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Photo from Transition Heathrow

Squats Raided Ahead Of Royal Wedding

Were Police using the Royal Wedding security as an excuse for raiding squats in London this morning, Huw Nesbitt asks?

As reported, riot police raided squats in the Camberwell, Clapton and Heathrow areas of London this morning, with subsequent reports suggesting that several arrests have been made as a result. This comes just days after head of central operations at Scotland Yard Lynne Owens indicated the use of pre-emptive action by the Met to "disrupt any criminal behaviour that may be anticipated" in the run up to the royal wedding. Afterwards, the mainstream media was quick to speculate as to what Owens really meant, with the Guardian’s crime correspondent, Sandra Laville, couching her opinions in the language of conspiracy.

“Pre-emptive action could include moving in to break up squats in London or elsewhere where individuals are gathering.” Laville wrote. “They could also carry out arrests under conspiracy laws if they had enough evidence that a criminal plot or conspiracy had taken place.”

The irony, of course, is that the presentation of this narrative is backwards. After all, it is not the squatters talking to news platforms in vague terms and discussing the use of carte blanche legislation, but the police; just whose conspiracy is this, anyway?

Today, the mainstream media has largely ignored the events in Camberwell, Clapton and Heathrow, which only further highlights its inability to provide accurate, articulate and timely discourse on current events. Case in point for this was that before I found news of the raids via IndyMedia, details of the police action had already been circulating on Facebook.

As soon as I read these, I rang my friend, who lives in the squat at Heathrow (or ‘Transition Heathrow’/’Grow Heathrow’ as it is officially called), as part of the site’s attempts to prevent the expansion of the airport. (I will not use his name as I did not ask to quote him and did not have any intention of writing about this event while speaking to him).

“It was quite an eventful morning,” he said. “Forty riot police officers turned up, looking for stuff. Of course, there was nothing for them to find. When asked why they had turned up, all they suggested was that it had to do with the royal wedding.”

The Royal Wedding has become an excuse for all sorts of things lately, from pubs and clubs hosting “anti-wedding” parties (the cynical dollar is always profitable), to Muslims Against Crusades and the English Defence League planning opposing protests against one another on the day itself. (A clash that will closely resemble the anxiety contained by two men with very smalls dicks bickering over who can piss the farthest). The Met’s excuse for using the Royal Wedding to launch raids on these squats is the most transparent, however. What happened at Heathrow this morning acts as a very good example.

Formerly a hamlet that was demolished to make way for the airport, Heathrow is part of the London Borough of Hounslow and inhabits the very periphery of Greater London: its very existence as a non-place (a wipe-clean stainless steel and glass corridor for passing international trade) constantly challenging the limits of our conception of London as a static term. If these raids are really specific to London as the site of the wedding, then why pick a squat that exists at its very edgelands, where “London” itself begins to supposedly disappear?