Here is a little recap of what happened in the first week of our campaign and occupation of the Waldeck Pyrmontkade 872 in The Hague. The aim is to create an overview of what we’ve done and why, and list our victories as well as the things we want to work on in the future.
Friday 1st of May
The first steps are made in the squatting of the building. There couldn’t be a better day!
Monday 4th of May
Before we could start our struggle against the building of Short Stay apartments it was necessary for us to occupy and keep the building on the Waldeck Pyrmontkade successfully. Preparations were made to prevent an immediate eviction by the police, as is often the case in The Hague, and a possible reaction on part of the owner.
At 9a.m. some sympathizers, with whom we had discussed the strategy beforehand, called the neighbourhood cop in our name, to inform them of our occupation. Faced with the impossibility to reach the neighbourhood cop we decided to postpone the announcement to the next day.
Tuesday 5th of May – Liberate!
At 9a.m. we called the neighbourhood cop again. This time around we managed to reach him. Since he was working from home, we set an appointment to the next day so he could officially acknowledge our housing rights and take note of the squatting action. Having announced our occupation to the police, we also informed the owner via mail, at 9.43 a.m. and immediately received an automatic notification that the e-mail had been received. We were confident that our first step had been solidified, there would be no turning back from this point on.
Wednesday 6th of May
We woke up in a productive mood, cleaned up and fixed the building to our needs. The neighbourhood cop came buy for a coffee on the street, joked with some neighbours and told us he would get in touch with the owners. After having done so, he informed us the owners were not amused. We spent the afternoon and evening in a series of meetings to discuss the specifics of our following step; to spread information about our action, the reasoning behind it and what we are struggling against and most of all for. We would drop a huge banner from the building, letting everyone know we had occupied it and expressing our opposition to the gentrifying plans of the owner. Next to the banner our press release would be sent to all possibly interested, the press, activist groups, local political parties, etc. and widely spread on social media.
Thursday 7th of May
Thursday was meant to be a day of preparation for our big day on Friday. Unfortunately, it was disrupted by the arrival of two people claiming to be contactors for the owner. They arrived in a 50.000€ car, wearing designer clothes and sunglasses and announcing that they wanted to start preparations for the demolition of the building. As they were putting up the fences, some supportive neighbours called them out in solidarity with our action. They told them, and rightfully so, that they were not welcome in The Hague to continue the gentrification they had already infested Amsterdam with. Following this, many other sympathisers from the neighbourhood showed up and denounced the owner’s actions and urged them to leave, occasionally grabbing on to the fences the contractors were trying to place around the building. The contractors threatened to come back the next day and told us they’d be starting the demolition whether we had left or not. With that, the owner’s contractors left, and returned to Amsterdam. Their attempt at intimidation failed in the face of our solidarity, leaving us and the neighbours cheering in victory.
Having the support of the neighbourhood left us all the more confidant to start our campaign in the early morning of the next day. The news of the occupation and the specific intention of it had also already spread widely in squatter circles in The Hague, and preparations were being made to prevent any eviction attempt by the owner.
Friday 8th of May
At 9.55 a.m. the owner’s contractors come to fulfil his threat. Having heard of yesterday’s events, people mobilized in disapproval of the owner’s actions. The owner’s contractors were by far outnumbered by the amount of people supporting the campaign from the streets and the balconies, about 15 to 1. Simultaneously the people inside dropped a 7-meter long banner, catching the owner by surprise while leaving the sympathisers cheering in the streets. These consecutive successes were crowned by the owner’s contractors giving in, and once again leaving the scene, overwhelmed.
Before they left we gave them our phone number (not a personal one) out of good will because they claimed to be willing to “open a discussion on resolving the situation and therefore the housing crisis” (their words, not ours). As soon as night began to fall, a representative of the owner showed up creating a ruckus by shouting at us from the street. They claimed to be the lawyer of the company, and announced they were going to smash our windows. After attempting to engage with them in dialogue, they started claiming to be the owner, and then left in rage while screaming typical slurs against squatters, the same that have been used for generations (Why don’t you just get a job? Go and live with your parents! This is my property! Junkies!).
From the hectic pressroom we managed to send our press release to numerous press outlets as well as to local political parties. On the day itself, we received two requests for interviews, some more in the following days. We also got shows of support by some political parties and local politicians. Most importantly, other groups involved in anti-gentrification and anti-capitalism latched on to the news and the struggle, immediately recognising it. By doing this we aim to create a public debate on the housing crisis and the role of investment funds in the sell-out of the city and also actively propose a more social city. This being only the start of our campaign.
Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to caring for all the things we had not been able to do in the rush of the last few days. We answered emails, worked on our twitter account and started making our living spaces more comfortable. Many rooms in the building were converted to spaces to be used for the campaign, ironically producing an office-like feeling.
Monday 11th of May
By Monday the first phase of our actions were fully consolidated: the building had been occupied and successfully held, our statement had been received well by sympathisers, neighbours and the press. We met all day to prepare the series of actions to follow. We’re only getting started! Keep up to date through our twitter page, shortstaynoway.nl and indymedia.
Big ups to all those who showed solidarity with us this week, showed up when we needed them, cooked with us, helped us fix stuff in the house, were willing to talk to the press, cops and owners with us, and follow us on twitter. Know that this is only the start of our campaign. From here on out we will put pressure and act on the establishment for fair housing for everyone and the redistribution of wealth. We want change and we want it now!
Make sure to tell your friends, your neighbours and family!
Follow us online for the latest information and spread the word!
Soon the poster will be downloadable on our website. Print them out and share them in your local grocery store, bookstore, café, in the streets or on your own window.
Together we can stop the devastating rampage of capitalism; together we can stop the sell-out of cities! We don’t want to succumb to capitalism, that’s why capitalism should succumb to us!