Report from squatting festival in Lund, Sweden 16-17 may

For many years in Sweden, squatting houses has been something not
attempted very often, a lot because of the no-tolerance laws and
practice by the Swedish state. The attempts during the last 15-20 years
met heavy sentences and the interest in squatting sank to a low level.
After the eviction of Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen many were inspired by
the resistance and the movement that arose around the fight for a youth
house, and the idea started to seem more real again. During the
international squat days of action in April 2008 several houses were
squatted in many Swedish cities, purposely during a limited time to make
public activities.

The temporary squattings continued after the action days and in the
October 2008 a house in Lund was squatted, later called
„smultronstället“ which lasted for about a month. It was publicly
squatted and the squatters intended to live there as long as possible.
As it happened the housing situation in Sweden in general was going
towards an extreme level compared to the comfortable existence most
people took for granted after years of social democratic rule in the
supposed model society. Lund, a small town mainly based around its
university, had reached a very difficult housing situation especially
for young people from the area. It was even harder for them to find a
flat than for students moving there from other towns. They quickly
gained a big and broad support among neighbors and the people from town
with their open and inviting attitude and many came by to visit. The
local media also portrayed the whole thing surprisingly good.
Negotiations were started with the municipality that hadn‘t dared to
give the eviction order yet as they were blamed for the housing
politics. But after weeks of meetings and promises from the side of the
politicians the squat was evicted without any notice before. The night
of the eviction a big demonstration was held through the city center and
shortly after, two new houses were squatted, though they were evicted
the same day.

Tired of the lies and backstabbing from the local politicians, the
occupiers decided to make a big festival to squat new houses in the town
center in a mass action, inspired the similar G13 in Copenhagen. So as
the 16th of may got closer, people from many other Swedish towns had
been invited and preparations were made. The plan was for 3 main blocks
in different colors to squat one house each. The locations of the houses
were to be kept secret until the same day and it was agreed to keep to a
line of confrontative non-violence and not to negotiate with neither
police nor politicians.

Saturday 16/5:
A few hundred people started gathering at the main square in Lund around
14:00. There where bands playing, speeches, music, food and in general a
great mood. Many wore white overalls and the 4 different blocks had
their own colors. The aim for people in the 3 blocks dressed in red,
green and white was to attempt to squat one house each and the blue
block was for supporters that wanted a low level of confrontation.

Only about 300 m after the demo started, it reached the first house the
green block was aiming for. Carrying ladders behind the front banner,
the green broke out to the right in a crossing and started rushing
towards the entrance to the yard by the house. Most of them passed a
line of horse cops by clapping and screaming to scare the horses back,
but were later closed in by the horses. In the yard some of them climbed
up a ladder trying to enter the house through a window, there was some
struggle as the cops got up to the roof. About 20 people were caught and
held by civil cops in the yard but some managed to escape through the
back door of a restaurant, back to the street.

Out in the street the cops started to close off the entrance to the yard
and make lines to keep the other blocks out. Smoke and firecrackers were
thrown against the horses which gave the cops problems to control them.
Meanwhile on the other side of the corner the red block blocked the
street from the cops and tried to storm into the yard through another
gate with big shields held by 4 people, but were blocked by a line of
cops in the doorway. The attempt to push through the line in the gate
was stopped when the cops beat the ones in the front with pepper spray
and truncheon blows to heads and legs. One person was hit unconscious
and was taken to the hospital with concussion.

After some confusion and as the cops started to kettle the remaining 2
blocks from both sides and after some waiting there was a break out
attempt by the white block, now pretty mixed up, in the opposite
direction. One of the bigger shields was taken by the pigs but with the
smaller padded shields in a line, around 150 managed to get through the
pig line that started using massive amounts of pepper spray against the
crowd. The breakout group ran out to a park and got to the goal for the
white block – an old abandoned observatory, and a ladder was put up and
a window that was smashed in. One person got into the house and a second
was on the way in as the civil cops dragged the person out (who cut up
an arm on the glass). In the confusion 2 cops fell into a hole by the
side of the house and one of them broke his foot climbing up. It turned
out to be the leader cop of the eviction of „Smultronstället“, Per Grahn
- a well known ugly face in Lund who was caught on camera as it all
happened and a video was put on youtube. 26 people were arrested, and
the main demo was called off for the day. Most people gathered in the
bar of a student union called Smålands Nation to get food and rest. Some
hours later a reclaim the streets was held outside the cop station in
support of the arrested people from that day. The mobile party continued
back to Smålands Nation where there was a nice party with the sound
system playing in the street with football and small fires on the street.

During the night a house was secretly squatted by about 60 people. It
had earlier been used as a mental hospital for young people and after
the barricades were made they spent the night in the house.

Sunday 17/5
At 1400 the second day’s demo started leaving the center with some 300
people. After about half of the way the news was announced in the
speaker wagon that a house had been occupied in a southern part of town
and cheering the demo started running in that direction. At the house,
located in the middle of a park area the cops had just started
surrounding the house and about 30 occupiers had barricaded the rest of
the house and taken to the roof. As the demo reached the park it split
up and started running into smaller groups that managed to pass past the
cop lines to get close to the house. The police was busy trying to hold
a ring around the house but couldn‘t prevent one big group that got into
the empty house next to the already squatted one and with about 60
people they closed up and made barricades.

After about an hour of stress with the pigs that tried to defend and
extend the restricted area around the houses, two cop vans drove up to
the houses with built in ladders. Horses and dogs were used to try chase
off the supporters amongst the trees, but they had little success. One
person was bitten by a dog, several where removed by the police and 30
were arrested. The pigs eventually entered into the second house using
the ladder car, evicting the occupiers who were taken away one by one
and put into a school bus that drove off and left many outside of town.
Many were under the legally punishable age of 15. The two houses were
connected through a tunnel system running all around the area and some
moved around and between the houses during the evictions. One person
broke a leg getting out but managed to escape the police.

A group of special cops climbed up the ladders to the roof where the
occupants of the first house were sitting while holding on to each other
in chains. After an hour the occupants were violently forced down one at
a time through a hole down to the attic. Pepper-spray and arm bars were
used on those that resisted the removal and several were beaten on the
way through the attic. After getting identified and taken in buses to
the cop station in Lund, all except a few were let go after being
charged with illegal entry. The others were kept in cells one day more
together with the 7 arrested from the first day.

Later that evening there was one more attempt to squat a house but the
cops were prepared and they were removed. 90 people were arrested or
taken into custody during the weekend and the liberal press was of
course desperate and outraged, trying to claim that the insides of the
houses had been wrecked and that the demonstrations were violent. The
group that took the initiative consider the weekend as a huge success.
With 2 houses squatted and 4 attempts the goal of the weekend was
achieved: to squat houses in a mass action.