All the latest reports and archive action from the 121 Centre in Brixton:
121 evicted: read full report here
(update: 14th Aug 1999)
Archive: this report 4th June 1999
Hi everyone. Sorry its been so long between updates, but we are glad to report that that the London 121 Autonomous Centre remains in the hands of the community.
What we are not so happy to report is that Lambeth Council is continuing its attacks on the residents it purports to represent. In the last few months a number of schools and libraries have been slated to close, large numbers of squats have been evicted and community centres, migrant advice centres and adventure playgrounds shut. In the meantime the New Labour councillors have voted themselves 100% pay rises and announced a further £250 000 investment in CCTV spy cameras.
All is not lost though and local resistance has intensified. Disabled users of the Centre for Independent Living (CIL) have occupied their space and maintained services without council funding for a number of months. A Lambeth Save Our Schools group has united parent, student and teacher opposition to education cuts and staged a number of demos and disrupted council meetings. Friends of Lambeth Libraries have been doing a similar job with library users. Friends and users of the 121 have held a number of events including a 12 hour street party on Railton Road. 12 issues of the excellent South London Stress newsheet have been distributed throughout Lambeth as well as a pamphlet "The Real Brixton Challenge" which attacks gentrification and another detailing 1980s squat resistance on Effra Parade.
In the face of this resistance the council has adopted a "wait and see" policy in the hope of out lasting its opponents. This policy has seen a drop off in the amount of activity in the area as the threats to the schools, 121, CIL, etc no longer seem quite so immediate. However there is no doubt in anyone's mind that this is merely a delaying tactic and that the council still intends to gut Lambeth of it "undesirables". Whilst a certain degree of "battle fatigue" has set in at 121 there are tentative steps being taken towards reopening the centre with cafes and gigs already happening. Round the clock occupation of the building continues.
If you want to forward messages of support or obtain copies of the South London Stress and other pamphlets then email us at this address. You can read some of the Stress's at the 121 website at http//i.am/121centre
If you want to get involved in the centre or hold an event there then either email us, call the centre on 0171 274 6655 or visit at 121 Railton Road, Brixton. If you are interested in contacting the Centre for Independent Living then call them on 0171 671 8892. Lambeth Save Our Schools can be contacted at 0181 674 3490 and Friends of Lambeth Libraries on 0171 587 3517.
(report: 12th April 1999)
It was raining at 2 O'Clock in Brixton. By 3 the sun had come out and a honking sound system was set up outside one of Britain's longest running squats. This was a street party with a difference. No need for daring traffic stopping tactics the roads were just simply barracaded and the party kicked off with strong Ragga tunes.
The 121 has been an anarchist centre under different guises for 18years. Now officially waiting for eviction from the council it has held out with a combination of round the clock occupation and enough 'front' to keep the baliffs at bay. After nearly 90 days after they were due to be evicted it seemed the perfect excuse for a street celebration. The police weren't going to walk into any trouble on Railton Road and kept an exceedingly low profile.
With the sun came volleyball, face painting, info stalls, free food , punk bands, sofas to chill out on and an across the board music policy. The Fiat billboard ad opposite didn't stay clean long but became the place to write what people wanted. The crowd of up to 500 were also given a saucy strip show c/o 121 striptease crew from their own balcony. By 5 the party was in full swing with a wild d'n'bass set. As night drew in fires were lit in the street and the Ragga returned hard and heavy till 11. There was some strange echoes and recontextualising of Railton Road's history here. The locals looked on with a mix of curiosity and indifference. All are welcome but you know that the audience is white/euro anarchists.
Maybe dancing in the fire isn't such a good idea as two drunk revellers found out a bit too late, no harm done though. The 121 crew worked on into the night to clear things up splendidly. The Off licence, normally quiet, did a roaring trade as did the sleepy Harmony pub. The Snackmaster next door joined in with their own DIY system playing some lovely old reggae and served up food for hungry party crowd. A brilliant time was had by all and Railton Road will never feel same again. The space had been reclaimed.......
report by Tom
Press release from the 121 Centre dated: Mon 22nd March 1999
Here is the latest message from the occupied 121 Centre in Brixton. London. We have now been in occupation, behind barricades, for 54 days but are expecting an eviction to happen at any time. The case was sneakily moved up from the jurisdiction of the County Court to the High Court last week so now the stakes are a little bit higher. In the past 9 weeks we have maintained a continuous 24 hour occupation of the 121 Centre with free meals some days, video nights, a roller disco, a vegan cafe on Friday 19th with music from Steve Cope and Alex and other sundry entertainments and practical activity.
