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'Confrontation completes squatters' CV'

1 June 2008 - Recently, there has been a lot of talk about squatters who would use excessive violence. According to sociologist Eric Duivenvoorden, there is at most a temporary rise, caused by a generation change in the squatters' movement.

Last week, the windows of Mayor Job Cohen's house were smashed after the police had unexpectedly evicted a squat in Oost. Earlier, squatters would have left booby traps in buildings that were to be evicted, but squatters denied this.

NRC Handelsblad quotes squatter Johnny who says that the police have become more repressive. "In the past, you'd be held at the police station for one day for a paint bomb; now the standard is three days".

Sociologist Duivenvoorden is not impressed. "One or three days, that doesn't make much of a difference. As soon as the squat movement in Germany surfaces, some sort of military operation takes place and squatters may go to jail for years".

On the other hand, squatters would be more violent in Germany. For example, it is inconceivable in the Netherlands that Molotov cocktails would be used.

However, there might be a temporary rise in violence: "When generation changes take place in the squat movement, you always see a modest increase in violence. Squatters that are about to step out often raise some hell. Your squatters' CV isn't complete without a confrontation with the police".

The debate on introducing a ban on squatting has surfaced again, but Duivenvoorden does not expect this will happen. "For the Netherlands have been struggling with a combination of housing shortages and unoccupied buildings since the Second World War. For cities, squatting remains the most effective way to fight buildings being left unoccupied".

Source: NRC Handelsblad / Karel Berkhout. Photo: police in front of the evicted building in Oost


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