Squatters' week of success ends with impasse -

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After a successful building take-over on Sunday November 28th by anarchists, "The Squat" at 914 Virginia Ave, housed activists all week who were in town to protest the WTO. After six days a deal was made with the owner and all the squatters left without incidence.


After a successful building takeover on November 28th by anarchists, "The Squat" at 914 Virginia Avenue provided housing all week for a group of activists in town to protest the WTO. As many as a hundred people slept in the makeshift home each night.

Despite the City's decision to shut-off electricity and water on the first night, the squatters prepared communal meals, had strategy meetings to plan for negotiations with the building's owner, and participated in the larger WTO protests. After six days, a deal was negotiated with the owner, and all of the squatters departed without incident.

Much to the disappointment of building owner Wah Lui, no arrests were made.

The squatters were subsequently provided with housing by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) at the Julie Apartments, in downtown Seattle.

"So we had this noon deadline by the police to get out. Around the corner were Metro vans filled with what looked like a hundred cops in riot gear," recalled takeover participant Grimes on Saturday. "Then all of a sudden Sharon (Lee, Director of LIHI) and Bob (Santos, Regional Director of HUD) came running up and said that a deal had been made."

The squatters had worked hard to ensure that the building would remain available for homeless and low-income citizens after their departure.

In the end, it was agreed that SHARE/WHEEL, an organization of homeless women and men, would be able to use the building for an unspecified amount of time as a temporary and emergency shelter. Santos said that some HUD money might be available to support the project.

Negotiations were also begun regarding LIHI's purchase of another Lui property, the Park Seneca Apartments in downtown Seattle, for conversion into mutual housing. Almost immediately after this deal was confirmed, Lui rescinded the agreement.

Throughout the week Lui had displayed this sort of instability repeated, making decisions and then changing his mind. He had professed support for aspects of the squatters' protest, and then confiscated their battery-powered lamps and stated his hope that they would be killed in a confrontation with police.

Lui was angry that no arrests were made, and demanded that the squatters be punished. He threatened to go to the Julie Apartments to try and arrest people himself. He was told by LIHI that he was not to enter the premises. Finally, fearing a confrontation with Lui, the police were called regarding filing a complaint against Lui.

"He (Lui) has actually shown a bit of sympathy to the causes we're working on," Grimes said. "What we have a problem with is the system that all these people participate in, where a few control some pretty valuable resources while there are others that have fucking nothing." - scott winn


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