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Jiří Leschtina: These are not squatters

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Taking over of the house, fast police intervention, prompt courts – this all looks like a thwarting blow to Czech squatters. However, it was more of a theatre performance. On behalf of the police, as well as, those taking over the house who have very little in common with the real squatting.

Why did they let everybody know what they were planning? Why did they call a meeting under the slogan: “How to take over a house”? In the meantime, they advertised, which house it is going to be exactly. Maybe so the town hall could find out that the owner does not wish to have intruders in the ruin. It was probably not only the police management that was seeking media attention but also the people who consider themselves squatters.

Real squatters, though, take over the dilapidated buildings slowly and inconspicuously as autumn mould. They try to get rid of the mess, make amendments and unfold their subculture fast before the authorities notice. They also hope the owner of the building will approve of their presence or will not care at least.

Those evicted from Milada villa appeal for the right to dignified housing that they consider to be above private ownership. It is the same principle under which the communists in the 1950s to move in proletarians into the villas of the factory owners. Real squatters in Europe occupy houses under the slogan of fight against the speculators and are aware of its transience. Reconciled to the fact that the owner has the right to send them packing at any point.

Squatting feeds on resistance to any kind of regime. Its followers would never get mixed up with the politics. Milada residents not only angered a significant part of the population by accepting accommodation for CZK 1 from Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb but they only became puppets in some power game, of which the episode with the police special squad in Apolinářská was a part.

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