Leipzig. Germany. On Wednesday September 2, just two days before the Social Struggle Construction Site – Weekend of discussion and action started, cops evicted the Luwi 71 squat. In the days that followed the price of the eviction was getting higher and higher and it ain’t over yet. Tonight there will be another demo.
After the somewhat disillusioning eviction of the Syndikat in Berlin last month, people in Leipzig show that it is still possible to drive up the price of evictions. The actions around the eviction of the Syndicat in Berlin started with a strong demo on August 1. The eviction itself showed once again that the Syndicat was deeply anchored in the neighbourhood, many neighbours protested from their balconies with potts and pans. But from an antagonistic point of view the eviction went to smoothly for the cops and the political pressure from the streets wasn’t big enough to stop the coming wave of evictions in Berlin.
The Day X demo after the eviction in Berlin was a complete disaster. As I arrived at the starting point I was baffled. Although Berlin has enough squares wih wide and open streets around it, the demo started at a square with narrow streets. There are enough tourist areas in Berlin where cops need to consider their tactics because tourists don’t like to see their fantasy world destroyd by police violence. That said, it of course doesn’t mean that cops will not be violent in Tourist areas, but it makes it at least a bit more difficult for them. In the end the Day X demo in Berlin has put up a lot of frustration and questions. Of course things are different in Berlin. In Berlin you often have to deal with whole armies of cops, but still… I hope that the Liebig 34 action days will work out better.
In Leipzig things went differently this week. On Wednesday the Luwi 71 squat was evicted. For the day after, Thursday, a Day X +1 demo was called for, the demo was determined and the cops received a lot of bricks. Some barricades were erected and set on fire. For a short time Luwi 71 was also re-squatted (and than evicted again). On Friday a building at Bornaische Street 34 was squatted. The cops cleared the new squat after a few hours, and for that reason there was another spontaneous demo last night. A cop station was attacked and again there were stones for the cops and some burning barricades. Two cop cars crashed into each other under a shower of stones.
Leipzig is a city where antagonistic resistance continues to take place on a regular basis. No matter what the cops are doing there, they always have to expect determined resistance and they know that. That is not only important on a political level, but also psychologically. Leipzig shows not only that antagonistic resistance is still possible, but also that the investors who are destroying our cities into a thoroughly gentrified desert are vulnerable. They are everywhere and therefore have to expect interventions everywhere.
I do not want to say that it is easy to act more anatagonistically in other German cities. But it is possible and important. This is also shown by the constant resistance in projects like Rigaer street or the Stuttgart riots. In my opinion, the best possible solidary support would be to create as many such antagonistic resistance herds as possible.
“Out of the defensive” should not remain just a slogan, but should be implemented through practical interventions like in Leipzig or the demonstration in Berlin on August 1. If we manage to bring continuity in this, we would take a big step forward.
Tonight there will be another demo in Leipzig (starting point Hildebrand-Platz 08:00pm – 20:00), the price for the evictions is getting higher and higher.
You can take Luwi from us, but not our dreams
Yesterday on september 2nd the Luwi71 was evicted. At about six o’clock in the morning, cops started trying to enter the house. Thanks to strong barricades, this was not possible with the battering ram. Only chainsaws gave the state authorities access. After about three hours the police announced the end of the operation on Twitter. So the Luwi was empty again and dreams of non-commercial open spaces and cheap housing lay in ruins like the entrance door.
Thanks to the solidarity and vigilance of local residents and a dedicated surveillance system monitoring the movement of the cops in the neighbourhood, the people in the house were all able to flee from the police in time. Nevertheless, four people were picked up near the house and their identities were established. Three people were then temporarily taken to the Dimitroff guard. Two people on suspicion of trespassing. They are therefore accused of having been squatters. The third person because of an open arrest warrant, which is due to an unpaid fine for incorrectly affixing a dog tax stamp. After the money was paid, the third person could leave.
The other two were also able to leave the station around half past ten, but not before DNA was taken from them and their ears measured.
It has been shown that profits and capital are more important than the needs of city dwellers. Private property as the highest value of this system has won once again. Once again the state is unable to provide housing for all people. The needs of the people are secondary in this system.
One and a half weeks of occupation and an outstretched hand
On Friday, 21.08.2020, we occupied Ludwigstraße 71 and immediately sent our utilization concept to the city of Leipzig, some city council factions and the press and asked for negotiations. Unfortunately, neither the city council factions nor city offices replied to our mail at first. It was not until 22.08.2020 that we learned from an article in the Leipziger Volkszeitung that the owner had been identified and wanted to come to Leipzig on Wednesday, 26.08.2020, “to talk to the activists” . We organized rooms for this trial and contacted lawyers.
On Tuesday, August 25, 2020, the head of the Office for Housing and Urban Renewal visited us and informed us on behalf of the owner that the owner no longer wanted to conduct the talks on Wednesday and wanted to remain anonymous. However, communication with the owner could be done through the office. He offered himself as a “mediator” and “mailbox”. The head of the office also informed us that the owner was asking whether we could buy or rent the house. We did not reject any of the options, but expressed our interest, asked for a concrete amount of money and offered as a further alternative that we could also imagine a guardian house status. This shows that we wanted to make concrete financial arrangements with the owner, which again showed our commitment to negotiations to legalize the house project. We also wrote a letter to the owner, which we published . But our outstretched hand was knocked away. On August 28, 2020, an interview with the 56-year-old owner “Christoph R.” appeared in the Bild newspaper. (name changed by the Bild editorial staff) under the title “Building in Leipzig occupied – Chaotic people won’t let me into my house” .