We have also maintained an external battle for 121 with a short-lived occupation of the Leader of Lambeth Council's office, fucked off the cops and bailiffs with barricades streets, held two puppet shows in the High Street, maintained a scurrilous weekly newspaper, the SOUTH LONDON STRESS that gets distributed on Sat mornings in Brixton and locally and held a great Street Drink-In to defy the new council/police ban on drinking alcohol in the Brixton area.
This Friday, 26th March, there is another Vegan Caff at the 121 from 8pm onwards. All welcome. Entertainers and performers are invited for impromptu and spontaneous playing to the crowd.
It has to be said that we are wearing down. The initial support was great (thank you all) but recently, to be honest, it's been shit. This is as much to do with us, as with anyone else because there has been to few of us to keep up with all the work.
The first few weeks were very intense with a million things to do every minute. It's impossible for anyone to keep up that level of activity over a long period of time. There have been problems having enough people around in the day time to just be inside the Centre.
Somedays, some of us have been stuck inside the building all day and night unable to leave. Simple things like keeping up with phone messages, looking out for the bailliffs and police, daily cooking, maintaining barricades, updating phonetrees, producing the South London Stress etc etc take up a lot of mental energy. We also have outside lives too (and some of us have jobs to attend to as well!).
It's becoming impossible for us to keep the Centre open. WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT NOW.
If you've phoned recently and not got a really great and coherent answer - we apologise. Our internal meetings have stopped happening so communication even amongst ourselves in messy. But hey, don't take this all the wrong way. We are still here, still waiting for the fuckers to have a go. HELP US BE A PAIN IN THE ARSE!
The 121 Centre has been squatted for 18 years. It means a lot to a lot of people all over the world and to us too. We have maintained an anarchist community space for all those years and we don't want to leave the place without being a major pain in the ass to the Council, Copppers and Bailliffs. To this end - this is how we need your help:
CAPPUCINO COUNCIL GIVES 121 CENTRE FROTH
(update from the 121 Centre dated: Thurs 19th February 1999)
Meeting with Council was bullshit with them offering us their New Labour vision of the 90's. ie you can rent a building from us but we need our 'asset' back. They never referred to 121 as anything other than an 'asset'.
They gave us a list of empties for rent which we told them we'd pass to Brixton Squatters Aid and thanks ! So the situation is that 121 waits in all probability for a surprise eviction..we will activate the phone tree when this happens. The bailiffs have said they wont tell us the date. The cops have said that they will inform us of the date but who knows?? Who cares?? we wait..wait with us...
YOU CAN HELP AT THE 121...
So, we are still in 24hr occupation behind barricades but we need support from people to be in the place. It really is coming down to the same 2 or 3 people being at 121 all day some days and this is hard work for them. They need light and space and relaxation time.
If you can spend three hours minimum any one day then come down and hang around!. We have a rota so sign up. Small scale events are welcome too. Phone with ideas and we can publicise them around the space and community. Anything from coming down to cook a communal meal, to singing songs, showing movies, puppet shows, stand-up comedy, cocktail parties, slumber parties-whatever you can come up. We need to have a lot of activity at 121 because we need the place to feel alive again. Come and down anyway and check it out. We've had endless back and forth over the 'door policy' idea.
Initially when eviction seemed imminent we had a strict policy of only letting people that we knew or who could be vouched for. Now we want to fuck the paranoia and invite every who wants to help out. Phone first for confirmation of situation but come down. Bring friends, big posses. We don't promise a mega-blasting 24 hour party because our priority is too defend the building but come and enjoy yourself..we have a jobs list if you want something practical to do (from glam barricade work to dull duties of leafleting neighbours, flyposting, cooking, cleaning the toilet.etc). There's life in the old dog yet and remember Meetings every MONDAY at 121 at 7pm (very approx.) and finally a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has been helping out internationally !
we love you, the 121, Brixton LONDON UK
121 EVICTION STARTS:
(update from the 121 Centre dated: Thurs 11th February 1999)
Hiya..latest news from here is that the meeting between the 121 Centre and Lambeth Council (Wednesday 10th) to discuss plans to save the 121 Centre came to nothing. The Council had nothing new to say to us other than that we can rent a new building from them. It seems that the meeting was a face-saving exercise so that the Council can say that 'they tried' and then henceforth blame any public order stuff or large expenditure on evicting the 121 on 'the squatters'.
