Today we had a meeting to which all residents of the Aylesbury Estate were invited, to discuss the estate’s immediate practical problems, the council’s demolition plans and how we can organise to combat both.
We heard from leaseholders still living behind the prison-like fences of the phase one demolition area. We head from tenants in the phase two demolition area who area confused about if and how they are supposed to find other places to go.
Everyone had complaints about council neglect, particularly the council’s refusal to fix leaks. They pointed out that this is the result of the council sub-contracting repair work to private companies in whose interest it is not to complete work. Others described it as an intentional strategy to damage the estate and persuade residents it needs demolishing.
We also heard about the broader movement to destroy London’s council housing and the struggles against it (poster series). Aylesbury is one of eighty estates that will be demolished over the next decade and rebuilt to be sold and rented on the open market, and – as one resident pointed out – kept as an investment, not even to be lived in!
Together we decided to compile a dossier of council neglect, to do some repair work ourselves, and to continue with our stalls and petition against demolition. Other things, of course, we won’t write about here…
The next meeting for all residents will be in October.
During our occupation of the Aylesbury Estate we were generally quite good at avoiding the police. A hundred riot cops failed to end the occupation in February and, at the beginning of April, we tore down the fence around the demolition zone before they even got into their gear. But some of us were arrested. We were charged with criminal trespass, with assault and with criminal damage. People everywhere always need to defend themselves against police attacks, and acts of solidarity against the police have become the particular focus of events in South London recently.
During ‘Reclaim Brixton’ protesters blocked the roads, danced in the street and stormed the town hall and police station. They smashed the windows of Foxtons and of Barnardos – the charity which runs the government’s detention centre for migrant children. They fought with riot police when they tried to make arrests. Then, in East Street on 21 June, a crowd blockaded an immigration raid and fought the riot cops who came to support it. They attempting to free the person who was detained. They let down the tires of the vans and broke their windows, pelted them with eggs, vegetables, bricks and whatever they found on the street. The Home Office got their prisoner in the end, but there is no way they can fight solidarity of this intensity every time they want to catch one person.
Other acts of solidarity followed. People were charged with criminal damage and ‘violent disorder’ over what happened in Brixton and East Street and the police have let it be known that they are still looking for others. After the arrests on East Street there was a protest during which Walworth police station was covered with banners, its waiting room was taken over with a sound system and dancing and with dumped rubbish. The party let the arrested know they were not alone. And it showed the police their repression would not go unchallenged.
People also continued to go back to East Street to distribute posters and flyers about immigration raids and police repression. They shared legal information and talked with people, celebrating what happened and affirming the need to keep fighting. On East Street people are building the connections to defend each other even more effectively.
Any struggle which really confronts violence and impoverishment will have to defend itself against the police. So we need all these kinds of solidarity. We need solidarity that responds immediately in a moment of attack, solidarity that is the ability to prevent arrests from even taking place. We need messages of solidarity that let people know they will be supported if they get arrested and that deter the police who know we will fight back. And we need solidarity that is the connections between people, the preparedness to give and take support, which allows us to grow stronger.
June 21, 2015
Home Office immigration enforcement have been targeting the East Street market in Walworth, London SE17, all week, with no less than five raids over previous days. Today they came again at 5PM and snatched one man from a fish shop, presumably accused of working without legal documents.
But this time, things were not going to go so easy for the thugs in blue. After call-outs went out through the local grapevine and also on social media, people from the area including the next door Aylesbury Estate rushed down to the scene. The Home Office snatch van was blockaded and penned in on a side street off the market. The bullies retreated inside the van with their prisoner while it was surrounded by people’s bodies and by makeshift barricades, the tires were let down, and it was pelted with rotten fruit and eggs from the market.
The Home Office thugs called in police reinforcements. They arrived with six cars of cops, plus dog vans and plainclothes cops, and a helicopter circling overhead, as the street was cordoned off. However, the crowd kept on growing as more people from the estate and nearby streets joined in, local teenagers called up their mates, others arrived seeing it on social media.
The stand off continued for over an hour, the local police clueless about what to do next. Then three vans of TSG riot cops arrived, tooled up in full body armour. The TSG pushed through, escorting the Home Office van limping out on deflated tires. They came under sustained attack as new barricades of street furniture kept getting thrown up to stop their progress and hails of rocks, bottles, road cones, etc., kept them at bay. At least one TSG cop was knocked to the floor, a riot van windscreen and other windows broken.
In the end, they managed to get their prisoner out, and also took one more arrested from the resisters. After the immigration van had got out the crowd kept blocking the TSG vans with commercial rubbish bins and other barriers to continue the fighting. Eventually, visibly shaken by the angry mob,the TSG managed to escape. After giving them a rowdy send-off, the crowd danced to a mobile sound system.
This was concerted angry action which brought together local teenagers, Aylesbury Estate residents, anarchists, and whoever was in the street and not going to take this shit lying down. If we could meet more raids with resistance like this it would seriously screw up the system of repression. This is the response we want to be growing on our streets, every day of the week.
A select list of Direct Action regarding housing:
Every Friday we are having a stall and going for a little march after. Come down to East Street 2-5 pm this week (12 June)!
On Wednesday (3 June) we are visiting the AJ120 architects awards at which the architects who are involved in the ‘regeneration’/gentrification of Aylesbury are being nominated for the award of collaboration of the year!? We will meet in the Tower of London Park on north side of the tower at 6pm.
Then on Friday (5 June) we will be demonstrating around the estate itself. We’ll have a stall somewhere around East Street Market from 2pm. If all goes well, we might go on a little march about about 5pm… The forecast is for hot weather and we plan to have some fun!