The decision to remove D. from the Syrena collective was made by the collective in a statutory manner, as a result of discussions at open plenary weekly meetings of the social collective (*broader collective, not just the house tenants) , and communicated directly to D. and to all Warsaw groups two weeks earlier, including the Warsaw Tenants Association (WSL). The decision was transparent, also the date by which D. is due to move out. In practice, we gave him a week longer. The submitted decision contained information that the collective was able to offer D. any assistance in moving and finding a flat. We knew he wouldn’t end up on the street. None of these collectives (including the WSL) objected to this decision.
2. A few days before this decision was enforced, we asked various people from outside collectives to act as external observers and to ensure that the process was safe for us and for D.
3. The very process of D.‘s removal was thought out in such a way as to minimize the risk of confrontation. Of course, we reckoned with the fact that D. might be aggressive. Therefore, instead of everyone entering his room, we sent 3 people to talk to him calmly. Right away, D. behaved in a very aggressive manner. The moment he elbowed the negotiator in the face, more people came in and calmed him down in the least violent way possible. None of us had veils or any equipment. Nobody put a bag over D.’s head, what an absurdity! No violence was used against D., apart from holding his arms, as he continued to attack people. He threatened to cut everyone’s throats. Nevertheless, after calming him down, he was offered to pack up and take his things. When he refused, he was given shoes and a jacket. His partner (who has never been in the Syrena collective and has never formally lived in Syrena, lived there as his partner) was given as much time as she needed to change from her home clothes and take her things. All D.‘s belongings were packed and handed over to him outside the gate, so that not a single sock was lost.
4. The Syrena collective took part in this situation; also people from many groups and collectives (mainly from Warsaw, but also from Wrocław).
Our statement was signed by such groups as:
Społeczny Kolektyw Syrena (The Social Collective of Syrena), Abortion Dream Team, Codziennik Feministyczny (Daily Feminist), Feministyczna Organizacja Rewolucyjnego Klikania (Feminist Organization of Revolutionary Clicking), Grupa Nieustającej Pomocy (Group of Perpetual Help), Kolektyw Dzień Po (Day After Collective), Kolektyw Światłoczułość (Light-sensitivity Collective), Medusa Collective, Nowy Byt Feministyczny (New Feminist Being), Wiktoria from the March 8 Initiative, Porozumienie Kobiet 8 Marca (March 8 Women’s Coalition), Sambrokato, Sex Work Polska, Squat Samowolka, Warsaw Anarchist Formation, Anarchist Black Cross Wrocław, Antifascist Przemyśl, March for Safe Abortion and Warsaw for Rojava.
People from the Przychodnia i Rozbrat collective were not witnesses to this situation, they know it ONLY from D. Therefore, we are not dealing with an account of ‘two sides’. These are the accounts of many groups and collectives that have been involved in the resolution of this conflict for months, and the account of one perpetrator of violence and his partner. The fact that the Rozbrat and Przychodnia Skłot collectives accept the narrative of the perpetrator of violence, ignoring all other voices of activists is a proof that they are not interested in what it really was. They don’t even care about D. This is pure anti-feminist backlash.
5. The situation of conflict and violence had been going on for a very long time. All squat collectives all over Poland and Warsaw had known about it for many months. After D. choked and kicked two members of the collective in the head in August, and when other people tried to intervene, he pulled a knife on them, we asked many groups for help in solving the situation. D.‘s acts of violence were not questioned – he himself admitted to it openly.
6. Before we decided to remove D. from the collective, we made many months of attempts at mediation, the restorative process. Unsuccessfully.
7. Despite the months of continued violence, we did not publicize the matter. We asked for support from many groups and collectives. Many of them got involved in the process of solving this situation; some ignored the matter, telling us to deal with it among ourselves. Instead of the way of a call-out (public announcement of violence) we chose the way of a call-in (communication inside ’our circle’), hoping that it would be possible to solve this matter with the participation of the “community” itself. The moment when we made this situation public was the 3rd hour when our building was stormed by the Przychodnia collective and their team. At the same time as bottles, stones, bricks, pepper gas and firecrackers were flying at us. Bricks fell through the windows, onto beds and tables. Much of the glass went down. They started cutting the door with an angle grinder. There were more and more people injured, one of them has a fractured skull. We had to flee under a hail of stones from our home. From this house, which we have renovated for 10 years and made it one of the major anti-capitalist centers on the city map. We ran away with our heads injured after we had said ENOUGH to months-lasting violence against us.
8. As a result of the assault against Syrena, all the women and non-masculine people from the house were kicked out. They were people who constituted the political section of the group – activists who had been running the political activity of the place for years. Among them were people who founded the Syrena and those who lived and worked there for many years. They include people from queer, climate and migrant groups as well as long-term tenant and worker’s rights activists. This division into the queer and social division of Syrena is artificially imposed and deceptive. The Syrena has always combined all these dimensions of social struggles. The day before throwing us out from home, we were in touch with WSL, because we were arranging for them funds to renovate their premises, which we wanted to prepare for them, lol. We have been actively involved in the tenant movement for many years.
9. There are 6 men left from the former collective in the building. We have convictions for fighting at evictions for people who are now in Syrena. It’s funny.
10. Freedom from domestic violence is not a whim. It has been a postulate of tenant movements for years. The removal of the abuser is also one of the key postulates of the Social Congress of Women, developed by the WSL (Warsaw) and WSL (Greater Poland):
“18. Introducing regulations on domestic violence, whereby the perpetrator of violence is obliged to leave the apartment. The existing forms of protection of victims of violence are not sufficient in terms of protection of tenants’ rights. It is often the victims of violence that are forced to leave the apartment and leave the apartment for several months or many years of waiting for court judgments and for the possibility of applying for housing assistance. ”
We took part in this Congress. The cynical use of pro-tenants arguments in defense of the perpetrators of violence is an offence to the many years of tenant struggles.