Warsaw: Elba squat stays!


Elba squat was raided on March 16th, 2012, by henchmen of a private security company who received assistance from the Polish police. The project was established in 2004. The Finnish company Stora Enso (the owner of the premises) has been well aware of Elba’s existence and activity and, after protests two years ago, the presence of the squatters in the area was accepted. No user of the building was notified of a scheduled date of eviction, so the incursion came as a total surprise for the people living in the squat, which is the biggest and oldest active social and cultural centre in Warsaw.

Shortly after 11am, guards hired by the ‘Skrzecz’ security agency broke into the building. They didn’t present an eviction warrant and used violence against squatters in order to force them to leave the property. The squatters resisted, and one person barricaded himself in his room and at least six others occupied the roof of the building. They issued an urgent call for help and support. Soon, police units arrived at the place. The fact that the attempted eviction was illegal was ignored by the police, who instead started to block the solidarity demo.

After a few hours, there were around 100 protesters trying to stop the eviction, facing nearly 30 riot cops who were assisting the security agents. The protesters clashed with the police, who attacked them using tear gas and truncheons; however, no large-scale clashes occurred. As the time passed, more police units showed up surrounding the squatters and supporters. Shortly after 6pm, the police received orders to disperse and started to remove reporters from the place. That seemed to be the start of a brutal eviction. Yet, police and security guards finally left the area, at 8pm. This allowed people to enter the squat and take it back.

The next day, the collective Elba issued a statement condemning actions of the police and the security agency. Also, Anonymous collective attacked the security company’s website and its email accounts. The website was taken down as a symbolic action of solidarity.

It has been brought to attention that the owner of the area gave squatters one week to move out. Elba calls for international support in order to prevent any further attacks. A demonstration in defense of the squat is scheduled for March 23rd in the city centre of Warsaw.

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more info/multimedia: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and i, ii