So...we are back at square one....yesterday we received a new letter from the bailiffs saying that they would evict this Friday (12th) but we have assurances (ho!ho!) from Leader of the Council Jim Dickson that THERE WILL BE NO EVICTION THIS FRIDAY. You may have heard that we will be resisting eviction on this date but please ignore it. Best bet if you want up-to-date info is to phone the Centre on 0171-274-6655 for latest news.
What we can expect is that the eviction will take place sometime soon so please keep us in mind. It's a waiting game and they know that this tactic wears us down. We still need help defending the building. This is now come down to a situation that if people turn up and no-one knows them or recognises them, then they probably won't be let in. Sorry. Although this is a fucked-up situation..too many 'strange' people have been hanging out asking questions and we want to keep the defences pretty secret. On the one hand this makes good sense. On the other hand it means we are occasionally turning away bona-fide good and wonderful people. We can only apologise. We hope people appreciate this...it's hard times and we are also very exhausted what with holding the building 24 hours a day and with the back and forth, not too mentioning all the banging and sawing bits of wood etc.
If you do want to help..you can either arrange to come down with someone that we know..or talk to us and we'll suss it out.(this last bit mainly applies to out of town posses). We also need people to continue hassling the council via the e-mail network esp. Jim Dickson - see our web-site http://i.am/121centre
We need people to bring down vegan food esp vegetables, large amounts of wood, scaffold stuff, acro-props, polyprop, sitex doors + windows, in fact, anything useful to urban building defence etc
On eviction day we need -people outside the building and people to bring puppets, music, firebreathing, wild and wonderful imaginative eviction-busting tactics..anything to get in their way. We had a lot of fun fucking off the eviction last Monday...join in the fun / defence. Once again big big thanks to those who have helped out (from wads of cash to a delivery of vegan ice-cream)..you are all heroes.. xx 121 Centre, 121 Railton Rd, Brixton SE24 LONDON PH: 0171-274-6655 E- email@example.com
121 Statement: 9th Feb 99
As you may already know, the 121 Centre in Brixton, London has been awaiting eviction by the bailiffs and police since Thurs 28th Jan. Finally, we had heard that the bailiffs (who wrote us a letter!) were coming to evict on MONDAY 8th FEB at 9pm.
Since the Centre is now heavily barricaded we decided to maintain a street presence outside to deter eviction and have a few people inside the building to operate the emergency air-raid siren, sound system and to be locked-on to various secret defences should the bailiffs (and cops) enter the place.
People gathered outside from 6am and put into place materials for street barricades which we decided to throw up on the arrival of any police and bailiffs. It was all a bit spontaneous ut we finally had to act when a police car arrived to see what the early morning activity was. In a split second we deciced to act and people dragged wood, chairs, old fridges and cookers, metal and other stuff across two parts of Railton Rd and two parts of Chaucer Rd that completely barricaded in the 121 Centre from any approaching cars. The five cops present were a bit baffled and just watched us assembling the defences. At that time we didn't know what to expect - the cops might have easily sent three vans of riot police and beaten us off as their were about 70 of us max - but we waited and the sound system played wonderful hip-hop (La Haine style!!) and neighbour brought out hot tea for us all (bless her!).
At 8.30am, Inspector Craggs (Chief of Operations of the Brixton Area) approached and we assembled round to hear what he had to say. He said (and later put in writing) that there would be no eviction today as he had spoken to both Lambeth Council (the buildings 'owners') and the bailiffs and had asked them to postpone any eviction. He said that the Council and bailiffs thought that they would be just come down, kick the door in and seal the place up again. He had then probably told them that it wouldn't be that easy and that they couldn't just phone up the police to send in riot cops if they found our resistance to heavy. He then said that the police and council were meeting on Tuesday at 2pm to discuss the eviction of the centre. We asked him to give us the names of the Council people he was dealing with and he went away until 9.30pm, our barricades still blocking Railton Rd.
When he came back, he had in tow, Chief Inspector Des Stout (the top cop of the Brixton area !!). They handed over the names and then said that there main priority was to open up the roads. We have a choice - take the barricades down and we get to keep them (!!!) or they could clear them with dumper trucks and we would lose them. He stood far away whilst we decided that (a) NO EVICTION was likely that day....(b)we would keep our barricades for another day and (c) we would occupy the council chambers. It was a very polite and surreal scene indeed. Anarchists taking down their barricades for another day and the police just really interested in keeping the peace..
