After 133 days of occupation, the Goldsmiths Anti-racist Action group (GARA) have received a notice of eviction from the University’s senior management team (SMT).
The group of mainly BME students, who have been occupying Deptford Town Hall for the past 4 months, received a letter on the 16 July urging the group to vacate the premises by 8am on Monday 22 July or risk eviction.
Core group member Nishat Seema, who is also a first-year Sociology student at Goldsmiths College told East London Lines: “We received a letter that was slid under our door and also emailed to us addressed to ‘Persons known and Persons unknown’, which was basically a threat of legal action, a court order for possession of the building. We responded to that very cordially saying we are going to give you the opportunity to retract the statement and instead meet our demands- because we have outstanding ones that are still remaining – their response was to still press on with the threat of eviction.”
Goldsmiths University and College Union (UCU ), which has rallied in support of the cause since its inception in March, initiated protests outside of the Deptford Town Hall building.
1/18 Please retweet this thread! On July 16th SMT threatened us with eviction from Deptford Town Hall if we don't leave by 8am on Monday. Last time this happened, they put DTH in lockdown, and BME students inside were assaulted by externally hired security guards. #goldoccupy pic.twitter.com/WlCkVO2yUM
— GARA | DAY 133 IN OCCUPATION (@GoldAntiRacism) July 19, 2019
Seema continued: “Much of our support has come from the unions, the SU (Students Union) has definitely helped out when we have needed them.”
A statement released by Professor Elizabeth Hill, acting warden of Goldsmiths College explained in an email to staff that the college had “listened carefully to their (GARA) powerful case for change.”
Hill continued: “Despite GARA’s refusal to engage in professional mediation – we agreed to over 10 hours of talks with the protestors. SMT has now agreed to the majority of the protestors’ list of demands, and we have already begun progressing many of them”.
“We formally demanded that GARA end their occupation by this morning Monday 22nd July giving them five full days’ notice. However, GARA has failed to leave Deptford Town Hall. We have therefore reluctantly concluded that the only responsible course of action remaining is to take proportionate legal steps to regain possession of the building”.
The group currently remain inside the building.