March for Homes protest brought together council tenants, private renters, many local housing campaigns and groups from across London, trade unions and others, to demand the homes Londoners can actually afford to live in.
Organisers had planned two routes for the march, one from Shoreditch, for the East/North London campaigners, another from Elephant & Castle for those of us on this side of the river. We were pleased to see many Southwark residents and campaigners there, as Southwark, courtesy of our 'elected representatives', is being 'regenerated' left right and centre. Fellow campaigners from Lambeth, Lewisham and Greenwich were also there, many telling painfully similar, if not identical, stories of residents' struggles to keep their homes in spite of the local authorities' and developers' greed. We spectacularly missed out on all of the speeches but you can hear Tom Chance of Green Party and see some of the video footage on London SE1 website here.
The march itself was ridiculously over-policed. Protesters were filmed, countless 'Liaison Officers' were there, mingling, then more 'guarding' the procession.
The South London contingent was joined by the people from FocusE15 campaign, New Era Estate, Save Earls Court, Our West Hendon and many many others at the City Hall. More speeches re-iterated the madness of what is happening in London, where perfectly liveable council homes are being demolished so they can be redeveloped as property investments of the super-rich global elite, where Londoners are being pushed further and further out of the city, where thousands of homes are empty while homelessness continues to rise, demanding an immediate end to this, introduction of rent caps, building of more council homes etc.
When we got home, we found out that a group of activists visited the neighbouring luxury development, 'One Tower Bridge' and temporarily occupied one of the empty apartments. Meanwhile, some 200 people reclaimed one of the blocks on the Aylesbury, where Southwark Council had evicted all of the residents so that the new, 'luxury' (aka totally unaffordable to anyone who lives in Southwark now) apartments can be built instead.
Yesterday's march clearly showed that growing numbers of Londoners are no longer prepared to put up with this. Whether local politicians and Boris are going to listen remains to be seen.
Guardian article about the protest
Paul Coleman's article about the protest
Aylesbury Estate occupied
Johnny Void's article about the Aylesbury occupation
First published at People's Republic of Southwark