Amsterdam. Netherlands. September 12. 2021. Today there was an attempt to squat the premises at Gravenstraat 26-28 on the day of the housing protests. Thousands of people took the streets to demonstrate against the so-called housing crisis – the scarcity and exploitation on the housing market, the shortage of affordable housing and the disproportionate increase in rents.
Image above: Demonstration against housing crisis in Amsterdam on September 12, 2021.
The police used excessive force to beat us away from the place that was to become our new home. From the moment we arrived at the demonstration, certain activists were excessively monitored by the police and even arrested for wearing an anti-Nazi symbol. From the beginning, the police were out to suppress and catch activists. Police brutality escalated as soon as we arrived at Dam Square. We were beaten up, dragged out of the crowd by plain clothes policemen and some of us were even beaten to the ground and run over by policemen until we were bleeding. The police deliberately chose to escalate and we even heard them say that they deliberately “went full on”.
Squatting IS housing protest and we were active participants in the demonstration today. The false statement put out into the world by the police that we are disconnected from the main group of protesters is ridiculous. The protest stood for the same values as we do. Squatting has traditionally been one of the most important, if not the most important, part of addressing the housing crisis. Housing is a basic necessity to live and if it is not provided by the state and society, then we will take it. Today the police and the state showed that they don’t give a fuck about affordable and good housing but would rather arrest and beat people up.
We live in a city where every house is needed. Instead, speculators like Rogier Thewassen are allowed to let houses rot instead of letting people live in them. We believe that squatting is a more than legitimate way to fight the housing crisis. On the very day of the housing protest, we must take matters into our own hands. Housing is a basic necessity of life and should be available to everyone. And if we don’t get it, we’ll take it!
The properties on Gravenstraat are owned by speculator Rogier Thewassen who is CEO of temporary employment agency Young Capital and owns 116 properties. The houses have been empty for more than two years and are boarded up. We find it unacceptable that houses are empty while we are homeless and looking for affordable housing. We are being arrested and beaten away while speculators like Rogier Thewassen get away with their dirty speculation games.
Green Left Mayor Femke Halsema systematically chooses the side of the speculator and has had countless buildings evicted for vacancy in recent years. Meanwhile, property owners are hardly dealt with and can continue to speculate by offering precarious contracts, in addition to the Law on Squatting and Vacancy, through profitable companies that provide so-called ‘vacancy management’. These contracts are stripped of all rental rights. Policies such as “Good Landlordism” are therefore a wash. Today it has once again been proven that the municipality of Amsterdam always sides with the speculators and uses its repressive police apparatus to prevent us from finding a new home.
But housing shortages breaks rules! Squatting will continue. Squatting will continue because otherwise young people and other people looking for housing will become even more of a playground for property owners, housing corporations and anti-squatting agencies. Squatting will continue because you have to take a right when you don’t get it. Squatting continues because property is not a basic necessity of life, but a roof over your head is. Against speculators, policy makers and wolves in sheep’s clothing the message must always be clear: if we don’t get it, we take it! Squatting will continue!