Self-Organised London in Elephant and Castle has amassed over a dozen activities over the last week, to highlight the injustices caused by gentrification and regeneration of the area. The SOL space located at the South Bank University building Eileen House, is run by a number of collectives, and has raised the problem of how the State and Capital attack people’s freedom in favour of the rich.
Last Saturday, February 23, an anti-gentrification walk around the Elephant explaining the wholesale sell-off of the Heygate Estate announced one of the most savage attempts to destroy the community fabric of the area. This plan to create more luxury buildings in the largest publicly-owned area in central London has seen the use of various ploys to get rid of residents, from payoffs and relocations, to legal action and intimidation.
Eileen House itself expects a similar fate, with planning permission already put off by the London mayor after the SOL occupation of the site. Immediately, legal action to destroy freedom of speech was put into action. First, an injunction against protest was set in motion. This was promptly refused, so the three companies that own the building then set upon using the High Court to obtain their gagging order.*
This behaviour is typical of the State-Capital partnership around the outskirts of London where regeneration is aimed at the wealthiest, and even supposedly affordable housing needs at least a 60,000 pound wage to get hold of them. This freezes out the poor of the area, which along with police repression forces them further from the centre and further ghettoises their existence.
Hackney is another example, with the Olympics having further ostracised minorities and poorer households so that slowly they give way to those who are bigger spenders, and so that consequences of cuts to social services are invisible to those who have the time to take their politics seriously. The rest are just struggling slaves fighting their way into and out of debt as they dream of middle-class financial security.
The squatted Eileen House has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of such issues in just a week of activities, showing that self-organisation is not a pipedream. Working with a low budget, recycling and donations, people have shared their time to fight for our collective futures, using squatting as a tool to provide the space for this action, and people’s energy and creativity as the bubbling brook from which we distribute the message.
Using solidarity as a weapon we have started to instigate the sort of ‘regeneration’ which local residents want to see, one which takes into consideration the desires and needs of the local population, and not just the redevelopment plans of a few big bosses.
Now is the time to join this cry for justice that is represented by the SOL team, so that all who suffer the repression of the rich and powerful start to see the future is ours rather than theirs. In a world of multinational control, let us take control of our lives to ensure our freedom instead of always playing second fiddle to that of the rich.
For freedom! For anarchy! Against their liberties destroying ours!
* The hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, February 27, at 3pm in the High Court at the Royal Courts of Justice. More info on www.selforganisedlondon.org