m. some sympathizers, with whom we had discussed the strategy beforehand, called the neighbourhood cop in our name, to inform them of our occupation. Faced with the impossibility to reach the neighbourhood cop we decided to postpone the announcement to the next day.

Tuesday 5th of May – Liberated!
At 9a.m. we called the neighbourhood cop again. This time around we managed to reach him. Since he was working from home, we set an appointment to the next day so he could officially acknowledge our housing rights and take note of the squatting action. Having announced our occupation to the police, we also informed the owner via mail, at 9.43 a.m. and immediately received an automatic notification that the e-mail had been received. We were confident that our first step had been solidified, there would be no turning back from this point on.

Wednesday 6th of May
We woke up in a productive mood, cleaned up and fixed the building to our needs. The neighbourhood cop came buy for a coffee on the street, joked with some neighbours and told us he would get in touch with the owners. After having done so, he informed us the owners were not amused. We spent the afternoon and evening in a series of meetings to discuss the specifics of our following step; to spread information about our action, the reasoning behind it and what we are struggling against and most of all for. We would drop a huge banner from the building, letting everyone know we had occupied it and expressing our opposition to the gentrifying plans of the owner. Next to the banner our press release would be sent to all possibly interested, the press, activist groups, local political parties, etc. and widely spread on social media.

Thursday 7th of May
Thursday was meant to be a day of preparation for our big day on Friday. Unfortunately, it was disrupted by the arrival of two people claiming to be contractors for the owner. They arrived in a 50.000€ car, wearing designer clothes and sunglasses and announcing that they wanted to start preparations for the demolition of the building. As they were putting up the fences, some supportive neighbours called them out in solidarity with our action. They told them, and rightfully so, that they were not welcome in The Hague to continue the gentrification they had already infested Amsterdam with. Following this, many other sympathisers from the neighbourhood showed up and denounced the owner’s actions and urged them to leave, occasionally grabbing on to the fences the contractors were trying to place around the building. The contractors threatened to come back the next day and told us they’d be starting the demolition whether we had left or not. With that, the owner’s contractors left, and returned to Amsterdam. Their attempt at intimidation failed in the face of our solidarity, leaving us and the neighbours cheering in victory.
Having the support of the neighbourhood left us all the more confidant to start our campaign in the early morning of the next day. The news of the occupation and the specific intention of it had also already spread widely in squatter circles in The Hague, and preparations were being made to prevent any eviction attempt by the owner.

Friday 8th of May
At 9.55 a.m. the owner’s contractors come to fulfill his threat. Having heard of yesterday’s events, people mobilized in disapproval of the owner’s actions. The owner’s contractors were by far outnumbered by the amount of people supporting the campaign from the streets and the balconies, about 15 to 1. Simultaneously the people inside dropped a 7-meter long banner, catching the owner by surprise while leaving the sympathisers cheering in the streets. These consecutive successes were crowned by the owner’s contractors giving in, and once again leaving the scene, overwhelmed.
Before they left we gave them our phone number (not a personal one) out of good will because they claimed to be willing to “open a discussion on resolving the situation and therefore the housing crisis” (their words, not ours). As soon as night began to fall, a representative of the owner showed up creating a ruckus by shouting at us from the street. They claimed to be the lawyer of the company, and announced they were going to smash our windows. After attempting to engage with them in dialogue, they started claiming to be the owner, and then left in rage while screaming typical slurs against squatters, the same that have been used for generations (Why don’t you just get a job? Go and live with your parents! This is my property! Junkies!).
From the hectic press room we managed to send our press release to numerous press outlets as well as to local political parties. On the day itself, we received two requests for interviews, some more in the following days. We also got shows of support by some political parties and local politicians. Most importantly, other groups involved in anti-gentrification and anti-capitalism latched on to the news and the struggle, immediately recognising it. By doing this we aim to create a public debate on the housing crisis and the role of investment funds in the sell-out of the city and also actively propose a more social city. This being only the start of our campaign.

Weekend
Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to caring for all the things we had not been able to do in the rush of the last few days. We answered emails, worked on our twitter account, started making our living spaces more comfortable. Many rooms in the building were converted to spaces to be used for the campaign, ironically producing an office-like feeling.

