Activists squatting in abandoned building with cafe for homeless people evicted by police

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

An activist group who occupied a former co-working space for weeks have been evicted in dramatic fashion, despite providing weekly free coffee and events for the borough’s homeless community.

The eviction of members of Reclaim Croydon from the former Matthew’s Yard site, next to West Croydon station, lasted three hours involving many bailiffs and police officers on Thursday morning.

The group were facing up to the eviction after a High Court hearing on Tuesday and boarded up the front of the building.

Reclaim Croydon turned the site of the old Matthews Yard co-working space into a community café (Picture: Harrison Galliven)

Reclaim Croydon moved into the site on the corner of North end road over a month ago. Since then, they used the space to host community cafés, offering free hot drinks and advice to the area’s homeless community. They also ran weekly live music nights at the café using equipment donated to them.

The group first rose to local prominence after their publicised squat of the Brick by Brick head offices.

Brick by Brick, Croydon council’s controversial house building operation, is due to be closed this year after making significant losses in recent years.

Reclaim Croydon was removed from the property on George Street in mid-September. The group is also seen outside the vacant Allders building every Thursday for their Forks not Knives event.

The activist group rose to prominence following their high profile squat of Croydon council’s Brick by Brick offices (Picture: Reclaim Croydon)

Before being evicted, a member of Reclaim Croydon who did not want to give their name said: “Lawyers convinced the High Court that West Croydon Autonomous Café And Bookshop (ACAB) giving away free hot drinks and providing space for people to be creative is somehow a substantial risk to the general public.

“ACAB café is an autonomous community space offering pay what you can coffee and books, a free shop and events to the people of Croydon.

“The simple act of redistributing resources undermines the drive for profit, which is the core of capitalism. We say ‘everything for everyone’ not the greedy bosses or corrupt agents of the state.”

In a statement posted to their Instagram page, Reclaim Croydon said: “We are trying to take over as much of abandoned Croydon as possible while providing housing, community spaces and mutual aid. The café is part of Reclaim Croydon, a movement seeking radical-community based solutions to problems caused by the corruption and neglect of the council and Westminster.”

The group added: “We will not stop reclaiming Croydon and can promise the café will return soon.”

Croydon council were approached for comment but did not provide one in time for publication.

Pictured top: The group was evicted yesterday after police and bailiffs spent three hours trying to get through their barricades (Picture: Reclaim Croydon)

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