Open letter to the Municipality of Porto regarding the scheduled eviction of the center in late March
Social center ESCOLA
29 Feb 2012 21:51 GMT
The former school Alto da Fontinha, empty and in decay for more than five years, was occupied on 10 April 2011 by a group of people who wanted to reclaim this public space for the local people in the neighborhood. Quickly the occupation gained support and brought together a growing group of activists who were driven by the idea of creating a project for social and cultural activities - without financial support, and self-administered with and for the local population.
Es.Col.A. (Porto, Portugal)
The repairing of the building and equipment began, as well as the social and cultural activities when 10 May, one month after the occupation of the building, a massive police operation called by the Municipality of Porto evicted the group forcibly and without any warning . The building was closed again, the windows walled and it remained empty for more than two months until a strong mobilization of the people forced the city council to reverse the eviction on 25 July and afterwards to conclude a usage agreement.
The project went back into the building and the activities were resumed and expanded, according to the needs of people in the neighborhood: There are courses and seminars for literacy, music, painting, chess, yoga, capoeira, etc. The social also has a neighborhood kitchen, a bicycle repair station/workshop, a library, Internet access, theater and cinema.
During the seven months after reoccupation, the city government has made no attempt to reaching the project and the people in the district. The recent eviction order also ignores that the demands, as they are listed in the usage agreement, have been met by us. It is clear that the city government is only interested in destroying the social center Es.Col.A. - and nullify the work that has been done in this neighborhood.
In the face of this attitude of the Municipality of Porto, which is characterized by the contempt and the distance it keeps ignoring local people, the project and the town it ought to serve we can only point out that we do not accept the legitimacy of the scheduled eviction. The social center Es.Col.A. will continue using the building for the social and cultural activities, according to its principles: independent structures away from party-politics or economic interests, self-governing and autonomous, free of hierarchy, with decisions made on a democratic basis using consensus.
„Seja bem-vindo quem vier por bem“ (José Afonso) („Welcome are those that come with good intentions“)
Social center ESCOLA (Porto, Portugal) ( http://escoladafontinha.blogspot.com/, email@example.com)