A police campaign of violence against anti-capitalist activists began at the weekend when they swooped on a squatted community building and, with the help of bailiffs and the building's owners, vandalised the former button factory, rendering it inhabitable. Mechanical diggers were used to demolish part of the building.
Two hundred (if you read the Sunday Telegraph) or 150 (if you read the Sunday Times) police officers were involved in the raid, even though the building was known to be empty. Officers from the Metropolitan, City and British Transport Police (if you get your news from the BBC) or Special Branch overseen by MI5 (if you read the Sunday Times) or riot police (if you read the Sunday Telegraph) were involved in violence and property destruction. "We're the law, and we can smash up what the fuck we like", a copper said, still sweating from his exertions. "I wish you hadn't smashed the bogs up, I need a shit", said another boy in blue.
There is a long history of squatting buildings for community purposes in London, and in the Brixton area in particular. This squat was one in a long line of previous squats (such as the Cool Tan - so called because it was housed in a former sun tan lotion factory, and the old Dole House). These squats have been used as meeting places for community groups, and as art and entertainment spaces. However, in recent years, a drive by local councillors to turn Brixton into a high-rent Yuppy playground has led to widespread evictions of squatters.
Anarchists squatted and continuously occupied the 121 centre on Railton Road in Brixton for more than fifteen years. By law, the building should have become the property of the occupants. However, Lambeth Council decided that building a load of shopping complexes was more important for Brixton's future than the existence of vibrant, grassroots, community groups.
Big money is more important than little people, and as ever, the police will always be on hand to effect the "legal" violence that usually accompanies such evictions. For many years, councils have employed professional "property destroyers" whose job it is to make sure that squatted buildings - once evicted - cannot be used again. For example, they might fill toilets with cement or take floor boards out.
Now that they have smashed up the former button factory they say that "a police presence will be maintained in the area to ensure community safety". Funny that - coming from the same force that routinely beats up Black men whilst in custody.