The attack on the Syrena Collective – our statement on events of 5/12/2021
Once again a macho squat attacked the queer-feminist community. Today’s attack is a part of patriarchal abuse that we experience every day living in Poland. Cis-het man not able to control their anger deprived queer-feminist people of their home, and many collectives of space for grassroots political activism.
The escalating situation of domestic abuse in the Syrena collective has been going on for some time now. This abuse consisted of verbal threats, knife threats, transphobia, misogyny, kicking one of the locators and choking another. We couldn’t stand it anymore. Collective tried to solve the situation numerous times – mediations, meetings lasting many hours. Dima boycotted, sabotaged, disrupted or refused to partake in them. We had enough. We didn’t want to be victims anymore. Freedom from physical abuse in one’s home is not an exorbitant expectation nor something to be negotiated – we have a right to feel safe there. We didn’t want to passively witness Dima’s violence towards members of the collective. We reacted to it by removing him from the building. It is not a relationship of power resembling the one between the landlord and the locator, but rather a form of self-defence. This situation was going on for several months. During this time Dima threatened us with a knife, pepper spray and physical violence numerous times. We can’t allow constant violation of our sense of safety and wellbeing.
In the middle of October, the community collective decided that the abuser has to leave the squat. On the 21st of November Dima was informed about this decision and given a week to move out. The deadline passed a week ago – on November 28th. Today (on the 5th of December) the community collective went to talk to him. To avoid escalation of tension, it was a group of four people – the negotiation group. It was formed of people who lived in Syrena for many years, but most of them didn’t partake in the ongoing conflict. We’ve been already aware of the mechanism of Dima’s behaviours and his tendency towards aggression. So to secure the process, there were also a lot of people from Syrena community collective present at the location.
In the case of physical violence on Dima’s part, people from the community collective removed him from the building by force. He was not in any way harmed. Within two minutes he was given shoes and a winter coat. His things were packed. It was the very first time that Dima was physically removed from the building. He was previously warned that such actions will be taken if necessary.
An hour later Przychodnia squat attacked Syrena squat. Attackers threw glass bottles, bricks and firecrackers at the people in the backyard and at the building.
Then they cut through the fence, entered Syrena territory and continued their attack.
They smashed the windows, threw pepper spray, bricks, firecrackers and glass bottles inside. They tried to force through the door using a diax, axes and crowbars. When they entered the building, the inhabitants of Syrena and people from the community collective withdrew, fearing for their lives and health. It’s worth mentioning that these were predominantly queer people and women. Attackers on the contrary were mostly cis-men who couldn’t control their anger.
Resulting in Przychodnia squat’s attack, no queer people nor women live in Syrena now, over a dozen of activists lost their home and many communities – their space of activism. All people have an emergency accommodation. Injured people (some of them have body injuries, including fractured skulls) are under medical care.
The attackers claim, that they acted in defence of their colleague who was harmed (Dima), who they say is a political refugee and a leader of the belarussian community in Warsaw. The reason for moving him out was his numerous abusive behaviours, not his migrant status.
It was not the people who were thrown out of Syrena today, but rather Syrena was thrown out of its home. Syrena isn’t a building at Wilcza 30, but a political project – feminist, queer, anarchist. Neither sexist, queerphobic behaviours nor forcibly taking over a space (either physical or metaphorical) by cis-men not able to control their anger won’t be accepted.
Społeczny Kolektyw Syrena
Aborcyjny Dream Team
Anarchistyczny Czarny Krzyż Wrocław
Feministyczna Organizacja Rewolucyjnego Klikania
Grupa Nieustającej Pomocy
Kolektyw Dzień Po
NBF Nowy Byt Feministyczny
Porozumienie Kobiet 8 Marca
Sex Work Polska
Warszawska Formacja Anarchistyczna