Above: Riot police enter abandoned church occupied by squatters following first eviction
Above: Residents of Point Saint-Charles speak to CKUT about the ASC/CSA and the police intervention that took place Saturday
Last Saturday afternoon, riot police used clubs and pepper spray to evict squatters from two buildings in the Point Saint Charles neighbourhood.
The first building was once home to a candle factory, but it is now abandoned and slated for demolition.
Developers plan to build condominiums on the site, but activists have other ideas.
The organizers of the Autonomous Social Centre (ASC) attempted to squat the building and establish it as community hub last week.
Spokespeople for the ASC, who declared themselves anticapitalist and non-hierarchical in organization, said the social centre would include a housing project, an independent media centre, and a bike repair workshop, among other projects.
Last Friday — just one day before police shut down the ASC — hundreds of people gathered in Point Saint Charles to march in support of the building’s occupation.
“We have occupied this building because we lack adequate and accessible spaces and infrastructure and autonomous social projects…because PSC is on the front-lines of gentrification, because we have no other means to get what we need, what we want in this authoritarian society,” a spokesperson said, as squatters draped a banner reading “Liberated Space” on the former factory.
The squatters have been building support in the neighbourhood over the past two years by organizing services including a communal bike network.
But this didn’t prevent riot police from forcing the activists out of the building on the day of its official opening to the public.
Immediately following the eviction, the squatters marched through the neighbourhood with demonstrators who had assembled for an emergency show of support.
They attempted to occupy a second building — an abandoned church — before police, who were deployed throughout the neighbourhood, once again dispersed them with pepper spray and clubs.
A long-time resident of Point Saint Charles who identified herself as Anik gave CKUT an eye-witness account of events that took place Saturday afternoon.
“What happened is that the squad came up and a fifteen year old was standing on his bike and they came up with the shield to make him move and they hit him in the face… and I guess his nose was broken ’cause he was bleedling heavily”
A spokesperson for the ASC told CKUT on Saturday that organizers were disappointed by the immediate shut-down of the squat.
She added that “the project is not dead,” but declined to offer details about the plans of ASC organizers.