Bingo hall evicted (meeting tonight now outside!)

Last night the 20 occupants of the old bingo hall were evicted by around 50 police including tactical units with riot gear, under the pretext of fire regulations. Ironically, the police interrupted a meeting that had just secured 5 fire extinguishers and was discussing the opening up of the remaining fire exits in preparation for the planned public launch tomorrow.

The police initially said that they would not take action on the squatted building, as squatting is a civil matter between occupants and building owner. However, the squatters gained a higher profile through local media and outreach work, promoting anti-capitalism and social change, and organising a public meeting and music event that was anticipated to draw large numbers of people. Following this, the police threatened the occupiers over two days, and finally moved to protect property and the status quo, using any possible excuse.

The fire officer who accompanied the police said that the occupiers would have to immediately remove the metal grills covering fire doors to make the building safe. This was planned for the following morning, and the occupiers and fire warden agreed that this could happen immediately, however the police accompanying the fire officer made it clear that this would immediately lead to arrests for criminal damage. It was obvious from the huge number of police in attendance that the outcome was already set, and that the only result the police would tolerate was eviction. Given the recent reputation of police actions against political protestors, the occupiers left for the own safety rather than keep the doors secured.

We expect that this building in the centre of our city will remain empty for an indefinite amount of time, as has the previous social centre site on Mill Road, owned by Tesco, and an increasing number of properties in the area. At the same time, artists, musicians, community groups and local people struggle to find spaces to meet, socialise and put on events.

We believe that local communities, rather than wealthy interests, should determine what the buildings and spaces in the local area are used for. We will be going ahead with the planned public meeting at 7.30 pm, in the street outside the bingo hall, where we will be discussing the repression we have faced, free spaces, and our plans for the future.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by ct on July 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Following on from a conversation after the meeting the other day – game theory and the prisoners dilemma. How Rand Corporation economists and a paranoid schizophrenic mathematician (John Nash) set up a model where rational self-interest and distrust was supposed to create stability and equilibrium, that became the dominant paradigm for capitalist society. It also talks about social control, and system definition of ‘normality’ and ‘sanity’ in dark, dangerous and negative ways. Adam Curtis’ ‘The Trap’ i (the urls change, as the movies get taken down often). It’s a 3 parter, well worth it. His other docs are mind-blowing too.

    Anyway, nice to meet you all, v sad that we lost the building… reopening the Central Cinema was an exciting prospect. Ah, onto the next one! Do put me on the mailing list.


  2. Posted by Philip on July 20, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Oh no! Sorry that I wasn’t there – not that it sounds like I could’ve helped much….. 😦 To ongoing organisation and the future!


  3. […] A group of local young anarchists are set on turning these fallow buildings into resources for the community. They squatted the proposed site of the Tescos on Mill Road, tapping into the anti-Tescos sentiment in the area and grassroots political action. For four days this week, a number of people squatted the old Bingo Hall on Hobson Street, with their first poetry slam/spoken word event planned last night. Unfortunately, they were forcefully removed from the premises the night before by at least 50 police and tactical units in riot gear. Talk about overkill. From the Cambridge Freespaces blog: […]


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