Six arrested at anti-Tesco squat in Manchester

Tagged as: bruntwood free_spaces repression social_struggles squatting tesco
Neighbourhoods: kro_bar manchester oxford_road

 

Six people were arrested today at the occupation of the disused Kro2 Bar in hcentral Manchester.  Police illegally forced entry to the squat and made arrests on suspicion of causing criminal damage, shortly before a demonstration outside at 1.30pm.

 

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One of the occupants, Georgia Ashley, involved in the protest but not in the building at the time of the arrests said, “Plans by Bruntwood property developers to build a Tesco here is another example of the increasing corporate takeover of our city. As more and more identical chainstores are built, rents are going up and ordinary Mancunians are getting priced out.”

Ashley added, “This isn't just about Tesco, bad as they are. It's about the dominance of big businesses at a local, national and international level. What we've seen today is a classic collaboration of the police and corporate interests. The cops have arrested people on spurious evidence in order to re-secure the property for developers Bruntwood, so that they can continue with plans to make yet another chainstore.  We wanted to open this space up for ordinary people to ask the question, 'Who runs Manchester? And in whose in interests?' "

The space was occupied yesterday evening.  Around 11am today, Bruntwood security backed up by a police presence blocked the entrance to the fire exit that was being used to enter the occupied space. Crowds gathered outside Kro2 at 1.30pm in support of the people who had been arrested inside shortly beforehand around 12.45pm.  The demonstration then marched down to the nearby police station at Bootle Street in protest against the police's actions.  On the way, the crowd stopped outside a recently opened Tesco Express on the site of former nightclubs 'Jillies Rockworld' and 'Music Box'.

Ashley continued, “The police are claiming that damage to a nearby fence and door warranted the arrests. However, their forced entry and arrests were unlawful, since the police have no evidence that any of the six people who happened to be in the space at the time were responsible. It was just an excuse to get them out.”

 

Squat ban to be discussed in the Lords soon

This occupation also takes place just days before the UK government plans to criminalise squatting in residential buildings, despite 720,000 properties standing empty.

The proposed legislation will have impacts on the most vulnerable people in society, will empower unscrupulous landlords and burden the justice system, police and charities.

The Law Society said, “We have no reason to believe that the existing law does not deal adequately with squatting.” If the new law goes through, it will cost the taxpayer an estimated £790m over the next five years, and only exacerbate homelessness in Britain.

Speaking about the proposed ban, Professor Danny Dorling of Sheffield University said, “If considered carefully, spending so much government money to help what are mostly very affluent organisations keep buildings empty is not justifiable.

 

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