Report from New London Mutual Aid about continued resistance to police sweeps of encampments.
After a protracted struggle and media firestorm in both print and radio for weeks leading up to the December 10th deadline to clear out, yet another tent city was destroyed. To read a report from last October, go here. The Waterford Police lied about their intentions both to our negotiator and to a reporter with The Day (our local paper). As a show of good faith, and because the camp had largely been vacated by all but a few holdouts, the decision was made to stand down. Against their word, while residents were away, members of We Ken Do It, a local contractor, and Waterford Police department, lead by Lieutenant Balestracci, (who had said repeatedly to our negotiator that he was committed to a peaceful resolution and that the 10th was a goal not a deadline, and told a reporter that they would be visiting to clean the “fringes of the camp”) showed up with chainsaws and began tearing the last remaining pallet house to pieces. Fans of words and definitions might recognize one of the last remaining dwellings on the site as not the “fringes of the camp.”
This treachery earned WPD a lot of condemnation and again more negative media attention. It also generated a lot of interest and awareness about the cruelty of such actions. Their actions even drew criticism from folks who usually hold very pro-police perspectives. This controversy was followed up with an in person meeting with our negotiator and the first selectman of Waterford (their mayor equivalent). The tone of the meeting was an explanation of our reasoning for why encampments provide an essential role in times of crises and that we have no intention of heeding the law and would absolutely continue to openly break it to help people.
With a very clear message that open encampments would not be tolerated, and without sufficient logistical capacity to occupy and defend squats, despite dozens of vacant homes and buildings in this area, we had to adapt. Donations and words of encouragement were coming in from all over. We opened a new side branch of our collective that would specialize in providing hidden pallet houses for those that wanted them. We called this new branch the “Autonomous Community Assistance Bureau” (ACAB).
We have been receiving more requests for shelters and have been building them by night all over the county and even one in Rhode Island. These typically only take one night to build and range in cost from 100-300 dollars depending on materials used. These structures can hold the weight of a person on their roof. They shrug off snow like no tent ever could. They can be insulated and even have windows and locking doors. The exact variant is determined by the resident.
These structures aren’t as nice as a purpose built house, but they are a massive and viable form of harm reduction. They give people a safe refuge of their own that can weather anything nature will throw at them. We have been crowdfunding for building materials and also soliciting donations of already existing materials as a means of building trust and avoiding unnecessary engagement with the monetary system.
We have put out a basic how to guide for anyone interested in pallet homes and will be providing a video tutorial as soon as possible. This technique is easily and cheaply duplicatable. If you want to start a similar project in your area, please feel free to reach out to us on our Facebook page or via email at [email protected]
If you are wanting to donate to help fund our efforts locally, our GoFundMe is https://gofund.me/26229837
Thanks for reading, and solidarity from the mostly friendly anarchists of the New London Mutual Aid Collective