Mostafa evicted and prisoner solidarity needed!

This morning the violent thugs returned to the estate after yesterday’s brutal Sweetstopia eviction and executed their possession order against Mostafa and his family, the final original residents at Sweets Way. Solidarity actions with those arrested at 6pm.

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High Court bailiffs smashed through the window of the room Mostafa was sleeping in, to forcibly remove him from his home today. The eviction leaves the family without a home, unwilling to sign for a property offered by Barnet Homes that he literally can’t get in and out of in his wheelchair. This offer would be enough of an insult, were it not already coming after three years of mistreatment of the family by Barnet Homes.

The family have been attempting to secure additional evidence that Barnet claim they need to house him properly, but have been stifled by bureaucracy in the past week. Today, they will be pursuing alternative evidence that will be presented to Barnet as soon as it is received. The family has until tomorrow (Friday) to accept the current offer or face discharge from the Barnet Homes housing list.

Many supporters gathered to impede Mostafa’s eviction, with several taking to the roof of the house to do so. High Court bailiffs in a cherry picker crane have since physically removed the protestors, one-by-one, arresting them for obstruction. Sixteen arrests of peaceful protesters were made this morning.

We will continue to support Mostafa in this critical moment. We also need to make sure that those who were defending his home feel all of our support for their brave stands this morning and over the last months.

Join us at either Colindale police station (Grahame Park Way, NW9 5TW) OR South Harrow Police Station (74 Northolt Road, HA2 0DN) at 6pm (people are being held at both stations) to demand their unconditional release!

We will not see our friends locked up, while Guy Hands and the architects of social cleansing at Sweets Way are allowed to walk free!

You win some, you lose some

Our community house is now facing imminent eviction, we shut down Barnet Homes for 2 hours, a judge told Barnet Council that they can’t use high court bailiffs against Mostafa, and we were told that ‘no county court bailiffs will touch Sweets Way with a barge pole’!

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COMMUNITY HOUSE FACING EVICTION
Thursday began with an early start, prepping for and heading to the courts in Finchley Central in the rain. Our five-month old community occupation was up against a possession order. We knew there was precious little legal defence for our presence in the house, since most judges don’t seem as impressed as us that we have used our occupation to reinforce a powerful community in the face of deliberate attempts to destroy it, but we had to give it a go.

Unsurprisingly, we lost. Quickly. And the judge accepted the claimant’s assertion that High Court (not County Court) bailiffs would be required to remove us, since, according to the claimant’s barrister, ‘no county court bailiffs will touch Sweets Way with a barge pole.’ This comment was probably the only silver lining of a pretty bleak morning, and seems to be an indication that we’re doing something right. We assume all the county court bailiffs in London are taking a principled stand in solidarity with our struggle for housing justice by refusing to evict us.

WE SHUT DOWN BARNET HOMES!
IMG_20150827_124448From the courts, we went to Barnet Homes to protest the treatment Mostafa and his family have faced, and to make a series of demands that Barnet Homes needs to meet immediately to address the family’s needs. We shut down the building, at both entrances at several points over a two or three hour period, making crystal clear that if they continue to fail Mostafa and so many others, we will continue to make business-as-usual impossible for them.

MOSTAFA’S TEMPORARY COURTROOM VICTORY
Then, just as we were leaving, we heard from Mostafa, who had spent the morning at the Royal Courts of Justice, applying for a stay of execution on Barnet Council’s decision to allow High Court bailiffs to evict him without offering a time and date. What we all thought would have been a bureaucratic formality, turned out to be a major victory for the family and the campaign. Mostafa saw a judge, who was able to see Barnet’s utter lack of sensitivity over his needs as a person with disabilities and made clear that the Council would need to immediately cease any pending High Court bailiff actions and find a date to have a full and proper hearing to justify why they think they needed to do so in the first place.