Monday 11th of May
By Monday the first phase of our actions were fully consolidated: the building had been occupied and successfully held, our statement had been received well by sympathisers, neighbours and the press. We met all day to prepare the series of actions to follow. We’re only getting started! Keep up to date through shortstaynoway.nl and indymedia.
Big ups to all those who showed solidarity with us this week, showed up when we needed them, cooked with us, helped us fix stuff in the house, were willing to talk to the press, cops and owners with us… Know that this is only the start of our campaign. From here on out we will put pressure and act on the establishment for fair housing for everyone and the redistribution of wealth. We want change and we want it now!

Make sure to tell your friends, your neighbours and family!

Follow us online for the latest information and spread the word!
Soon the poster will be downloadable on our website. Print them out and share them in your local grocery store, bookstore, café, in the streets or on your own window.

Together we can stop the devastating rampage of capitalism; together we can stop the sell-out of cities! We don’t want to succumb to capitalism, that’s why capitalism should succumb to us!

Waldeck Pyrmontkade 872: About the owners, gentrification and resistance (From Squat Net)

Since we have informed the owners that we are squatting the building at Waldeck Pyrmontkade 872 in The Hague, they have showed up numerous times to threaten us.

At first they came to lock us in, pretending to have a permit to install scaffolding on the pavement. They neither were in possession of such a permit, nor would they be allowed to use it in any case since we are living in this house. They left after threatening us that they would come back the next day at 10 a.m. to start destroying the building and that we’d better be gone: they’d start whether we were still in there or not.

And they did arrive the next day, as announced. After all their big talk and muscle flexing they resorted to a somewhat anti-climactic action… calling the cops. As the squatting action had already been recognized by the police a couple of days earlier, the two slightly irritated officers simply said “no” when the owner’s workers asked them to evict the building on the spot. The cops then left, leaving the owner and his two contractors in the street with a group of 20+ people who had come to show solidarity with the occupation and prevent harassment from the owner.

The owner’s tone changed slightly, having realized the occupants had no intention of leaving. During the day they pretended to want and open a dialogue about the housing crisis. As soon as night began to fall they nevertheless sent people over to warn us they intended to smash the windows if we refused to leave. Their mood swings, from day to night, are representative of the discrepancies between the image they try to uphold and the consequences of their careless actions.

They present themselves as young, innovative and socially conscious venture capitalists. They invest in their appearance so as to cover up the fact that underneath this façade they are treading in the footsteps of their indecent predecessors. Let us remember that these are people who actively contribute to the growing housing crisis, dispossessing people of their homes in order to build for the rich.

They state on their website:
“As children of the crisis, we saw an enormous amount of empty offices in 2008. Buildings that did not fit the demand. […] We decided that we wanted to change the real estate world through a radically different approach.”

Their solution is to buy these empty office buildings and build luxury apartments? Because they will fit the demand? When in fact they will create a demand for a superfluous product. They are indeed the children of the crisis, they are the products of late capitalism’s capacity to commodify the uncommodifiable: when gambling with houses is not profitable enough anymore, even sub-components of the building become objects to make profit off. And so they are proudly taking part in ‘leasing gevels’, a weird financial and odd legal construction allowing them to lease the façade of the building.

They are rich youngsters throwing a tantrum upon realizing they have not only been called out on their revolting business practices, but have also been actively blocked in pursuing them.

We are not fighting against them, in fact we do not care much about them. They are a symbol of what is wrong in the housing market, how the rich are hogging the space and caring only for their own. And it is as such that we are targeting them. When they would want us to jubilate at the thought of luxury short-stay apartments, we say: Short Stay? No way! We want houses for people, not for profit. We want stable and affordable housing for everyone, we want people to have a say in the organization of their living spaces and their lives, we want people to have a say in the changes in their neighborhood and their city.

Faced with the power of the people, the power of money is worthless. Let’s change the tide and shut down capitalism!

Short Stay? No Way!
short_stay_no_way [at] riseup [dot] net
https://shortstaynoway.noblogs.org/


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