Squatters took over the former Royal Mint in London Tuesday, unfurling banners and voicing their concerns about global warming, homelessness and the alleged pay gap between the rich and the poor.
The squatters affixed placards and signs reading “system change not climate change” and “104,000 homeless children at Christmas” across the face of the Johnson Smirke building, the site of the U.K.’s nearly 220-year-old former Royal Mint.
Though no longer in use, the building still holds historical significance for London’s financial sector. It is being reformatted as a business complex, reports The Guardian, once its unwanted visitors vacate the premises.
The occupiers, intent on bringing light to global warming, among other things, sequestered themselves in the building at about 4 a.m. Monday morning, The Guardian reported. They chose the site because it represents the country’s banking institutions.
“We all need to live in a more sustainable way,” one of the squatters, Pete Phoenix, said according to The Guardian. “The way financial systems work is not conducive to protecting the planet. There is a complex of four huge buildings here. They could be used to provide accommodation for hundreds of homeless people. We could turn this place into an environmental solutions centre.”
While another squatter said, “We want to highlight the fraudulent nature of the banks with this protest and find some solutions to homelessness. The state is not helping homeless people so we would urge those who need a roof over their heads to do what we did – find commercial buildings where the windows have been left open and walk in.”
London had another incident earlier this year that mirrored the one at the Royal Mint. In October, 50 squatters calling themselves the “Bourgeois Squatters” wiggled their way into the building housing the former offices of business networking agency, the Institute of Directors on Pall Mall, in central London — all for the purpose of highlighting London’s housing crisis.
The squatters in that incident claimed no harm, no foul, telling authorities they had not caused any permanent damage besides defacing a statue of Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair — who christened the building in 2001.
The occupiers at the Royal Mint made similar overtures, telling government officials they promise to keep the building clean and repair any damages. In both situations, the occupiers have stated they will stay in their respective buildings until forcibly removed.
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