Second Statement house project M29

Update on the Situation in the M29 Houseproject

The following is an update on the escalative situation in our houseproject, which we acknowledge with sorrow and pain.

After the escalative situation on the 5.5.2024, the house was definitively divided into two groups. A group of four people and the rest. This group is convinced that the rest called the cops, publicly run a call for the occupation of the house and the eviction of the rest of the people from the house. We didn’t call the cops!

After being confronted with a possible forced occupation and eviction, the rest of the community started thinking of possible deescalative solutions. But trust and communication has been broken definitively. After months of attempts to find a solution we had to consequtively decide as a particular collective that this living together is not going to be possible under these circumstances at all and because facing a potential upcoming occupation we decided to act and terminate the contracts of those participating in the planning of the occupation effective immediate. For this extremely difficult decision especially, why leaving them only less than a week to leave the house, we would like to give a more detailed context in this update.

As stated previously: Our house the M29 Houseproject needs to change, the structures are old and often reinforce eurocentric ideas of self-organizing, not reflecting on different aspects of diversity and barriers due to cultural, class, identiy, neurodiversity, mental or physical disabilities, experiences of more and more people inhabiting the project. 

We do not want this! About two years ago the house started a process of a collective reflection, rethinking and adjustment of these structures to accommodate the needs of the then residents of the house, but also to make it more inviting for potential future residents. This process was (has been) long and full of debate and discussion of how to approach these issues. Our approach was to first come to terms with basic concepts we use the way we understand oppression and its structures, in order to essentially apply change making it inherent and long-lasting. Additionally, we made conscious decisions about including more People of Colour into our community, not only to talk about change but also to do it. We thought, let’s do this and then we will see what the problems are, not only just to philosophize about it. What we didn’t consider in our ignorance is that this way we actively included marginalized people who then have to suffer the consequences of these still forming unreliable structures, in a situation where those marginalized people already living in the house were not even heard completely. 

In March 2023 we welcomed a new house-member into our house, who was eager to jump in, interested in all our communal ways and structures and also a Black person with knowledge sensitivity to racism and racist structures. It was an unanimous decision – something rarely happening. Three months later this person entered into a hunger-strike and demanded that all whites should move immediately until they reflected on their racism. Additionally, a PoC housemate also actively addressing oppressive structures of the house from before was specifically targeted as the embodiment of white supremacy, framed as a Black baby killer. The PoC person and another PoC temporary inhabitant was immediately to leave the house and never to return. The hunger strike was ended after a week with the help of a support group who stayed in the house. A mediated process started, which lasted until January, 2024. To keep them safe, the collective consented to a temporary house separation where the entire upper floor – our essential communal space – was mostly occupied by that single person, with only restricted possible presence of white people.

However, in spite of the great expertise and huge amount of work of a Black mediator (need to add that her work was been seen in a very critical way too by some members of M29), the process could not function as intended, many calling for feeling unsafe in the mediated environment, many felt that their red line was crossed with this form of resistance in their home with claims of ‚you are killing a Black person‘, also the number of housemates (18) was too high to be always present and the fluctuation at the sessions was difficult to hold, finally people have been struggling with the struggles of their everyday lives, parenting, illnesses, sick parents or just simply work, life. Many had to move and leave this difficult environment, and we started struggling with finances due to the constant missing rent. Our disagreements about the process also tore us apart. The Black person who went into hunger strike, was completely isolated (actively isolated themselves) exiting all possible communication channels, commissioning a kind of representative from EOTO through whom only slow and restricted communication was possible and segregating themselves on the upper floor of our house. After five month of this state and the mediation bringing some individual success, less on a collective level, the collective decided it wants to end this particular process and start a process of separation. How can we separate well? – was the central question. The now extremely isolated person did not agree to this change also and our mediator was not willing to lead such a process. Still it was clear we can not live like that as a collective. The separation of the house had to be ended, we had to start establishing direct communication to each other and openly communicate that we can not live together. This was continuously disregarded, while their demand of white people (and allies) must leave the house also remained.

In January, 2024 as the Mediation process finished, the house separation finished with it. Some other temporary and long-term Black members of the house community formed a support group around that person. They were not isolated anymore, all pepole started to come to plenums – house meetings – and Black led plenums were started to approach our general decisions through the structural issue of racism. At the same time the often abusive and authoritarian approach of the person was never addressed and reflected upon. People – especially some PoC house mates of the house felt that in order to restore trust we have to talk about it. The Black led house meetings were not a space open to discuss this the singular narrative of anti-black racism disregarded all other aspects of oppression, which intersect with each other. 

Quickly this new promising space became an authoritarian space of one narrative, and different forms of abuse – shouting, bullying, catcalling, threatening – became the norm, always legitimized by the white supremacist status-quo of the house and that abuse is there anyway and so on. Although some perspectives point out that the authoritarian space already began with the acceptance of most demands of the hunger strike. White, PoC a Black house-members alike suffered the consequences in case disagreeing with anything. Who is a Person of Colour and who isn’t was now in the hands of this Black-led group in cases completely erasing the diverse history and experience of different BiPoC. Our house-chat became a platform of constant comments of „you bitch“, „you stupid hoe“ „fucking nazis“ „yall a joke“ and so on. This escalated to points, where even simple statements/questions about house tools or work were just ridiculed or bashed with comments like this. Most recently threats like „the ship is sinking“, „the house is burning. run!“, „And don’t have high expectations when our revolution victory day comes.“ appeared, made everyone feel at unease even though we tried not to interpret them as a threats.

Additionally, two temporary house-mates, who were clearly accepted to the house for only a temporary period with possible extension due to our inability to make long-term collective decisions, were told two months ago that people do not want to live with them long-term so they have to leave. This was simply ignored and they refused to leave on the pretext that this is racist and transphobic (we said that we are not going to kick them out, but that they should start looking for a long-term space for themselves). This is how we arrived at the escalation on the 5.5.2024. After we found out about the occupation plan posted at one of Berlins BiPoC mailing lists, since many of the M29 house-mates are also on many BiPoC Mailing-lists of Berlin, we realized those threats were meant seriously. At some point they started adding external people to our house chat, which was anyways already a platform of constant abuse at that point, so we took them out of that chat and started organizing to prevent an occupation. This is how the remaining collective – with some exceptions of burn out and political reasons – ended up deciding on the termination of the contract of those participating in the organisation of the occupation effective immediate. We understand that we mobilize our power structures to be able to do that. Being also close to burn out, with limiting capacities we so-far could not think of any potential alternative, which could prevent the occupation of our house project and our eviction from it in that way. We are committed not to involve the cops and we are right now organizing accommodation until the end of the month for the four people with terminated contracts.

We hope that this update gets to many of you and can somewhat contextualize the decision we had to make.

Continuously with deep sorrow and solidarity