This means that there will be at least weeks, possibly months, before the family have to leave their home, if Barnet continues to fail to offer them a suitable alternative. It also mean Mostafa will finally get a day in court to explain why he feels a High Court bailiff eviction is entirely unfair and disproportionate to the situation, after the decision to use High Court bailiffs against him was taken in secret, without his knowledge.

For once in the campaign, the justice system actually ruled on the side of justice! We won’t get too used to this, but it certainly helped balance out the legal ruling against our community home.

WE NEED REINFORCEMENTS
For the immediate future, we need people who are able to come stay the night at 76 Oakleigh Road North, to be able to help defend this crucial pocket of community strength we’ve held onto since Annington began evicting families from the estate.

If you think you can come along, please drop us an email on: sweetswayresists[AT]gmail.com

A bittersweet day at Sweets Way

Yesterday began with a very few hours of sleep at the Sweets Way social centre, preparing for the unannounced evictions that have the potential to follow Friday’s move by Annington to pass the remaining residents’ possession orders along to High Court bailiffs. It was an underslept, nervous, tense and teary start to the day, as families got kids ready for school, realising those kids might not be able to come back to those same homes again. It is hard to describe that feeling. It is a condensed version of the stress that the whole ‘regeneration’ process has created in the lives of the Sweets Way community. From there, supporters and former families of Sweets Way helped to occupy the homes of current residents, who headed to Barnet Homes to demand to be housed immediately, after this renegade move by Annington to scare people off the estate. Living for even a few days under the uncertainty of a high court bailiff eviction order is a stress that is hard to imagine, if you haven’t seen it up close. Imagine knowing each night when you went to bed that you might be awakened by violent goons breaking down your front door, leaving you with 10 minutes to collect everything you can carry and get out, leaving the rest behind. It feels like a form of torture, and certainly doesn’t allow for a decent night’s sleep…

However, once the Sweets Way Resists families had seen the Chief Exec of Barnet Homes, things began to look up. After months of Barnet Homes chucking families miles and boroughs away, into hovels without heating or hot water, two families were given quite decent arrangements, in areas they were happy with… one even got a five year lease, unheard of in the days of insecure private tenancies, and something unimaginable before the campaign kicked-off! But not long after, word came through from our friends at Focus E15, that Jasmin Stone, founding mum from the campaign and active Sweets Way Resistor, had been arrested at a new housing occupation in Newham! Not only that, we were told she was getting held overnight! At this point we split – half of us got to plotting and scheming about the next stages of the campaign, the others headed to Newham to help put the pressure on the police station where Jas was being held. A few hours later, 40 or so people in East London had put sufficient pressure on the Met to get Jasmin freed, and the Sweets Way crew headed back to Barnet for a relaxed evening in.

Looking back at the day, we experienced a lot of emotions together. We are all thrilled that some of the group managed to secure decent housing, after so much stress, but at the same time, had to acknowledge the reality that *nothing* that has been offered to anyone from the campaign seeking alternative housing in recent months competes with the quality of homes that Sweets Way residents had become used to living in. These of course, are the homes Annington has begun to destroy.

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Contracted vandalism at Sweets Way

Further, the victories of ending the precarity many residents had been living with, also came at the cost of more-rapidly emptying the estate and paving the way for demolition. Annington created a crisis on Friday; Barnet Homes cleaned up the mess, and in the process made Annington’s lives easier for them, priming the estate for near-immediate destruction. All that said, one thing that all former residents have agreed upon, whatever their particular circumstances, is that this fight is not over. With the most immediate stresses removed from peoples’ shoulders, we feel more able than ever to hold Annington and Barnet to account for what they have done to our community. As long as they can profit from social cleansing, we can continue to get in the way and to put them in the spotlight for it. And dozens of ex-Sweets Way families and supporters, freed of the worry of imminent evictions, are actively preparing ourselves for just that!

PS – Still have the threat of high court bailiffs hanging over our heads, so please stay tuned. Even with families on their way out, bailiffs have still been known to put people through hell!

PPS – bunnies! (Because no bailiff can stop the appreciation of bunnies)

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