About 30 of us went to the Council, 10 stayed behind and some others went to help three local squats move their stuff as the bailiffs had started to evict 3 squats on Coldharbour Lane, Brixton. At the Town Hall we stormed in , ran around until we found the office of the Leader of the Council, Jim Dickson (although he was absent and just an underling was there) and started a set-to with the security guards (who were seriously pissed off and taking it very personally and throwing people around). Some people briefly played with some files and others just milled around but the security guards were making things a bit difficult with their non-stop macho crap, one person thrown so hard against a desk that it cracked! Eventually sirens were heard and we saw a lot of cops running towards us. We shut the door on them and locked it but a security guard shoved us out of the way and the cops burst in. Oh dear. They grabbed the people nearest them and smashed them around a lot, cuffing anf arresting them and made everyone leave. Despite the cops enthusiasm for 'criminal damage' charges (although it was only the cops and guards that broke anything) the underling didn't want anything to happen apart from everyone getting thrown out. The arrested were officially 'de-arrested' and let go and the cops even gave us our banner back.
We went back to the organised safe-space and licked our wounds and discussed the situation. Then then the Council phoned us offering us a 'No Agenda' meeting with them at our convenience and we decided to meet with them on Wednesday at 5pm.
It really is a weird situation with lots of players positions seemingly in flux. The Cops seem to want to keep it all quiet and with their ears to the ground know all about our barricading. The Council seem to have forgotten that people like us don't just walk away from our social centres and we seem to have moved into a game of political chess and suprised ourselves at what we can do. We had done a lot of local work with positive results and maybe that's what frightened the cops into meeting with the council and postponing the eviction.
So , we wait for ther outcome of the meeting and see what the council have to say (they had previously ignored our request for a meeting with them). Ultimately we are still facing an eviction and the cops now know that we will resist. It could be very heavy. Right now we are still having to maintain a 24 hour occupation of the place (which is hard work and taking up a lot of energy with sleepovers and cooking etc) and we know that from now on any eviction attempt will be a suprise to us. But we press on. Today was a good start.
Please keep e-mailing the council (see website 'http://i.am/121centre'). Please spread this news around your own networks to encourage support Please get in touch (0171-274-6655 or 'firstname.lastname@example.org') about how you can help - there are many different ways - physical support,donations of money and food, etc)
and finally a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has been helping out internationally ! LOve and Rage, the 121, Brixton LONDON UK
121 EVICTION EMERGENCY:
(newsletter from the 121 Centre dated: Thursday 14th January 1999)
The 121 Autonomous Centre in Brixton, South London faces imminent eviction after losing a court case today .
The Centre has been in continuous occupation of the premises since 1981 and the space is used for an Infoshop, local squatters aid, regular cafes, community meetings, regular parties and music shows, a print resource, an archive and the meeting ground for Anarchist Black Cross, Anarquist and other radical groups. It has become an internationally famous centre with numerous visitors locally and worldwide popping by. It's impossible to list the number of activities, campaigns, mutual aid and self-help projects that have happened in our 18 year history. If the 121 goes it will be missed not just by the locals but by a whole host of people worldwide.
The lost court case centred on adverse possession (the 12 year rule) but was lost on two slight technicalities. Right now, we are taking legal advice on presented an appeal challenging the judge's decision. It's not much of a hope but we're hoping something could come out of it.
The most important thing is we will need your help. We need this news spread out to as many people as possible INTERNATIONALLY and to enlist your help. There is a meeting this Monday 18th January 1998 at the Centre at 7pm to discuss strategy (+the Appeal and resisting eviction). If you can, come along with ideas and resources etc
The full address is: 121 Centre, 121 Railton Road, Brixton. SE24 Our phone numbers are 0171-274-6655 or 0171-326-0353 (ansaphone) Right now (the court case was only a few hours ago!), there is no strategy worked out until we find out about the possibility of an Appeal tomorrow. In the next few days we will be sorting out what we need to do as well as printing leaflets and starting local work. Ideas, suggestions, offers of help requested and in the end, if the appeal fails, barricades and bodies and people skilled at building defence. We will let you know later. For now. love and solidarity to you all
The 121 Collective
Info: check out the 121 website http://i.am/121centre