We’re publishing a motion by the LOVE activists (Liverpool) who occupied an emptied building of the Bank of England to demand its utilisation to help the homeless people. The motion is going to be presented at the International Meeting of Solidarity and Struggle to be held in the city of Campinas (Brazil) from 6 to 9 June.
Support the Love Activists who occupied the disused Bank of England in Liverpool for three weeks from 18 April
In Liverpool a group of activists called “Love Activists” occupied the disused Bank of England, near the old town hall, in Liverpool from 18 April to when they were evicted on 12 May. The occupation was carried out to highlight the plight of the homeless in Liverpool and to help the homeless with food, clothes and shelter, over 50 homeless people turned up every day.
It also developed a sense of worth, value and community with the many homeless people who became involved.
On 29 April, Occupiers published a list of demands (see below). These demands were directed at the Labour Party Mayor and the Labour Council. They demanded a meeting with the Mayor and that the homeless be housed. The political representatives in the city did not meet a single demand.
When issuing the demands the LOVE Activists also said: “We intend to use this building for the community, to inspire a feeling of community, which is lacking.
“We do this in direct response to a local council and government who are lacking in their efforts to help those in need and in fact, the local Council and government seem intent on making matters worse for the people by putting more and more austerity measures in place.
“We wish by the direct action of occupying an empty unused building and using said building to provide certain needs for the street people or for that matter anyone else who needs to use what is provided by donations, which come from the local community.”
The LOVE Activists understood that the fight for Homeless people was against the austerity plans of the national government and its implementation by local councils including those controlled by the Labour Party.
In a poll conducted by the Echo newspaper (the main local daily newspaper) during the occupation 52% said they supported the occupiers continuing in the disused Bank of England site. However, the Echo reported many inaccuracies about the occupation as if they were fact and on a number of occasions refused to print the facts provided by the occupiers.
During the occupation the police used dispersal orders; when a person has a dispersal order they cannot go back to the area for 48 hours because if they do it could mean arrest. Dispersal orders, however, would have to be agreed by the City Mayor, Joe Anderson, a member of the Labour Party.
The police erected barriers to try to prevent food and water being handed into the occupiers. None of the police attempts could have been done without the complicity of the Mayor, the Police Chief Constable or the Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy who was a Labour MP in Liverpool before becoming Commissioner.
During the occupation, the FBU (firefighters) carried an emergency motion at their national conference supporting the LOVE Activists Occupation and stating the FBU firefighters will not be used as police to make or help evictions. Their role remains one of public safety and is not a police role (they cited a case in Spain where firefighters there refused to carry out an eviction of an elderly person). Local UCU branches, Liverpool TUC and other trade union branches also support the LOVE Activists occupation and continuing fight.
The police invaded the Bank of England building early in the morning on 12 May. As the last one left the three-week occupation and since then, 19 activists have been arrested and are due to appear in court in August.
After leaving the Bank of England, the activists continued their fight for the homeless and are now occupying a building in the city centre (3 June).
List of demands, 29 April 2015
1. We demand Mayor Joe Anderson meets with us before the end of this week
2. We demand the Merseyside Labour councils and Joe Anderson Mayor rejects the cuts and says no to austerity and no to the cuts. We are suffering ‘Enuf is Enuf’ – we and they need sanctuary.
3. We demand all of the homeless we have been supporting and helping to provide a sense of worth and belonging are re-housed immediately.
4. We demand Social Services and Mental Health Services undertake rapid assessments of those we are supporting, they are very vulnerable.
5. We have learned the drug and alcohol rehabilitation services are underfunded and unsupported, with long waiting lists, cuts to funding. These services must be well resourced and protected. We say no to privatisation.
6. The voices of the homeless must be heard and their requests must be actioned and they must be treated as equals.
7. We have also learned that the Homeless Provision in Merseyside is at breaking point; we have been working with the Whitechapel Centre in particular and will continue with that positive relationship.
8. We demand that the first step to recovery for those with addiction issues is a roof over their heads; this is a priority over their recovery.
9. We would also like to thank the community and businesses of Liverpool and further afield for their generous support in solidarity of our direct action to occupy the Bank of England – we have only got this far with that support.
10. We continue to peacefully resist our removal from the Occupied Bank until our demands are met in full.
Please demand the immediate dropping of all charges against the arrested activists. Write to:
Echo newspaper: Editor [email protected]
Chief Constable: Sir Jon Murphy, [email protected]
Police Commissioner: Jane Kennedy [email protected]
Mayor Joe Anderson: [email protected]
Juliet Edgar (Reclaim group leader) [email protected]
Model message that could be sent:
We support the aims of the occupation that took place over three weeks by the Love Activists to help build a movement of and for the homeless. We support their ten demands.
We refute the heavy-handed manner of the police on the morning of 12 May, namely the use of shields, dogs and arrests.
We condemn the arrests by the police.
We call for the dropping of all charges against those arrested.