Squatters who belong to various anti-fascist groups, including the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians (ANAL), were evicted by police from a $19 million-dollar mansion in London on Feb. 1 (video below).
A police officer gave the Daily Mail a headcount: "I counted 42 in total, it was quite peaceful there wasn't a lot of protest."
The mansion -- believed to be empty -- is owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Goncharenko, who won a court battle to have the squatters evicted.
Nico Phillips, who has cerebral palsy, recalled how he and others tried locking themselves in a room: "We knew that it was better to stay out of the way of any violence and to stay away from what was happening. Some people were trying to kick things off, we were on the ground floor. We were just trying to stay safe."
Another squatter, Jessica Ellis, complained about the officers' rough treatment:
One of them grabbed me for no reason and I was manhandled and I said I have asthma but they didn't listen. I had a bottle of squash and I threw it at one of them, they shoved me against a fence and I went to head butt another because they were pushing me down the stairs. Then I was shoved to the floor and eventually they took me round the corner and let me go.
After the eviction, about 20 of the squatters promptly took up residence in a $31 million-dollar mansion near Buckingham Palace.
An unidentified squatter told the Daily Mail: "It's big - it's like seven floors. It's a lot bigger than the other one. I sorted out my room already and I can't find it. It's massive."
Tom Fox, another squatter, explained the relocation process:
We found it about two hours ago, there are some awesome rooms here, mine is the one at the top. Me and the other guys who opened the place had a meeting earlier and everyone can choose their own room. There's enough for everyone but the guys who open the building get first dibs.
At the moment there are 20 people here and we will go around and talk to some homeless people and talk to them, if they seem okay they we will invite them back here. We will stay for as long as we can, we're hoping to get the lift fixed as well and the guys have already got the electricity going.
It was really quick [moving from the other mansion] and finding this place but it always happens like that. People here have been squatting for years, they know how to live and how to get the electricity and heating working.
A self-identified handyman, who used to work as an engineer, explained the next steps to the Daily Mail:
We are going to barricade one half of the front door and the second half we are going to use. At the moment, I am protecting the people who live here, when we were under attack from the fascists we needed the doors to be barricaded.
There are only two doors that need to be barricaded, one half of the front door and this one. My power tools are the most important thing, I bought this drill, I am a handyman.When we got in the first thing we did was switch off the lift and got the electricity working, hopefully we can get the central heating on, if the heating is cut there is nothing we can do. We'll just have to use electric heaters.
Fox, who has plumbing skills, explained how wealthy mansions sit empty when they could be used to house the homeless:
There is so much empty space and so many empty houses because people have invested in these dead assets, these stale assets.
There are so many homeless people who need a place to stay. This place is in great condition and we have got nine or ten homeless people living here.
There are these preconceptions that they are all crack addicts and things but many people are in this situation because they have just slipped through the net.
There would be plenty of people willing to work as minders [for these properties], you could set up CCTV and then let the homeless in. There are people dying on the streets at the moment.
In December 2016, over 20 squatters were evicted from the former London headquarters of Camelot Property Management, a company that tried to stop squatting in buildings, reported The Guardian.
The squatters, who were trying to draw attention to housing inequality, lived on the property for about two months.
One of the squatters, who identified himself as Rich, explained the services they offered while in residence:
We received a lot of support for this occupation. We offered yoga workshops, tea and coffee, exhibitions about homelessness and we had a recording studio facilitating young musicians to make music. It’s ridiculous that there are so many homeless people on the streets while at the same time there are so many empty buildings like this one.
Sources: Daily Mail, The Guardian, YouTube / Photo credit: Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians/Facebook