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aaaaargZombies wrote (edited )

It's a long one so I hope you're still interested.

Once upon a time a group of us wanted to open a space and host a bunch of events, I think it was may day and the plan was to create an alternative to the usual talks by various unions. We found a building that had been empty for a long time, did some research, it had planning application to convert it to flats but it looked like the process had stalled some time ago and it seemed kind of forgotten about.

We get in and it's pretty gross inside, we shovel up a bunch of bird poop and unfortunately a couple of dead pigeons. We get the water on and the electricity is still live. We work our way upstairs and there's a boarded up door and another with some pretty decent locks fitted as if it's an external door but it isn't.

We unscrew the boards on the first door and peek behind, it's small and there's some cupboards that look like they will go into a kitchen. Must be from the planned conversion. We then set to work getting into the locked room, cutting through the door frame where the latch sits.

Once we're in we find a large weed grow. The windows have all been boarded over to stop light getting out, lots of ventilation ducts, plastic sheeting, hoses everywhere. But it all looks long dead. Plants have all been harvested and every things dry as a bone. We um and ah about what to do. We decide that whoever's project this is must be long gone, they were probably squatting the building some time ago. We decide this is a good sign that we won't get bothered by the owner.

We're slightly concerned about what happens if the police turn up, trespass is one thing but we don't want to be liable for the grow. We talk about sealing the door back up and pretending we don't know any thing about it but we think it looks too obvious with the damage to the door frame. We decide to dismantle everything and move it into the small room, bury it under all the unused cupboards then seal the doorway up really well.

The next evening we're putting the finishing touches to the space and we get a knock on the door, it's the cops. They want to know what we're doing so we tell them we live here now, blah blah blah. They aren't happy and they want to come in. Obviously not. They give us some good cop, bad cop script and more and more cops start arriving. We buy some time by telling them we'll think about it but we need to have a consensus decision making meeting which can take some time. If they knock on the door we just start telling them about the formal decision making process until they get frustrated and leave us be for a bit. We make a callout and a bunch of people also turn up in the street to watch and argue with them. Someone posts bust cards through the letter box.

We stand off for a while and then the cops come back with a peace offering. One of them will come in and do a fire safety check and if everything's OK they'll be on their way. Now we really have to decide what to do, not just pretend and fuck about. Normally if you let a cop in, you've kind of stuffed your legal standing as occupier but legal doesn't really mean much when your dealing with the cops and there's enough of them to easily take the building by force. Letting them do the fire check would give them something to write in their little report and allow them to back down without losing too much face.

Problem is now that there's several vans of cops outside, we're not feeling too confident about our trick with the cupboards and the boarded up room. There's no reason that the fire inspector cop won't want to be let into that room and if he finds the grow we're pretty fucked. We stall a bit more but this time they've lost all patience for our jokes about consensus decision making. They know they've given us a way to resolve it quickly and easily and we're being unreasonable.

We decide that we just have to hold tight. We look for things to barricade the door, something to do while the time crawls by.

Eventually, they all just leave. No good byes, something else must be going on and they've been sat here doing nothing for a couple of hours. We're pretty fucking happy.

Event's start up the next morning. They're pretty pleasant, a bunch of different people have agreed to do skill shares and the like. We have a lull in the afternoon and it's mostly people who have been involved in setting up the space sitting around drinking tea and chatting.

Suddenly we hear loads of yelling outside. There's a very large man in his 50's absolutely raging and a younger man that could be his son. Is this the owner? or worse, is the person whose grow we've just trashed. What if it wasn't long dead and they were just between crops? The large man starts hurling himself at the door while the younger man tells him to wait, he doesn't know who's inside. He's not listening and he's showing no interest in calling the cops so we figure it must be his grow.

We try to decide what we should do and all gather by the door but before we have time to think he's in. Everyone seems to have the same thought, none of us think we can take him and even if we fend him off how long till he calls reinforcements? We try to run out the door but he's blocking the way. We sort of form and orderly queue and each get punched in the stomach and then run out the door. It's probably the most efficient and British violent eviction that has ever been carried out.

We go and get cups of tea and sympathy at a friends place of work while we nurse our ego's. In our haste to leave we left loads of stuff and a bunch of it was borrowed. A field kitchen, power tools, etc. After a couple of hours we steel ourselves and walk back to see what can be salvaged. Large man is gone and there's a bunch of cronies looking a bit bemused at our weird posters and securing the building. We sheepishly ask to get out stuff back and they are cool about it, one of them apologizes that Large man hit the women. Someone suggests that they let us stay for a couple of days so we can finish our events then we'll be leaving anyway. It does not go down well and we clear the rest of our shit out quickly.

Neither party mentions the grow. We can't be certain it's theirs or not. We point out the spot on the wall where we wrote the meter reading so they can see we haven't used enough electricity for months of hydroponics and we tell them we haven't moved "anything" out of the building. They ask us where we'll go next if this is our home like the sign on the door says but we've had enough conversations with cops to know you don't answer questions like that.

We make our way back to someones house to decompress and that's the end of the squatting story.

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celebratedrecluse OP wrote

that was an entertaining story. I'm glad you all made it out with only a punch, I was worried about half way through !

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