Stop the auction: Rozbrat is here to stay!

Stop the auction: Rozbrat is here to stay!

  • wtorek, 25 czerwiec 2019
Bailiff Bartosz Guzik will surely remember this past Monday afternoon for a long time to come. According to media broadcasts, a couple hundred people rallied on the street outside of his office. Poznań residents came out to protest the bailiff’s plans to auction off the land where Rozbrat squatted social center has been based for the past 25 years.  

So far, bailiff Guzik has been decisive and even overzealous in his actions. He is moving to auction off Rozbrat’s land ignoring the fact that there are other on-going court proceedings concerning the same area. The Rozbrat collective filed for adverse possession of the land. The court has not yet ruled in this case, but Guzik was not planning to wait for the verdict. Seeing the massive support for Rozbrat at Monday’s rally, the bailiff should reconsider.

 

Monday’s rally showed that people came out not only to defend Rozbrat as the oldest squat in Poland, but also as an important social organizing space for the people of Poznań. Speakers at the rally pointed to the Rozbrat collective’s role in supporting various social, political and cultural initiatives in the city. One such group, The Greater Poland Association of Tenants (Wielkopolskie Stowarzyszenie Lokatorów), which called public attention to illegal evictions in the city, held its first meetings at Rozbrat. With the support of another group, the Worker’s Initiative (OZZ Inicjatywa Pracownicza), a trade union founded at Rozbrat, cleaning staff hired by the local district court (sic!) were finally able to get back their unpaid wages. A local environmental activist (from the Kąpielisko Collective) and a teacher involved in organizing the recent teacher’s strike also spoke at the rally, calling attention to the fact that their grassroots initiatives, like many others, received help from the Rozbrat collective when the city government and politicians showed no interest whatsoever in the problems of the people of Poznań. Speakers stressed that when others said nothing could be done, it was the Rozbrat anarchists who stepped up and did something.

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Besides Rozbrat, part of the land slated for auction is currently occupied by community gardens (ROD Bogdanka). These gardens were privatized without the community’s involvement. The city, meanwhile, has not taken any steps to stop the auction and save the gardens. Another speaker to take the microphone at the rally on Monday was an elder of the community gardens. The gardens are not going anywhere, he told the crowd. The Rozbrat collective and the community gardeners have joined forces to keep social ownership of the area.

During the rally, a delegation of protesters entered the bailiff’s office to hand him the most tangible evidence of the wide social support for Rozbrat in Poznań. In a mere few days, more than 3 thousand signatures were collected under a petition in defence of Rozbrat. The bailiff received the petition, but refused to comment. Protestors told the bailiff that he was on a fast track to igniting social conflict. If you sell Rozbrat, you’ll only be buying trouble, said one protestor who handed him the signatures. In a tense voice, with the sound of drums and chanting outside his windows, the bailiff said no date has been set for the auction.

An auction of Rozbrat’s land and of the adjacent community gardens would seriously endanger one of the city’s most important green enclaves – another important element in this conflict. These spaces of nature help to ventilate the city, clearing out air pollution. They also balance water circulation and cool the air. It’s clear that the developers’ lobby is taking aggressive steps to eliminate this green enclave in order to start construction there. Poznań mayor, Jacek Jaśkowiak, who won the city elections on a pro-environment agenda, has thus far remained silent.

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Monday’s rally sent out a message, loud and clear, that Rozbrat is an important place for many Poznań residents. Over the past 25 years, the Rozbrat community often proved troublesome for local politicians, officials, and those who represent big capital. In effect, the squatted social center has firmly carved out is place on the map of Poznań as a center for grassroots organizing. Neither Rozbrat, nor the social movement, which has grown around it, are for sale. Monday’s rally was just a preview of further actions in defence of Rozbrat. Rozbrat is here to stay!

 

 

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