We have been served court papers; an Interim Possession Order and a Possession Order.
What does this mean for the LQSC? It means the beginning of the end for our first venue, but not for the project. We will re-locate, we will continue.
Having chosen this route of expense and brutality over, say, having a conversation with us; the council have initiated a process which ultimately we cannot win – though we may be able to prolong our existence some short while. We have attempted to open a dialogue with them – aiming to come to some agreement on when we would leave based on when they might actually use the building, but they refused to meet with us, ignored our emails, and have opted for court.
The process is this: On Friday at 2pm we will appear in court for the hearing of the interim possession order. This is a very costly procedure, which is the fastest way of evicting a building. If we lose, they have the right to serve the possession order within 48 hours of the court hearing, meaning they must post the possession order on our door. Exactly 24 hours after they post this, bailiffs will come to evict the building. This means that if we lose on Friday we have until Saturday afternoon at the earliest, Monday afternoon at the latest.
Should we win on Friday, we will have another court date on November 16th, after which we would be served the possession order in a similar way, but with less legal ramifications were we to resist.
Experience tells us that the nature of the project – the good relations with (almost all) neighbors, the constructive, useful and positive work we have been doing, the fact that this is home to seven people, the length of time the building was left empty – all will be irrelevant to the trial, the judge never gives a shit. Like the police, the court presents itself as an impersonal arbitrator of justice; a solid, un-prejudiced system in which the judges and court officials simply enact the laws of the land – they present the decisions they make as almost out of their hands. This vision of a fair, impartial structure is of course a total lie, on many levels.
We know first hand that judges have personal prejudices which they act on in court; we have seen them ignore laws, have heard them voice political beliefs and chastisements during trial. In one case, a comrade received a prison sentence where others, arrested on the same day for the same offence, received only community service. The presiding judge made his hatred of the defendant plain in court, and told them that he would love to give them a longer sentence, but could only go so far given the precedents set by the other judges.
Secondly, no-one could seriously contend that the courts are equally accessible to all, that we can all represent ourselves to the same degree. While the council have professional full-time lawyers and a horde of un-paid interns, we have only Google, our history of eviction processes, and of course the wonderful Advisory Service for Squatters (A.S.S) to help us pull together a defense. To be clear; defending in the courts relies not on your need for housing, not on the nature of the building or for how long it was empty, not on any community work you may be doing – but only in hoping to find some flaw in their prosecution papers, some technicality they have overlooked.
But, more fundamental than either of these problems is of course the nature of the law itself. We never agreed to follow their laws, to live under their rule… We never consented to capital! Even if the courts were free of prejudice and corruption, some perfect bureaucratic behemoth – they would still be nothing better than a kind face on tyranny, a concentration of brutal power that appears more palatable only by being consistent in its distribution of punishment.
We will fight in court. But more importantly, we will keep going after their prosecution, their game rigged against us.