Radical political analysis, commentary and discussion in Wales
Dadansoddiad a thrafodaeth radicalaidd o wleidyddiaeth yng Nghymru
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New squatted social centre in Cardiff

Red and Black Umbrella squatThe Tredegar Hotel on Clifton Street has been squatted for a month now, by the Red and Black Umbrella Collective. We've had the cops and landlord break in illegally, and visit from fire fighters, arson police and South Wales Echo journalists who we told to fuck off because they are a reactionary right wing paper, and part of the vile Trinity Mirror group. Despite all this, somehow we're still here.

Cardiff hasn't had a squatted social centre since the P.A.D. in the Canton Health Centre in 2005, and not one that  that actually lasted in years, often in Cardiff squats are evicted within a week, often brutally. I guess we've been lucky, but we also have a strong core collective. Those of us living here have gone from hardly knowing each other, to a group of really good friends in no time. Since we've started here Occupy Cardiff camp has sprouted, we've taken them hot meals, and now we're even seeing a second squat opening in Cardiff in the old inland revenue building in the centre of town.

If, or rather when, we get evicted from here, I have no doubt we'll just move on to another empty building in Cardiff... The Red and Black Umbrella Collective is here to stay! Every day since being in the pub we've been working hard to restore the derelict pub. Already we've put on gigs, film nights, Spanish, Welsh and Arabic language lessons, re-started up Cardiff Anarchist Black Cross and written to political prisoners, people's kitchen and food not bombs. We're creating a social centre here, and we've had an amazing amount of visitors and support. The youth are excited, those older who have seen this kind of thing in Cardiff before have nostalgic smiles, and are inspired when they see what we're doing. One of the most dangerous things to the government in my opinion is when people realise they can look after themselves. We don't need their help.

The building was empty for five years before we came here, the pub closed down because someone got stabbed in the eye and the place was heaving with drugs. The community remembers this, and the reaction to what we're doing has been almost all positive (one woman was worried about the price of her house dropping because of us 'anarchists') The rest of the people on Clifton Street seem to love us, we're doing something different, providing a cultural hub, encouraging participation and not asking for money for any of it. David Cameron wanted a big society and we'll give him one!

It's been amazing the amount of stuff, and skills that have been donated - some builders fixed the big hole in the roof, we've been given all the cutlery, plates, beds, sofas, gas heaters, plumbing and electricity skills we needed. The place is nowhere near done, but it's gone from having no floorboards, no water, no electric, a jungle in the courtyard, mould in the kitchen, to somewhere we feel quite comfortable in.

Over the summer I travelled around Europe, one of the coolest things I saw was a huge squat called Kukutza in Bilbao; it was an inspiration to say the least and lit a fire in me, a desire to open a squat which gave something to the community. They had a crèche, art studios, bar, stage, lighting, vegetarian kitchen (in meat-mad Basque country!) climbing wall, and a great welcoming spirit. The place was huge, but under threat of eviction. We helped them make banners for a protest against the eviction of Kukutza which would see un-wanted flats take the place of the squat....

Weeks after arriving home from my summer travels I saw the eviction of Kukutza on the internet, police had raided the squat and shot protestors with rubber bullets, the building was then demolished. It was heart breaking, but there is something more than bricks and cement to a community... I'm glad we came back and have started this in Cardiff now, but it's not the building that's important, it's the group of people you’re with...