Amsterdam view: fighting for a place to live?
Posted on October 3, 2010
The first day of October was an eventful one. It was the day new anti-squat legislation came into force. Squatters all over the country had announced protest marches and, needless to say, the Amsterdam squatters chimed in.
It started peaceful enough, but I thought the group of squatters that lead the way were rather ominously hiding themselves behind black ski masks and scarfs. If you are politically engaged and want to stand on the barricades for better legislation, I wondered, why would you hide your face? Why would you not fight it openly? How will you gain sympathy if nobody is able to recognize your good intentions? It doesn’t feel very need-based or politically motivated what these squatters are doing.
It did get out of hand. Shielded by nightfall protesters flung bricks, chairs and whatever they could get their hands on at the police. The anti-riot squad responded with teargas and water cannons. Mounted police charged into the masses, clubbing down squatters like baby seals. Fires lit up on bridges and in streets. The continuous dark roar of police helicopters added to the warlike sensation. Search lights flooded the streets and the canals, chasing grisly dark figures trying to escape.
The anti-riot squad knocking down the anti-squat riot…
Next day I cycled through my neighborhood. The mayor’s residence was still cordoned off by anti-riot squads. Fires had blackened bridges and some parts of the streets did not have a single clinker left. Unsettling was the news that a 15-year-old friend of my son ended up in prison. Apparently he –or his overly excited hormones– decided to join the party and he got nabbed. He is still in prison, in solitary confinement even, because he’s a juvenile. Very unsettling.
There is plenty of footage of these riots out on the net, like this one from my friends who had front row seats, so I include some pictures of the eviction of the squatters next door to my writer’s residence in the early eighties. For more information you can visit the archives of the Dutch Squat Movement.