In farcical scenes, housing campaigners had the table they were using for a street stall seized by police. In response they demanded:
The Focus E15 table is innocent – release it now!
Focus E15 began as a campaign by a small number of young mums facing eviction from their hostel, but has now grown into a wider pressure group campaigning for more secure house-ownership. For the last two years, they have been running a weekly street stall as part of their work raising awareness of the social cleansing being inflicted on swathes of London housing estates.
The Carpenter’s Estate in the borough of Newham presently has 400 empty properties. Focus E15 have called for Carpenter’s to be repopulated, particularly given that 5,000 people in Newham are housed in temporary accommodation. The pressure group fears that Newham Council, run by Labour, is trying to empty the estate so that the land can be sold to developers.
At the start of December, the council moved to close down the Carpenter’s Estate Tenants’ Management Organisation (CTMO) on the grounds of insolvency, despite the council being both the only funder and the only creditor for the CTMO. Staff have been relocated within Newham Council without the agreement of the CTMO board, meaning an uncertain future for the community centre they ran, which offered IT facilities, a meeting room and a soup kitchen.
Understandably, this has led to relations between the council and the campaign becoming even more strained and could explain the council’s decision to call in the police against Focus E15. It is also quite possible that there was a desire to ‘sanitise’ the streets of Stratford ahead of a visit to the area by Labour’s candidate for London Mayor, Sadiq Khan.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) December 5, 2015
— Stop City Airport ✈ (@StopCityAirport) December 5, 2015
Whatever the reason, a council enforcement official, together with several police, approached the Focus E15 stall about 40 minutes before they were due to pack up and demanded that they leave. The campaigners pointed out that no-one had complained about their stall, the street was very wide and spacious, and they had been there every week for two years with no hint of a problem. However, the council official was insistent and the police used their physical heft to remove the table by force. As one Focus E15 supporter noted:
It was so ridiculous and absurd seeing the police and council seizing our campaign table and bundling it into a police van as if it were a person being taken to a police station. At the same time we recognise the seriousness of being targeted by the council in this way, but we will not be intimidated. And we want our table back, Newham!
Already, people have been suggesting ways of supporting Focus E15 in the furniture department:
— Cam Jarvis (@cam_jarvis) December 6, 2015
There have even been hints circulating that Focus E15 may have lots and lots of tables to choose from next Saturday. Feel free to help if you can.
Featured image via Twitter @FocusE15
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?