On April 3rd, there were two attempts to squat different buildings in Amsterdam. This all took place within the context of squatting being illegalized. The first attempt one took place in the early afternoon. Several dozen people guarded the door while people opened the building. Just as it would happen before the squatting ban, the police were allowed into the building. Surprisingly, the police allowed the building to be squatted.
The second attempt happened in the early evening. Fourty people surrounded the door to the building where the squatted apartment was. The rest of the apartments had a rent-cap (or the Dutch equivalent) and rent could not be raised. The squatted apartment was going to be put on the ‘free’ market which simply means that rent could rise and fall with the ‘free market’. Because of this, the residents of the building supported the squat.
Supporters on the ground distributed leaflets to all the neighbors, explaining what was happening and reminding them of the new squatting ban. After a small contingent of police arrived, banners were dropped from the front of the building, one of them reading ‘WHEN HOUSING IS A PRIVILEGE, SQUATTING IS A RIGHT.’ The residents of the building went out on their front porches and drank wine, staring down at the crowd and smiling, pleased to be part of the effort.
After a few hours, four vans of riot police (ME—mobile entity) arrived. After ordering everyone to leave over the van loudspeakers, the police got out of their vans and began to beat people away to the edge of the block. Because the residents were so supportive, they did not allow the police into the building and the front door had to be forced open. There were no arrests because the squatters had escaped by boat (an event unique to Amsterdam).
The squatters and anarchists of Amsterdam are in a tricky and overall shitty situation. Squatting is now illegal, making everything difficult and confusing. For example, one squat was allowed to happen, the other was not, with no reason as to why. Also, there are is a government sponsored campaign called ‘anti-squat’ that has been gaining steam since the 1980’s. This campaign allows a few people to pay cheap rent and live in empty properties just so that they are legally occupied and cannot be squatted. There are over fifteen thousand people willingly taking part in this ‘anti-squat’ effort that is very similar to strike-breaking in the US. The squatters and anarchists are repeating the tactics they have inherited from the 1980’s onward but are now in a completely different environment. There is now an urgent nead for more creative and confrontational tactics.