(eng) Squat Evictions In Amsterdam

Arm The Spirit (ats@etext.org)
Mon, 6 May 1996 18:22:12 +0200

Eviction Of Squats In Amsterdam

Reporters of all Dutch TV-stations and newspapers gathered
early Tuesday-morning, April 2, 1996. For years reports about
"the eviction of the last big squatted house in Amsterdam" had
been spread, but the once famous Amsterdam-squatters' movement
had re-emerged. The journalists all got what they came for:
violence, drama, a circus. But, the average age of these
squatters was 20, or under 20. Due to cutbacks in social
security, students' allowances, high unemployment rates,
rent-prices rising 6% every year, more and more young people see
no other way to get a roof over their heads than to squat a
building. After the enormous influence of squatters in the early
80's, their downfall in the mid-80's, a new generation of
squatters seem to demand their place in Dutch society now.
First one up this Tuesday was a squat on the Heerengracht
584, in the centre of Amsterdam. It had been squatted only three
days before, and was going to be evicted under article 429, the
one and a half year old anti-squat law, that says squatting of a
building that has been used in the last one year is forbidden,
and can be evicted without any intervention from a judge.
Squatters said at had been empty for over 3 years. The owner is
the ING-Bank (the one that bought Nick Leesons' bankrupt Barclays
Bank). When the police-column arrived this early Tuesday-morning
there were no squatters any more: all water-taps were open and
the place looked like a post-modern swimming pool. Next one up
was a former supermarket in the east of town. A big audience
watched the police open the doors: nothing.
Only a few hundred meters away from the supermarket is the
Zeeburgerpad. The houses and (small) industrial buildings were to
be demolished because the Town-Council of Amsterdam wants to
build a road that connects the development-area New-East to the
older part of the city. For ten years people in the Old-East part
of town had been protesting this road, that would cause even more
traffic in the already congested City. In 1994 squatters took
over the last buildings that were to be demolished for this plan,
and tried to get a referendum organized on this plan. For this
purpose they gathered over 7,000 signatures, but the Town-Council
turned down the request for a referendum, saying some of the
people signing the request were no longer traceable. In the
period they lived there the squatters turned this piece of town
in a social-cultural project: they organized concerts and
discussions, run a soup kitchen and established an atmosphere of
The Zeeburgerdijk-squatters built barricades in the night
before their eviction. One of these barricades was lit at 7.30
a.m., directly beneath a railroad crossing nearby. Train traffic
was down for an hour. The police did not arrive immediately, they
decided to evict the two earlier mentioned squats first. The fire
of the barricade was extinguished by the fire brigade at
approximately 8.30 a.m., without any interference from the
squatters. After the police had evicted the supermarket, at 10.00
a.m., police-spokesman Wilting told the press the eviction of the
Zeeburgerpad-buildings were to be a piece of cake. At 11.30 a.m.,
the police-column with water-throwers, bulldozers and helicopter
moved in.
Resistance was bigger than the police ever expected. After
the first barricade was a second, containing steel, a wrecked car
and a caravan. From the roofs of the first building squatters
were throwing rotten fruit. When they ran out of fruit they
turned to stones. Others were banging oil-drums. The water-cannon
was spraying its smelly contents over the squatters on the roof.
Since the toilets in the Zeeburgerpad had been broken for weeks,
buckets full of shit were thrown off the buildings on the heads
of riot-police standing in line when there were no more stones
available. One squatter inside one of the buildings, reporting
live by telephone, told Vrije Keyser Radio he was ready to throw
the telephone itself out of the window, just to stop the
eviction. After an hour some policemen managed to get into the
back of the building and soon the squatters inside were rounded
up, but not after one of them had fallen off the roof (squatters
say he was pushed, he's not in hospital any more). Thirty-six
(36) squatters got arrested. They were taken to
police-headquarters charged with 'violence in public' (article
That night a group of approximately 100 squatters
demonstrated out of solidarity with the imprisoned comrades. At
that moment, nobody knew what had happened to the squatter that
fell off the roof. After arriving at police headquarters the
demonstrators smashed some windows, turned a car upside down and
left some steel on the pavement. They went on to the
Prinsengracht-police-station, where they 'punked' (= trashed) the
front of the building: a sign that was hanging at the front of
this station is now on display in the nearest squatters' bar. One
person was arrested that night. In the following hours most of
the arrested people were released.
Yet, six of them remained in jail. After nine days, April
11th, they were taken to appear in court. Police-detectives told
they had recognized them throwing stones, etc. The prosecutor
demanded 10 day jail-sentences. After this court-session they
were released. A sentence of 9 days (the period they already
spent in jail) is expected. The other 30 squatters will have to
appear in court on a later date. But, they're all homeless now,
and looking for new places to live. So, new buildings have been
squatted in the past few days, all these squats risk eviction as
well, and, there's more houses/buildings that will be evicted
soon. These evictions will be followed by squatting new houses,

Vrije Keyser Radio - Amsterdam, April 17, 1996

Vrije Keyser Radio

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