matthew fuller on Sat, 25 Jan 2003 21:14:02 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-nl] ASCII .. eviction .. re-squat .. update

I'm writing this in english as most of the info on
and is in dutch. Please pass on to relevant parties.

Hello friends of ASCII ;)

This is a brief FYI relating to the eviction (and re-squatting!) of
the ASCII workplace on Thursday 23rd, and what is presently happening in
response to these events.

As you may or may not have heard, Thurs afternoon the Houstma (where
ASCII is presently located) was evicted. Eight individuals who were
in the building at the time were all placed under arrest (no "reason"
for these arrests were given). These eight people were later released
some hours later. This eviction happened even though negotiations with
the local authorities about the future use of the building were still

Later that day a member of ASCII was informed by the local police that a
number of the computers belonging to ASCII had be confiscated, the
reason being that "they believed them to be stolen". As it turned out
(after the re-squatting) only the hard drives (four in fact) and a laptop
(that belonged to a resident of the building and not ASCII) had been
taken by the police. This in itself is a big question, and one that we
have yet been given a reason for, why would the hard drives be taken (and
not the complete computers) if this was indeed a case of suspected theft?
It is our suspicion that is was the data contained on the hard drives that
was of interest to the police. We can only guess that the police are
moving to open source software, or intend starting their own internet
cafe as all that was on the hard drives was a Gentoo Linux and Debian
Linux mirrors (free and open source software archives all available for
download from the internet). One of the machines served as a streaming
server and another a print server. Our plans for "hacking the internet"
and generally being a "threat to society" we keep encrypted, stowed
away on some Data Haven off the coast of rogue state yet to be invented

An emergency meeting was called Thursday evening where a small group of
about 35 or 40 people decided a re-squat should take place, this
decision was taken on the premise that to wait would mean to lose the
building as their would most likely be anti-squatters moved in the next
day.  There was information coming in from observers in the area that
there was a strong police presence, obviously in expectation of a
re-squat.  With the possibility of confrontation and arrests, a plan
was sketched out and sometime around 21:30 or 22hrs a few people were
able to gain entrance. The police arrived within minutes leaving the
majority of people outside, those who were out bared the way to the
entrance while those inside did their best to secure the doors. The
police, realizing they were too late, took to harassing those still
outside and 16 were arrested (later to be released after 20 minutes).

Once people were in side an alert was raised, and many came to hold
the building in case of a possible return of the police.

The next day a meeting was arranged with local community people, (who
were involved with the initial squatting of the building) the house
occupants, and users of the building to discuss what should be done
presently and for future plans for the building. Much was discussed, the
general consensus being that we should plan to stay and (as was
initially planned) make of the Houtsma a public space with ongoing
activities which ASCII will be part of, providing internet access,
computer skills etc.

We are presently taking action to have our hard drives returned, and have
them returned quickly, until then we are working alongside those living
in the building and members of the local community to clean, paint and
otherwise do all the work necessary to make the Houtsma a viable social

Stay tuned .. turn out .. drop in


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