Yesterday, without a warning, the longest running and largest independent cultural center in Warsaw, Poland, Elba squat, was violently evicted and attacked by the police and security guard officers.
The guards, supported by the police, broke into the squat yesterday morning. A few people barricaded themselves to defend their possessions on the roof while supporters of the squat gathered outside to demonstrate their solidarity with the squat. Then the demonstrators, demanding legal basis for the police actions, broke the gate to get in and help the residents. The police responded with tear gas and batons.
In the evening of March 16th, on the disputed land, there was only a few people. The police withdrew, but the bodyguards along with the owners of the squat tried to negotiate with the residents.
Several people protested in front of the police station, where people were detained.
The owner of the property, Stora Enso Poland company, have issued a statement that if residents leave Elba in a week, they won’t suffer the consequences for the destruction of the fences and buildings. The company agreed to give the group a week’s time to take their things and leave the illegally occupied property. If the group is still not agreed to leave the area, the company will be forced to call the security forces to restore the legal situation.
The President of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz Waltz commented:
These places are dangerous.
So, after eight years the legendary squat may have its farewell week. A group of several dozen young people not only lived there, but also built a skatepark, organized meetings, concerts, film screenings, events where you could exchange various useful things, promoted vegetarian food, and created a bicycle workshop, in which you could learn how to repair bikes for free.
Elba was the only place independent, authentic culture spot in Warsaw. We fear that as it closes, Warsaw will be left with no place like this.
[UPDATE] The squat will be hosting a picnic party on March 18, 2012. Starting at 13:00 the Elba crew will hold a press conference regarding Friday’s events. You can also read the official statement here [Polish].
Watch videos from the spot:
PUBLISHED on March 17, 2012.
UPDATED on March 17, 2012 – press conference information added.