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Cornerstone Housing Co-op Raided by Police

by omni Thursday, Dec. 05, 2002 at 8:42 PM

At 8:45 on Thursday 28th November 2002 both houses which make up Cornerstone Housing Co-op (in Leeds, UK) were raided by the police. The raid was in connection with an action against the 'New Tribes Mission' (in solidarity with the indigenous peoples of the South Pacific)

This message is forwarded from Cornerstone Housing Co-op:
At 8:45 on Thursday 28th November 2002 both houses which make up Cornerstone
Housing Co-op (in Leeds, UK) were raided by the police. The raid was in
connection with an action against the 'New Tribes Mission' (in solidarity with
the indigenous peoples of the South Pacific) in Grimsby, Lincolnshire on 11
October 2002. The raid was carried out to secure evidence namely some computer
hard disks that were reported stolen during the action.

After an hour or so of searching they decided to arrest everyone who had slept
in the houses that night and anyone who came home during the search (13 people
in all). We assume that this decision was made as the houses were a lot bigger
than Lincolnshire police expected and most people have a lot of stuff in their
rooms, so they wanted us out of the way.

The police took a wide variety of personal and communal effects. They seized 15
computers between the two houses. The computers at both houses were used by lots
of people and groups. We've discussed what we think is on the computers and are
not too worried about that, but we obviously don't know what other people who
are not members of the co-op had saved on them. If you have used our computers
in either house in the past then please be aware that the police now have copies
of any work you have done. They also have our email address book and email

It is possible that Lincolnshire Police may take a number of months to return
the computers.

One of the justifications for the raid was that a van was stopped in the
vicinity of the action and our address (number 40) was given by one or more
occupants of the van. We were totally unaware that our address had been used in
this way until Thursday. The members of Cornerstone ask that people who are not
members of the co-op don’t use our address in such circumstances.

All arrestees were released without being charged with "conspiracy to burgle"
(for which we were arrested), but have been bailed to return to the police
station on 6,7,8,9 January 2003. Everyone arrested had fingerprints and DNA
taken (this was authorised by a superintendent as we were not charged). While
some members of Cornerstone have a history of political activism on a wide range
of issues, other members of the co-op are simply people who believe in the
co-operative ideal and want to live in a housing co-op - this has been
especially hard on them (it was a very extreme first arrest). Everyone in the
co-op knows that someone has been through EVERYTHING that they own while they
were locked up.

How you can help

We've had many offers of support and messages of solidarity over the past few
days for which we are very grateful. We have been lent 4 computers so far, so
those whose work relies heavily on them can continue to earn money, although
they have taken part of a printing press owned by Footprint Workers Co-op, which
is based in one of the houses.

We are no longer desperate for computers, but one more decent one for 2-3 months
would be good.

If you live locally to Leeds and you can help us make a front door and replace
the door frame at number 16 then that would be really appreciated (the door is
not a standard size).

We don't need money as the co-op can cover its material losses.

We would like to express our solidarity with the other three places raided in
the last ten days on unrelated pretexts, namely A-Spire (Leeds) last Saturday
night, a friend in Manchester on Sunday and the Sumac Centre (Nottingham) on

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