News - November 3, 2009

Pounding on the rotting emptiness

Protestors temporarily squatted a piece of wasteland in Wageningen during the national squatting weekend. To draw attention to the 'rotting emptiness' and to protest against the squatting ban.

Protestors brighten up a half torn down building on the wasteland in the centre of Wageningen.
Saturday 31 October: A group of ten protestors, most of whom are Wageningen students, walk to the wasteland at the corner of the Ritzema Bosweg and the Churchillweg. Tagging along are a few ex-students with their little children in a carrier cycle. 'What are we going to do?' a little girl asks her father. 'We're going a-squatting', he answers in high spirits.
An iron fence is removed to one side to enable colourful mini-buses with caravans to drive onto the terrain. Two protestors hand out pamphlets. Many curious passers-by stop to watch. They too seem to be annoyed by the empty terrain.
For years, a half broken down little building occupies this piece of land. 'As long as this ruin stands, the owner is officially carrying out a demolition process and doesn't have to find a new usage for the terrain', explains one of the squatters. In 2004, a similar demonstration was held against this urban wasteland but nothing has changed since.
Demolition hammers then turn up out of nowhere. Two young men pound against the half torn down building, but it remains intact. The hammers then withdraw to made way for pots of paint and cans of spray paints. Better pep up the ruin a bit then.
At about 4 pm, Wageningen rock band the Klezmoawers put up a performance. When the last song ends, the singer shouts: 'So what if squatting has become illegal; anyone who can reason a little, just carry on!' The crowd cheered. The protestors have made their point, and leave in the early hours of the evening. All that remains is the wall, still standing. /Christoph Janzing