Riot police kick occupiers from beloved 12 Bar

Article @ Morning Star, published 6 February 2015

Riot police violently evicted a squat of housing activists yesterday, “smashing” through the back door of a former cult bar in London’s Soho.

The two-week occupation of 12 Bar club ended in dramatic scenes as bailiffs and police forced 20 people out of the former music venue in the early morning.

Bohemians 4 Soho member Danny Gardner told the Star that the eviction started at 9.30am when occupiers were starting their day.

“We were expecting something earlier but it didn’t happen so we went back to sleep,” said Mr Gardner.

“They busted into the building, we asked for help but …”

A Metropolitan Police spokesman argued that upon arrival “the majority (of occupiers) left voluntarily and without incident,” but one person was arrested and taken into custody.

Footage of the eviction was streamed live from inside the bar by members of Occupy London, showing people shouting as a door was kicked in.

A man’s voice cried: “There’s people attached to the door — you are going to kill someone if you do that.

“You really don’t want to kill people who are trying to save Soho. Wait for court tomorrow morning, then you can assess if you can kill us or not.”

Bohemians 4 Soho took over 26 Denmark Street in late January after the bar shut down due to a joint Crossrail and Consolidated Developments gentrification project that has forced the closure of the world-famous rock hangout along with shops, cafes and band rehearsal rooms.

Activists have battled eviction attempts, attended court hearings and endured harassment from unidentified security staff.

Despite this, the evenings at the squat were filled with music and entertainment events, including a supporting performance by folk musician Frank Turner.

An emergency hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice was set for yesterday afternoon by the Bohemians’ legal team so the group could return to the occupation but was adjourned until 10am today.

A march through Soho was expected to take place last night with local residents, sex workers and other housing activists uniting in solidarity with Bohemians 4 Soho.

There were also unconfirmed rumours of a planned two-day street party on Denmark Street.