Monday, July 5, 2010

notes on the european squat meeting (17-20 june 2010), Barcelona


Translation of an article written in French and originally published on squat.net/fr  and I founded it at Act For Freedom Now! blog..

From June 17th to 20th, 2010, an European squat meeting took place in Barcelona... People participating to the discussions were more than one hundred, all the discussions happened in the Laforsa squatted social centre (41 av. de la Fama, in Cornellà de Llobregat, suburbs of Barcelona). This old factory is squatted for a year now, but it's quite famous because it has been occupied during several months by its own workers in the late seventies, becoming a symbol of the workers autonomous class struggle.

The discussions were happening in the huge Laforsa's first floor (with plugged simultaneous translations in Spanish, English, French and Italian) and food was served twice a day in the second floor.

Each day was focused on one topic (Thursday: presentation of the present squats and debate about the controversial question of legalization, Friday: the possibilities of resistance against squats evictions - with the stories of Hamsa, Ateneu Korneya and Kasa de la Muntanya in Barcelona, Maintzer strasse in Berlin, Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen, Casablanca in Madrid, the 400 couverts in Grenoble, etc. Saturday: demonstration in the city, then discussions about squatting as a mean for struggle - with the inspiring example of Cabanyal quarter in Valencia, and against prison - with some ex-prisoners, in particular Amadeu Casellas, Sunday: social control and identification methods, especially DNA - with a Barcelona's lawyer who's near the okupa movement, the presentation of the squat!net website and the tools it offers).

The bigger part of the discussions were focused on the presentation of the situations in the different countries or cities... Actually there were squatters from several countries (Catalunya, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark, Poland, Netherlands, Sweden, etc.) and the squat's practices plus the State repression are sometimes quite different from a country to another.
Because of that, we learned a lot, but we had difficulties to go further on the topics.
Other meetings like that could be relevant... Some squatters from Barcelona said they should renew their intersquat dynamics, which are a bit dead for a few years.

In the next days or the next months:
- Monars (Catalunya): Rural squat meeting from July 1st to 4th
- Toulouse (Fr): Pilifest, "Squat and autonomy", from July 3rd to 7th
- Dijon: Summerfest in the autonomous centre "Les Tanneries", from July 16th to 24th
- Berlin: Intersquat festival from September 10th to 19th

Dozens of squats are active in Barcelona, not only the CSO Laforsa, we also could talk about la Rimaia, la Otra Carboner? and Barrilonia who are situated down town and make a lot of activities (library, cyber-cafe, restaurant, parties, etc.) with big banners and paintings on their outside walls. And tons of other squats are active too, Barcelona stays the most important city in Europe talking about "political" squats.

On Saturday June 19th, a breakfast-gathering under the sun was called for 10am in Vallcarca, a quarter where several old houses are squatted and where squats opening and closing are quite often these last years... Gentrification in the quarter sounds "normal" because of the touristy Güell park and so on... But in the same quarter you can find big squats like Kasa de la Muntanya and Blokes Fantasma.

Around 12:30am, the demonstration begins (250-300 people), accross Vallcarca, then in direction of Gracia, to end in Joanic place. During the demo, very numerous direct actions happened. A great collective energy was going on, and the cops were only a few, quite timid (before the beginning, people were quite unsure about the situation, because in May 2007, during the last intersquat demo in Barcelona, the cops closed the demo and fights between cops and squatters were severe, with some injured people... Alfonso, who hurt a cop that was beating up squatters, has been judged only a few weeks ago and has been condemned for three years in prison!).

First, a re-opening of a squat is made in Vallcarca, (the fifth re-opening in Vallcarca in only a few months), some masked people destroyed a wall with sledgehammers and immediately re-occupied the house!

During most of the actions that needed to make stop the demo for a few minutes, someone was taking in a megaphone to explain what's the idea of the action. Quite a lot of people in the streets listened...

In the front of the demonstration, banners were arranged in a U shape to protect the demo from possible police assaults. Slogans we shouted very often, in Catalan and in Spanish (for example "okupa tu tambien", "okupa y resiste", "policia torturadors i asesinos", which mean "you can squat too", "squat and resist", "police tortures and kills"). Some slogans also have been shouted in English and in French.

Dozens and dozens of graffiti have been made, some posters have been glued as well. Several banks have attacked by painted stuff (paint-bombs, graffiti and paint throws), some surveillance video-cameras have been damaged (broken or spray-painted), some banners have been put on different buildings (in particular ex-squats). The advertisment boards of a building site for the new metro line have been spray-painted and/or taken off, one part of the boards has been used as a symbolic barricade just behind the demo. Plaça de les dones del 1936 (1936 women's place), an institutional building has a window smashed (against gentrification).

On the Gracia's town hall place, the official building is protected by some police trucks, which are protected by more or less twenty anti-riot cops. Those cops are attacked by paint throws and by some projectiles. In the place, a huge squat' symbol is painted on the ground.

The demonstration ends in a cool mood on Joanic place, that is spray-painted as well.

This intersquat' demonstration makes an echo to the ones that happened in March in Toulouse, in Grenoble and in Poznan.

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