squatted since feb2001
Social revolution at street level
On 11 February 2001 the 1st floor, the 3rd floor, and the attic of Pretoriusstraat 28 were squatted. The roof was leaking, the attic and the third floor were inhabited by pigeons, and the second floor was being used by an asylum seeker (who had lost his case) who received food and accommodation from the owner, in return for working 60-70 hours a week for him. After the squatting action there came immediately a gang of thugs along that, thanks to the solidarity of other squatters, were fought off. Three days later the owner managed to grab the attic back because most of the residents where arrested during a solidarity action for another squat due to be evicted that day.
At the end of August 2001 the owner decided to throw the resident of the second floor onto the street after a quarrel about working conditions. Of course, the squatters intervened because housing is, after all, a right. The owner sent another gang of thugs along; these behaved so stupidly that almost all members of the gang got arrested. The story appeared a lot in the press because the thugs, in their drunkenness, started fighting with the riot police and threw furniture out of the second floor window. The district council was also "not amused" (with the owner) once we informed them about the background of the house. The resident from the second floor unfortunately lost his house because of this, and the people that came to live there after him enjoyed a no better fate. Since that time there have lived at least 10 different people (with a similar story) on that floor.
In 2002 the owner requested a "fake" building permit, which was rejected by the district council after the history of the owner had been made very clear in the public domain. Meanwhile, the fake selling of the house continued at a high pace. Since we've lived at PS28 the house has already had four "new" owners. Of course, the "new" owner is always the same, hiding behind a different business or behind a different name. The rise in the value of the house is also impressive: McCarthy bought the house in 1996 for 80,000 euro, and on the last purchase deed stands a figure of 245,000 euro.
On the 11 February 2003, precisely two years after the first squatting action, the attic was conquered back by the squatters. Its last resident had left, most likely once again because of a quarrel about the abominable working conditions in the owners company. The owner tried to use the police this time to get the squatters out, but seen the history of the house and the militant attitude of squatters that came from out of the whole city in solidarity, the police decided not to interfere.
At the beginning of 2004 the mortage-giver RABO decided (after the owner had stopped paying his mortage) to have the house sold at auction. A few days before the house was due to appear in the auction book, the house was again sold, this time to McCarthy himself, under his real name! And, because there are many dumb people out there, he has managed once again to get a mortgage, this time for around 500,000 euro. The new mortgage-giver, the ING Bank did not deem it necessary to even drop by to check the state of the house, and much less do any investigation into the background of his owner.
On the 12th March 2004, 3 year, 1 month and 1 day after the squat, the squatters of Pretoriusstraat 28 received a legal "fuck off" letter from the lawyer of the owner. Obviously they were not particularly impressed, not least because the building permit referred to in the legal letter did not actually exist. It was nevertheless worrying that this kind of "smoke signal" on the horizon was an indication that new dangers were looming.
In this period, information about the business practices of owner Joe McCarthy started to hit the public domain. The Amsterdam burrough of Oud-Zuid ended all business relation with one of his companies, because documents proving that a civil servant was bribed had emerged, and an investigation about illicit employment was started. Apparently there were intensive conflicts going on in McCarthy's shabby empire. On the 15th of march, the residents of the second floor as good as handed over the keys of their appartment to the squatters and left, because wages remained unpaid!
Eventually the squatters were summoned to appear in court where the owner demmanded their eviction based on a (non existant) building permit and the ( obviously false ) claim that he was the 'new' owner. The court date was set on the 14th of april 2004. When the lawyer of the squatting group eventually handed in her documents, basically proving the absence of any permit to build and, more important, a thorough documentation of the property history featuring Mr McCarthy as the person factually in control of the property of the building since 8 years, the owner's lawyer decided to withdraw the court summons a couple of hours before the court sitting was supposed to start.
As was said at the time, "In the Pretoriusstraat 28 there will be social rental houses and a solidarity-economy project on the ground floor...OR A GIANT RIOT AND A BLACKMARKED PROPERTY."
- February 2005: Owner requests a building permit for the house
-Mid-2005: Squatters seize the ground floor and turn it into a space for a give away shop, a people's kitchen, the squatting advice hour, and more...
- Squatters exert political pressure on the district council to remove the building permit on the basis of a law (BIBOB) that gives district councils the power to withdraw permits from mafia-types.
- November/December 2005: The bank that gave the ridiculous 500,000 euro mortgage to McCarthy (the ING) decide to sell the house at auction, because McCarthy no longer pays his mortage. However, the ING had not known PS28 was squatted! The next day, the house disappears from the auction.
- begin January 2006: District council finally decides to withdraw McCarthy's building permit on the basis of the anti-mafia law BIBOB.
- also begin January 2006: the ING bank puts the house on the auction list.
- Squatters begin actions against the auction of the house
- 23rd January 2006: ING decides AGAIN to remove the house from the auction list.
- 11th February: PS28 is five years old.
- 15th February 2006: court sitting in which Robert Leon Segaar appears to become the new owner of PS28.
OUR RIGHT TO HOUSING IS NOT FOR SALE!
OUR RIGHT TO HOUSING IS NOT A TRADEABLE OBJECT!
PS28: FIVE YEARS OF SOCIAL STRUGGLE