Amsterdam. Netherlands. Last Sunday we were evicted from our home after having been there for 5 days. Here are some reflections on what happened.
Originally published by Indymedia NL.
We had a small taste of what could have been when we made Waldeck Pyrmontlaan 8 in Amsterdam our home. Even though the last few days have been hard on us, there were many moments filled with joy and hope. The support and acts of solidarity we received from old and new friends, comrades and neighbours have deeply touched us. After 5 days of occupation and what we thought was a successful public revealing of the squat, we were quickly reminded of what should’ve been so obvious to us; that there is no safety for people like us living under the state and it’s capitalist system. All evictions are a form of violence and Sunday was no exception. We have yet to hear all the stories and experiences surrounding the eviction, and we are only representing our own experiences here.
Who we are
We are people with political convictions, with a longing for freedom. Our struggle and our wounds are written and felt in our bodies. We are individuals with hopes and dreams, worries and problems. We squat for many reasons, both political and personal. Out of necessity, because we need housing, but also because in these acts of collective resistance, we create the space to feel free and find each other. Most of us are students at different universities, MBO’s or highschool in Amsterdam and around. Others with us are not in university at all- but would have liked to be- if it wasn’t for the prospect of crippling debt and the financial pressure to go straight into work. Like that of many people, our lives have been defined and shaped by precarity. Our housing situation is precarious. Some of us sleep on couches, in shelters, hostels or squats. Others have rental contracts ( mostly temporary- almost all overpriced). Student life is often described as the time of your life- But it is hard to be alive when you are struggling to survive.
We also go to school to emancipate ourselves through learning, but the current situation makes it impossible to learn beyond the curriculum set by the schools. For many, universities are seen as the great equaliser, a way to get over the unfortunate circumstances you are born into, and it does work sometimes,- but most are left working precarious jobs even after they finish their degrees- just with more debt. We don’t start at an equal footing and socio-economic class intersects with other identity factors making it even harder for some to succeed. We are tired of being ashamed of our financial situation. We are not less intelligent because of it. For those out there who are in a similar position, get in touch, or set up your own assemblies. You’d be surprised how many people are in the same situation. You are not alone, we can support each other. It is when we come together that we can better our situation.
On the illegal eviction
We don’t believe in justice under this racist, patriarchal, capitalist system. We don’t recognise the validity of its laws, courts or authority. Nobody needs more than the house they live in. All property is theft and everyone that needs a home should take it from those that have multiple houses ( especially when they are not using them) Still, it seems worth mentioning that this was an illegal eviction. We are not surprised when those in power break their own laws; we quickly learned to expect it. We had been in the building already for 4 days and had made it our home, we provided the cops with evidence of this, see here: https://mobile.twitter.com/jb157hfjdux. Initially, when the cops showed up (pretty soon after we dropped some banners), they said they would respect our house peace (“huisvrede”) and told us everything looked okay when we handed them the evidence. Only to come back in the evening the next day. First 4 cops passed by to ask us “how many of you are inside, we need to know how many riot vans to send”. When asked what the reason was for the eviction we were met with a “you know” and “because we can”, followed by laughter. That Sunday we had invited people over to come help support and clean up the place. Many people came and spend hours with us cleaning pigeon shit, donating furniture and generally working on making the places even more homely. Although we kept the possibility in the backs of our minds, we did not expect the police would proceed with a speed eviction on this day – maybe naively so. This led to panic and distress with the people inside at the moment the cops showed up that were not aware of the reality of squatting. Our friends, comrades and sympathetic neighbours were beaten and dragged away by riot cops. The police came with the special unit to evict buildings, the BraTra (Brand en Traangas Eenheid). Inside the building the BraTra and ME choose to act in a way that put peoples lives in danger. The BraTra being the tools of monopolised violence they are, proceeded to use a chainsaw to cut out a part of our floor. Whilst not being warned we saw the tip of the blade penetrate trough the floor, close to cutting someone’s foot. We were lucky to notice this and could pull the person away. This action by the BraTra could have resulted in us falling trough the floor or the floor to come down. After this attempt failed they proceeded cutting the supports of the blocked stairs, putting everyone in danger. When the BraTra eventually did manage to get up we were in a corner of the room. We realised we had to succumb to their force and we told them we would cooperate. At that moment one particularly ugly and angry looking pig thought it was necessary to pick up a metal pipe and hit our femme comrade on her back with it while also kneeling on her back and neck. We are not surprised but are disgusted by the acts of the police to evict this building (with brute force) for the benefit of capitalist oppressors. Our experiences are of course in no way exceptional, many have experienced much worse. The institution of the police is inherently racist, sexist, ableist and classist. The law doesn’t work for us and as they have proven again and again, cops are there to protect private property not people. Fuck the law, squat the world.
