Bristol's GRC: Bailiffs in Balaclavas

Tony Gosling tony at
Fri Jan 5 13:03:52 GMT 2018


Paramilitary eviction squads, High Court 
injunctions, deportations, torched dwellings  - 
these are the legacy of the 2012 anti-squatting 
laws, writes TONY GOSLING, reporting from Bristol.

Before dawn on 23 November 2016 around 25 men 
dressed in black with masked faces, turned up 
equipped with sledgehammers, crowbars and dogs at 
a squat in a commercial building in Barton Hill, 
Bristol. They broke in through a window and two 
doors and once inside ordered the six petrified 
Spanish residents to "get on the floor". 
Eventually, the squatters were ordered to leave 
the premises with their hands up in the air. When 
the police turned up in response to the 
squatters' 999 call they spoke to the bailiffs only, before driving off.

This was the first strike by the firm Graham Rose 
Consultants (GRC) who see themselves as 
"entrepreneurs" opening up a new market in 
illegal evictions. They claim to help landowners 
use so called "Common Law" to evict gypsies and 
travellers trespassing on open land, and will 
remove squatters "without the need to go through a lengthy court process."

Since then GRC have carried out several other 
evictions by force and without court orders. On 
14 February 2017, about ten of their bailiffs 
arrived with power cutters at 6am at the empty 
Greencore warehouse in Bristol's St Philip's 
district occupied by two squatters. On 18 May, 
eight bailiffs broke into the abandoned Bristol 
Tile Factory warehouse in Fishponds Road to evict 
half a dozen squatters from a retail unit where 
local groups have campaigned against a planned McDonalds.

GRC's business model is to break in to lawfully 
occupied buildings before the police arrive, 
hoping that residents will be intimidated out, 
vigilante style. This is illegal so the raids are 
organised with military precision since they have 
to commit the criminal damage and gain entry to 
the property under cover of darkness and before 
police arrive. The fact that such a confrontation 
will, on occasions, turn violent seems to be part 
of the adrenalin draw for those they employ, who 
are always dressed in black and wear balaclavas - 
in the Greencore operation, one wore a skull 
mask. In the Tile Factory attack, they carried CS 
spray canisters, side batons and body armour 
along with the usual sledgehammers.

Squatters have described the GRC masked bailiffs 
as behaving like riot-trained police officers, 
down to the barked orders and mannerisms. Many of 
them have Welsh accents and one has a Welsh red 
dragon flag sewn onto his black jacket. Squat- 
ters have not forgotten that it was mostly Welsh 
police who were brought over to Bristol to kick 
off Stokes Croft's so-called "Tesco riots" in April 2011.

The clauses criminalising squatting in 
residential properties and removing legal aid for 
the homeless in the 2102 Legal Aid, Sentencing 
and Punishment of Offenders Act are ideal for 
unscrupulous bailiffs like GRC. This law tends to 
force squatters into industrial estates away from 
eyewitnesses, and encourage landlords and 
bailiffs to carry out criminal evictions in the 
knowledge that without legal aid, squatters are 
less likely be able to challenge them through the 
courts. News of these violent evictions has 
spread around the Bristol homeless community, 
discouraging people from squatting commercial properties.

Tent City

As squatting buildings becomes more difficult, 
homeless people are resorting to living in tents. 
There are several encampments tucked away in 
parks and scraps of wood- land within a mile of 
Bristol's city centre. Until now the bailiffs 
have left them alone, but the tent dwellers face other hazards.

First of these is Bristol Council, which in 2016, 
under the Labour mayor Marvin Rees, engaged 
personnel to wait until tent dwellers left their 
site empty in order to confiscate their tents. 
Since this was theft, the council was forced to 
abandon this policy. Instead it applied for an 
injunction against a "Tent City" of ten residents 
in Peel Street Park in the Easton area of 
Bristol, forbidding them to camp on any 
council-owned parks and derelict spaces. Bristol 
Housing Action Movement (BHAM) initiated a 
fundraising campaign and engaged Derek McConnell 
from South West Law, who managed to get the ban 
reduced to just that park for only six months. Tent City moved to another site.

Another hazard is the charity St Mungo's whose 
outreach team roam the streets engaging and 
identifying the city's rough sleepers, ostensibly 
with a view to getting them one of the rare 
available beds in a hostel. Identity checks by 
these "helpers of the homeless" are being handed 
on to the Home Office eager to deport any migrant 
with no visible means of support. In May two 
Polish men living at Tent City were jailed for 
several months in the former Navy prison at 
Portland, and one was sent back to Poland. St 
Mungo's, some readers may recall, was a partner 
in Ealing Council's award-winning "beds in sheds" 
enforcement campaign, which was specifically 
designed to "tackle illegal immigrants and 
illegal employment practices." (See The Land 19 p 59).

Then one evening in September 2017 the occupants 
of Tent City left the site to visit a soup 
kitchen. They returned to find that arsonists had 
torched many of their tents with all their 
belongings inside. BHAM again came to the rescue: 
it found alternative squatted accommodation and 
organised an appeal for money to replace the 
burnt possessions. One of the activists told the 
Bristol Post: "With winter a few months away it 
is very important that we provide the duty of 
care that Bristol City Council will not".

Thanks to Isabel Burnett - who helped research 
GRC and submitted an article to The Bristol Cable 
in early summer 2017, which wasn't published.

 From South America, where payment must be made 
with subtlety, the Bormann organization has made 
a substantial contribution. It has drawn many of 
the brightest Jewish businessmen into a 
participatory role in the development of many of 
its corporations, and many of these Jews share 
their prosperity most generously with Israel. If 
their proposals are sound, they are even provided 
with a specially dispensed venture capital fund. 
I spoke with one Jewish businessmen in Hartford, 
Connecticut. He had arrived there quite unknown 
several years before our conversation, but with 
Bormann money as his leverage. Today he is more 
than a millionaire, a quiet leader in the 
community with a certain share of his profits 
earmarked as always for his venture capital 
benefactors. This has taken place in many other 
instances across America and demonstrates how 
Bormann’s people operate in the contemporary 
commercial world, in contrast to the fanciful 
nonsense with which Nazis are described in so much “literature.”

So much emphasis is placed on select Jewish 
participation in Bormann companies that when 
Adolf Eichmann was seized and taken to Tel Aviv 
to stand trial, it produced a shock wave in the 
Jewish and German communities of Buenos Aires. 
Jewish leaders informed the Israeli authorities 
in no uncertain terms that this must never happen 
again because a repetition would permanently 
rupture relations with the Germans of Latin 
America, as well as with the Bormann 
organization, and cut off the flow of Jewish 
money to Israel. It never happened again, and the 
pursuit of Bormann quieted down at the request of 
these Jewish leaders. He is residing in an 
Argentinian safe haven, protected by the most 
efficient German infrastructure in history as 
well as by all those whose prosperity depends on his well-being.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list