Fourteen people were arrested in Amsterdam yesterday after a fight broke out between rival groups of squatters.
On Sunday afternoon, one group of squatters occupied two shops in Kinkerstraat. The shops had stood empty for years. The neighborhood is fighting plans by the owner to build a hotel instead. Since these plans would also lead to the disappearance of inexpensive rental apartments, squatters decided to occupy the building.
When they did, builders from another property belonging to the same owner, challenged the squatters. Police intervened and determined the squatters have a legal right to squat the building.
In the evening, a group of 20 men tried to enter the building — claiming it was theirs. A huge fight ensued, in which the challenging group attacked the squatters with crowbars. The fighters are said to speak Russian.
Police arrested members of both groups, but handed control over the building back to the original squatters. Police is still trying to determine whether the fighters were sent by the building’s owner.
At this time those arrested are still in custody.
When certain conditions are met, squatting is legal in The Netherlands.
Radio Netherlands explains:
The squatters’ movement in the Netherlands used to enjoy a degree of popularity during the 1970s and 1980s, when many ordinary families were driven to occupying vacant properties due to the alarming housing shortages that have existed since the Second World War.
In spite of the continuing chronic housing shortages in the main Dutch cities, squatting has become marginalized in the last few decades.
Recently several right-wing politicians have called for squatters’ rights to be curbed.
– Source: Radio Netherlands, Jan. 19, 2008
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