In Austerity, London’s Police Are Making Families Homeless

Search form

In Austerity, London’s Police Are Making Families Homeless

In Austerity, London’s Police Are Making Families Homeless
Fri, 3/1/2013 - by Steve Rushton

 

"Save our Homes: Haringey" is a fast growing campaign to resist the Metropolitan Police throwing a community of 21 families out into the street.

Within two weeks of its first public meeting, it held its first protest last weekend outside the Met Police Headquarters, New Scotland Yard, which wants to sell the land where the families live to developers. The campaign needs to move fast: the residents have been served papers and bailiffs intend to remove the first residents on March 11.

Twenty-one families currently live at Connaught Gardens, North London. Some of the residents have lived here for over 20 years. When they first moved in, they were told it would be a "home for life" by the Housing Association. Several years ago, without explanation, they were told they had to sign new tenancy deals that effectively meant the land could be given back to its original owners: the Met Police.

Recently, the locals wrote a statement before taking to the streets: “We have lived here for over 20 years," they said. "The Met Police will be ripping the heart out of this community, as the families are due to be evicted in two weeks time.”

Michelle Mattocks, who lives in Connaught Gardens, commented: “I am outraged by the way we’re being treated. We’re North Londoners – we deserve to keep our community.” Another resident, Caroline Gallagher urged, “I want to fight: it’s unreasonable to be pushed out.”

I asked Joan, another resident, to explain the effect of being thrown out of a house. “The whole thing is absolutely frightening – to lose your home [is] terrifying," she said. "I’ve just lost a loved one and now I am being kicked out. They are splitting our community apart, and for what: financial gain and playing with people’s lives."

Alongside the residents, last weekend's protest garnered support from Occupy supporters, Haringey Solidarity Group and other activists, creating an opportunity to do outreach among local residents and brainstorm resistance strategies, skills and experiences.

These 21 families' plight – at the hands of the police who want to sell the land to developers – represents a microcosm of what’s happening across Britain: people's rights, and lives, being trampled for corporate gain.

With austerity cuts, the Met force faces a short-fall in funding of £500 million. This is part of the nationwide cuts, austerity and privatization that the government justifies due to the country’s debts. However, government seldom mentions how these debts have been caused mainly by the banker bailouts and corporate tax evasion that have cost Britain over a trillion pounds in lost revenue.

These evictions are part of a wider government-led assault on peoples’ rights to housing. Conservative MP Mike Weatherley is one person leading the charge against squatters, with recent research showing he his financial backing by property tycoons.

Then there is the new bedroom tax, which is described as the Cameron government’s equivalent of Thatcher’s poll tax in the way that it targets low-income families. As the independent charity group Empty Homes reports, some 710,000 homes in Britain are currently sitting empty.

A new squatted community center in Elephant and Castle, called Self Organised London (SOL), is an autonomous zone dedicated to anti-gentrification, equal rights and protesting against government cuts. It has invited the residents from "Save our Homes: Haringey" to speak about their experiences.

But the pressing question now is: how long will these same residents have a roof over their heads? And, if acts of "austerity" like this are permitted to continue, whose homes will the London police be seizing - and selling - next?

Article Tabs

The coalition was set to deliver more than 200,000 signatures to the White House, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, calling for transparency and justice in police killings.

Divestment is less about denying fossil fuel companies the financial resources to operate – it's more about denying them reputation, legitimacy and “social license.”

Americans greatly underestimate the degree of inequality in our country – and if we were given proper media coverage of the endless takeaway of wealth by the super rich, we'd be taking it personally.

Wealthy people are often so isolated from the rest of us, many of them have forgotten how rich they really are.

Two political philosophers, Sheldon Wolin and John Ralson Saul, call for mass movements willing to carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience to disrupt and delegitimize corporate power.

Florida has the highest foreclosure rate in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2014, and also has a "foreclosure king" who is now disbarred for his failure to oversee employees accused of carrying out wrongful foreclosures.

Posted 4 days 15 hours ago

This isn't just a right to revolt, it's a call to revolt, an outright slam against apathy and nonresistance.

Posted 3 days 13 hours ago

"Peoples' movements will either succeed in transforming our economic and political systems to build a new world, or we will burn with the old one."

Posted 4 days 14 hours ago

On Sunday, hundreds of people milled around a protest site in the gentrifying, densely-populated district Mong Kok, manning aid stations and sitting in small circles on the pavement.

Posted 4 days 14 hours ago

The city's social justice roots are centuries old – and today Seattle is also home to more than 70 social justice organizations and more than a dozen progressive film festivals.

Posted 2 days 15 hours ago

On Sunday, hundreds of people milled around a protest site in the gentrifying, densely-populated district Mong Kok, manning aid stations and sitting in small circles on the pavement.

Edward Snowden

Snowden told the audience he engaged in civil disobedience because he believes the democratic system of government is not able to work when people don’t know what their government is doing.

The California city of Rialto saw an 88% drop in claims of police misconduct within one year of officers wearing cameras.

Divestment is less about denying fossil fuel companies the financial resources to operate – it's more about denying them reputation, legitimacy and “social license.”

Some critics say that the "militarization of the police" is happening right in front of our eyes – but if the Founding Fathers were so worried about a threat of domestic tyranny, how did we get here?

Sign Up