Fuck your basement swimming pool
We were told by several neighbours that the reason the building has been empty so long is because the owner is trying to but failed to get a permit to built a swimming pool in his basement. This goes without saying, but we don’t give a shit about your basement swimming pool. Where you see a swimming pool we see a place that can house more than 30 people.
Why we squatted Waldeck Pyrmontlaan 8: reversed gentrification now.
We hanged a banner from the squat stating : niet wijken voor de rijken (don’t make space for the rich). We didn’t come to this neighbourhood to make friends with the rich, we came to agitate. The Vondelbuurt is one of the richest neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. Vondelpark was built for the rich, but we believe we deserve nice parks too. we didn’t expect neighbours to be sympathetic, eventhough some were. Others were not. When the rich got air of our presence, they stuck up their noses and moved their expensive cars away. They pulled their children from their windows and called the cops. It brings us joy to know that we make them feel unsafe. We propose a project of reverse gentrification: They push us out of our neighbourhoods, we take over theirs. Make the rich feel afraid again. On an unrelated note, the social peace can be broken as easily as the law. Anyone can take action to disturb the sleep of those that oppress us.
We are told that we should respect private property (‘je moet gewoon met je tengels van andermans spullen afblijven’)like it is some kind of natural given, but what has that ever done to benefit us? Change doesn’t come when we ask for it nicely, we have to fight for it. When we squat we reclaim our unpaid wages. We make use of a space that someone clearly doesn’t need. It is only called theft when it benefits the poor, if the rich steal they call it profit, inheritance, rent, etc. This neighbourhood is a nest of old money, why would they deserve to live alone in these huge houses while it is the working class that created the luxury’s they use.
On the lies of AT5, why we choose to represent ourselves
In the words of the journalist student that came to the squat on Sunday: “my only way to get involved and ask questions was to […] start mopping the floor.” Our lives are not study objects. Journalistic objectivity is a farce. When a journalist from AT5 came by and asked us if we wanted to do an interview we told her where she could find our statement. She told us that surely we wanted to speak to her and “get our point across”. Failing to notice that ‘our point’ was right in front of her. The beautiful thing about direct action is that you do not make any demands from politicians or the state, you are not ‘raising awareness’ instead you tackle the problem directly. Squatting and making use of the place is the point. Later, during the eviction, at5 was there again asking people to do an interview. One of us outside did offer to speak to them. A person who was born in the Netherlands and speaks fluent Dutch, was then told by At5 they didn’t want to speak to them (probably because they were not white or posh enough) because At5 was “looking for someone who has a better comprehension of the Dutch language.” We represent ourselves, we don’t owe you shit, we speak to the people we want to speak to- who understand and can relate to our struggle. We let our actions speak for us, and suggest you do the same. We want a free world, not an article on your website. Our struggle for housing is not your next edgy art project. Our violent eviction is not a spectacle to live stream. For those that are sympathetic, get your hands dirty, get involved. Understand that our struggle for freedom is linked to yours- if you cannot see this, if you are looking for objectivity in a world that is not equal, we have nothing to say to you. We are tired of explaining to those that return to the comfort of their beautiful houses every night- why we do what we do. AT5 did not speak to those that lived around that showed their support. Those brought us food and put their bodies on the line to stop the evictions.
Flinta ( FEM, intersex, non-binary, trans, agender) people have always be on the front line.
This action was mostly organised and done by Flinta people, those at the front line were young people and flinta people. We have always been on the frontline fighting for our own liberation. We fight back because safety was never an option we could pick. We know what it means not to be safe. Not to be able to leave an abusive family, parent, partner, situation.. simply because we couldn’t (financially) afford to do so. Young, queer and flinta people were there on the front line, risking their feet against chainsaws.
Why we need to resist evictions / create a culture of resistance
Our evictions are not spectacles. Our barricades are not gestures. We do not squat because it is legally possible, we squat because there is a material need for housing. No matter how many times they evict us, as long as our need for housing is not solved we are forced to continue fighting for our own solutions. We need to create a culture of resisting evictions. Every time a place is evicted 3 new buildings must be opened in its place. Every evictions should be met with a demonstration through the streets, involving the neighbours who support our actions. We invite those, who nostalgically brag about the heydays of squatting, to get out of their legalised places and into the streets. To share their knowledge and skills. This is not the time to talk about free spaces and counter culture, this is the time for a broader anti-capitalist housing struggle in which squatting can play an important role. Get involved, share you knowledge.
You’ll hear from us again; we’ll continue to be a pain in the ass.