I am in awe of the No Tesco squatters.
They are putting their safety and freedom on the line, taking non-violent direct action to keep the old Jesters building as a community centre.
It’s a lovely space with its wooden bars and stage and has become a hub of homemade entertainment and education since the squatters moved in.
In time, it could become a food coop selling affordable healthy food.
Instead Tesco wants to turn it into another soulless supermarket selling mass-produced food – even though there are five Tescos within walking distance.
The idea of another Tesco is unpopular.
Many (numbers tbc) have signed the e-petition at Bristol City Council.
3,500 have signed postcards complaining to Bristol City Council about the lack of consultation over the building’s change of use from ‘comedy club’ to ‘shop’.
Supermarkets are bad for local business and communities.
Supermarkets ‘will kill corner shops by 2015’ according to the Times.
Local shops create neighbourliness – and local profit.
Spend money with your local shopkeeper (instead of a supermarket) and the money doubles in value to the community because it is re-spent locally.
Planning laws are toothless – they cannot protect its own.
So the squatters moved into the beautiful old building Tesco wants.
The peaceful squatters want to save the building.
Inspired by Gandhi, they practice passive resistance, or Satyagraha.
The poles on the roof (see my pic above) are an urban version of climbing up a tree and refusing to leave in order to stop it being cut down.
It’s called manufactured vulnerability.
If Tesco wants to repossess the building, then the police and bailiffs acting on court orders will have to evict the squatters by force.
A terrible situation for all involved.
The squatters remind me of the suffragettes who chained themselves to railings.
Sometimes people take brave and desperate action to improve the quality of life for future generations.
Tesco could choose to hand the building back to the community.
What a graceful PR coup for Tesco that would be!
What do you think?