In early 2002 activists previously involved with the Broadway Squats and other projects decided to venture out of the inner-city to squat an amazing abandoned ballroom in Homebush. The following film by Anna Vo and pieces from the squat.net archives recount a little of the space’s ten month history.
Grand midnight star social centre squatted: 10/2/02
On the 10th Feb SCAN (the social centre autonomous network) occupied an old theatre vacant for years, called the Grand Midnight Star on 55-57 Paramatta Road in Homebush. The occupation began at 8am with barricading of all entrances and other security systems being put in place. > The social centre is now open for workshops, meetings, forums, film nights, conferences, performance, gigs and other social and political activity. *red velvet and power tools
The asthetic is not dissimilar to a David Lynch film. Velvet and chandeliers and olde worlde remnants of opulence. Food not bombs set up a gleaming kitchen, SHAC <sydney housing action collective> set up a squat expo with a historical display on the walls – newsclippings, old zines, and articles covering the rent strikes of the 20s and thirties, through to melbourne in the 80’s and the squatters union, Glebe estate in the 80’s Victoria Street , Broadway in 1989 and 2000-2001 and so forth.
> Working bees to develop a resource centre are underway.
A cinema was set up and films were shown from the Squatters Historical Archive, such as footage of the Direct Action Collective for Housing, the jellyheads, the Biscuit and Broadway Squats. As well as a great zombie film, Dawn of the Dead (where america is over run by zombies who take refuge in a shopping mall)
Scanners and supporters enjoyed the sounds of monkey mark, elf transporter, elefant traks, system corrupt, the spitz and others into the night.
*Contact with Police and Owner – nil.
The space is yet to be ‘contested’ in that sense.
The centre is primarily non-residential and is a social and political space. However a caretaker/contact point of residency will be put in place.
Those interested can join the roster for sleep overs/day visits this week to enable the ongoing security of the space.
If would like to have your meetinghttp://scan.cat.org.aufor updates, site map and how to get there. *Tonight – Monday *6.30 – SCAN meeting *Vege Pot Luck Dinner 7.30 onwards (Please join us for dinner and bring a dish, or just come along to have a look at the space. Lots of Food Not Bombers will be out there cooking too.
The Grand Midnight Star Social Centre 55-57 Parramatta Rd. Homebush or event in the space please make contact with us by calling 0415-882-901 and leaving a message. You will be responded to promptly.
An update on the midnight star social centre
Day three of resisting police attacks!
The social centre is maintaining a 24 hour occupation and your support is welcome to defend the occupied and self managed social centre, three months in development. people are very weary and would appreciate any help at all, from onside the social centre and from without.
The eviction attempt is clearly orchestrated by the police and not the owner. This comes after ‘non-interventionist’ police surveillance in the first week of occupation and no police contact since. During one security issue police removed a violent person from the space, saying they weren’t interested in the squat. With the anarchist-autonomist conference looming on the weekend, and the social centre being an organising space for may day , the eviction is thus contextualised.
the first sign of an organised police operation were visible on monday
night with a few cars and paddy wagons approaching pple who were arriving for a meeting only to find themselves locked out. the police were clearly organised to arrive at this specific time, emerging from their cars with a number of video cameras.
The next day around 20 police attempted to force entry, and failed. They were overheard mentioning intendign to use their capsicum spray , however received a call from their commander to not enter for fear of ‘boobytrapping”. The cops have cut the phone lines. they have not yet returned.
It is also clear that the police have not acted under the instruction of the owner and do not know who the owner is. When comrades slipped a note under the door instructing police it was not a matter for them, and that it was a matter for the owner, they left to ‘find the owner’.
The social centre network has established campaign strategies for maintaining the occupation, dealing with police, media and community support. If you would like to get involved in supporting the occupation you could : get on the roster, (24 hours) to occupy the space from the inside, or outside support (keeping perimeter watch, or sending a letter /email for support to the social centre, calling pple to come to the centre, having your meetings there (please!), organising events at the space, helping otu with research on the complex property ownership etc. if you have contacts with alternate media or have a video camera you can make availabe at points of conflict please contact us.
*Every night will be report backs and campaign planning for defending the social centre at 7.30pm. All are welcome. You will be asked to be vouched for, for security.
* tonight, wednesday 7pm – is also the Revolutionary insurgents bloc for may day meeting at the social centre
* film night tonight :: screening LAND AND FREEDOM and /or Wildside (80’se hip hop film )
* social events and entertianment scheduled at the star as part of the anarchist + autnomist conference are go!!! those who planned to sleep at the social centre are very welcome and those travelling from other states are encouraged to come early to help defend the social centre. Billetting options are available on request. go to: http://anarcon.cat.org.au
april 27th update by David
Anarchists from around Australia are supporting SCAN in keeping open the Midnight Star Social Centre/squat in Parramatta rd Homebush.Due to the anarchist conference being held at the University of Technology, Sydney,over the weekend, the squat has got a much needed boost in morale and support in resisting the police attempts at closing down the Social Centre. Around 200 anarchists attended today’s workshops etc, which finished up with a powerful Spanish squatting film and tonight they will party down in Homebush, fully ready for any attempts to close it down.
Midnight Star Squatted Social Centre Evicted : 7.12.02
On Saturday 7 December 2002 the Midnight Star Social Centre was evicted. Around 25 OSG riot police forced their way in just after 7a.m, searched those inside for knives etc, tried to take down names, and gave them just a few minutes to get out. Within hours, the owners had enclosed the site with barbwire fencing and were refusing to allow people in to get their equipment. There were no injuries and no arrests were made.
The Midnight Star had been occupied since February 2002. From the outset, the Social Centre was an experiment in autonomous direct action – it was a non-residential space focused on creating a space outside the control of the state and market. The Midnight Star was an important space for gigs – many doof, punk, hip-hop, and jazz benefit gigs were held there, introducing many people to the possibilities of occupied and autonomous spaces. A pirate cinema – oPeRaTiNg tHeAtRe – screened unusual and rare films and served free food every week, including Hindi films for the local Indian community. A number of different people and crews with computer skills set-up a computer workspace/infoshop with discarded and donated computer equipment. The Midnight Star was also the meeting space for a number of different groups – from local wireless technology networking groups to copwatch and other autonomous/activists crews.
The Midnight Star was a key organising space for a number of anarchist/autonomist events in Sydney this year – including organising for M1 demonstrations and an anarchist/autonomist conference in May 2002, and organising against the WTO mini-ministerial meeting held in Sydney last month.
The eviction was designed and driven by the police, as the owner had been fairly indifferent to the occupation of the space. The police had earlier tried to evict just two weeks before Mayday this year, but were unable to break the barricades. This latest eviction comes just two weeks after the WTO meeting in Sydney, and significant mainstream media on the Midnight Star as the “nerve centre” of violent and politically motivated dissent.
There are a number of different autonomist actions planned over the next few months, and those involved in the Midnight Star are already planning further occupations to take and create autonomous spaces over the next few months.