Kaya von Leipzig Besetzen commented: “In the course of this act of civil disobedience, there was no escalation on our part – on the contrary, symbolized by a first neighbors’ meeting on Sunday, August 23, 2020 and a second one scheduled for Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. And yet the Bild has deemed it necessary to call us ‘chaotic’. We regard this form of ‘journalism’ as chaotic. Mr. R. could also have contacted us at any time. We even encouraged him to do so several times. This action was never aimed at threats or violence, but at creating awareness of grievances and the need for cultural freedom and affordable housing. Houses must not be used as second homes and old-age shelters as long as others are in need of housing”. The second spokesperson Sasha adds: “This black-and-white thinking and discrediting of protest is typical of the Springer Group. The statement ‘A capitalist buys houses in the East and leaves them to rot, even though housing is urgently needed’  is shortened and has nothing to do with our views. It merely fulfills long since worn out East-West clichés. The Bild newspaper is once again split. Moreover, the housing situation is catastrophic throughout the entire Federal Republic, not only in the East”.
With its defamation of protest, the article is in the tradition of the Bild. What we could read exactly from the article, however, was that the owner is not a “freelancer”, but a company owner and investor. In addition, the disclosed information about the owner and the photograph allowed us to research the real name of the owner and his company. We now knew who ‘Christoph R.’ was and finally had the opportunity to send him an email directly instead of having to communicate via press releases or the AWS. We sat at this mail the last night before the eviction in order to offer direct negotiations and make concrete proposals.
Yesterday, Wednesday, the escalation which was provoked up by the owner.
The legacy of the Luwi
Nevertheless, we consider the occupation of Luwi71 a success.
The occupation was able to last for one and a half weeks, received nationwide media attention and reignited the discourse on housing, rising rents and the question of ownership. There were several hours of joint work in and in front of the building. There were political lectures and discussions, on most days people’s kitchen, singer-songwriters and punk bands played, we talked to the residents about their needs and wishes during the neighbours’ Meeting on august 23 and showed that we were serious.
At this point we would like to thank all the residents and supporters who provided us with food, tools and water. To the people who cooked, sang and talked in front of the house or simply showed by their presence that we are not alone and that Luwi met with sympathy. Big thanks!
A second neighbours meeting was planned for Wednesday evening, followed by a first open Luwi plenary session for all people who would have been interested in using the Luwi despite its illegal status and the lack of electricity, water, gas. Today, Thursday, we had planned to officially hand over the Luwi to the new Luwi-Plenum. We have done a lot of preparatory work for this. The rubbish, rubble and dust that had accumulated in the house over the past two decades was completely removed by us from the upper floors and moved to two “rubble rooms” on the ground floor. Ready to be picked up by container in case of legalisation. We had prepared our own report on the building fabric, the condition of the house and any defects. We have made a toilet drain again, which could be operated with water canisters.
Now all this has been taken away from us and the neighbourhood and potential users and the Luwi will probably remain empty until it is worthwhile for the owner to sell the house at a profit or the Luwi will be occupied again.
About the publication of the owner’s name
On Wednesday morning, while the Luwi was still being evicted, we decided to break the anonymity of the owner Udo Heng and publish the name of his company.
It would be a lie if we didn’t mention that anger about what happened played a role in this. But the reasons are more complex. For one thing, we don’t want to play the owner’s game of hide-and-seek and lies any longer. Not only did Udo Heng refuse to negotiate, but in the aforementioned Bild interview he also staged himself as the “sufferer of the mess”, as an artist and sustainable company owner who is robbed of his retirement provisions . This is simply not the case, as we wrote above.
However, there was criticism of our approach. Criticism that we do not simply want to dismiss, but will include in our reflection process. So much for the moment:
No, the owner of the Luwi71 is not our enemy. The capitalist system, which creates structures in which there are investors like Udo Heng, people who can hardly afford their rent anymore and who are displaced, as well as us squatters who try to do something about it, is the problem in itself. Criticism of capitalism that shoots itself at individuals is shortened and is not represented by us. That is why we call on everyone to remain calm and not to commit any acts of aggression.
But it is also not Heng’s home address that we have published, but his and the name of his company “Reeds ‘n Stuff”, whose address is then quite easy to research. We don’t have many options left to take action against investors like Heng, as our property collectivisations are regularly smashed by the state and its henchmen. So the only thing left for us to do is to hit him where it might still hurt him most – the image of his company and possibly financial losses if word gets around that although his oboe might be sustainable, his investments are not.
The only one who unleashed an aggressive mob of 60 people in combat gear on sleeping people in and in front of the house on Wednesday morning is Heng himself.
Taking the anger to the streets
However, there is still a way of expressing one’s own anger and resentment about the eviction of the Luwi71, excessive rents, crowding out and the protection of investor interests by the state and the capitalist system. Today at Day X+1 demo, not far from Luwi 71, there is room for this. We meet 21h in front of the Aldi at the Rabet.
Come in large numbers. Organise yourselves into affinity groups. Show solidarity and take care of each other.
We are in solidarity with every action that supports us. Think about forms of action and goals. In short: be creative yourself! All permitted forms of resistance against capitalism and all emancipatory achievements have always been fought for in a rule-breaking way. We will therefore continue to break laws and occupy vacant properties. There are all kinds of empty houses on and around Eisenbahnstraße. We will simply continue to occupy. But the next buildings will be better defended. If they won’t give us the houses, we’ll just take them. We also hope that you will follow our example and follow your ideas of squatting that have probably been buzzing around in your heads for a long time. We support all squatters we hear about and spread the news through our information channels. Squat houses, stop evictions and organise rent strike! So be ready, listen around and keep moving. Houses for those who live in them!
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