Housing Activists Shut Down Mipim

Article @ Morning Star, published 16 October 2014

Housing campaigners successfully shut down the Mipim property fair yesterday after staging a hundred-strong demonstration against property speculation.

Barriers were erected and shutters lowered over the doors of the Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre after some of the protesters attempted to enter the event.

The police reacted violently to the action and reigned truncheon blows through the crowds — whose numbers included mothers with small children.

“You’re working for them?” asked Focus E15 mother Jasmin Stone to one of the officers on the scene.

Earlier in the day the group assembled at the main front entrance to the centre and attempted to block London Mayor Boris Johnson from attending the fair.

However, the Mayor avoided being confronted by the campaigners and gained access to the venue through an alternative entrance.

Large banners reading “social housing not social cleansing” and “save our hospitals” were unfurled by members of several housing, anti-cuts and community groups.

Protesters used the opportunity to highlight the different communities being affected by the sell off of estates and beloved landmarks.

The rally featured speakers from Hackney Renters, Southwark Tenants, the Save Our Earl’s Court campaign and Unite Community.

Dede Wilson from Save our Hospitals campaign said: “We have to protest because what’s happening is that there’s massive massive building projects all over the place, when hospitals are being threatened left right and centre.

“In the case of Charing Cross — knock it down, build luxury flats.”

The former National Health Action party candidate for Hammersmith & Fulham added that the sale of the hospital would make property developers billions.

“The loss of that hospital is disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful and that’s why I’m fighting.”

The protest featured a never-ending series of chants and a song in honour of Mr Johnson to the tune of Drunken Sailor.

Demonstrators also assembled a “house of cards” made out of estate agents For Sale placards to symbolise the precariousness of many Briton’s housing situation.

War on Want member Owen Espley told the Star he was protesting at Mipim “because it’s one of the biggest property fairs in the world, where our politicians are meeting with private developers to make deals out of our sight and not in our interest.”