Cracking the Movement - Squatting beyond the media - CONTENTS

Hans Kok and Death

However fragmented the squatter's movement became into scenes,
incidents, actions and individuals existing parallel to each other, a
remnant of the original feeling of movement stubbornly lived on; people
»still had something together.« This became obvious in February 1984 at
the eviction of Wijers, a gigantic block of office buildings near the
Central Station in Amsterdam. Without residents or media expecting it,
in the night before the riot police were to empty the building, 2000
people showed up and, to their own surprise, held a sort of reunion of
the squatters' movement, with music, stories and much joviality at
finally seeing each other again. The night was not an expression of a
revival of Amsterdam squatting, or an endorsement of the 
anti-suburbanization slogans of the Wijers residents; rather, the reunion
was a remembrance of a movement in which they had shared joys and
sorrows, but which was of no further use to them. When the following
morning, after some yanking and pulling by the police, they strolled
out of the squat as a group, they immediately lost track of each other
again. The slogan, »I'm not a part of the movement, the movement is a
part of me,« indicated that communality was not the context in which
they »fought a city battle,« but a sting which had stayed behind in
each individually.

For years already the phrase »the squatters' movement is dead« had been
appearing in the (inside) media. But this imprecation was never very
convincing, considering that in the squatters' movement accord was
never reached about where the terminus in fact was. Neither had anyone
ever succeeded in forcing its downfall. Squatting went on, unreasoning,
whether as »movement« or as structures to be restored. Different from
what befell, for example, the Berlin Bewegung(ITAL). With the death of
Klaus-Jürgen Rattay on September 22, 1981, during a series of
evictions, that movement was assigned a definitive end. Afterwards a
debate broke loose in Berlin over what exactly »the death of the
movement« meant, until on May 1, 1984, the last squats there were
either evicted or legalized. Yet in Amsterdam there was also such a
vanishing point. 



The November 23, 1978, clearance of the Nicholas Beetstraat-Jacob van
Lennepstraat corner house in the Kinker district of Amsterdam is
praised in current creation narratives as the step up to a squatters'
movement which in 1980 no longer steered clear of violent resistance.
The pictures on film show it. On that day, squatters, who stood three
rows deep with arms linked to passively stop the eviction, were beaten
up with batons while shouting, »No violence, no violence!« It was clear
that this would not happen again: »In answer to the senseless
provocations of the authorities it's difficult to stay a bit reasonable
yourself. A crowd stirred up has such an unheard-of energy, if that's
unleashed the professional brawlers will be nowhere,« stated the
nonviolent activists afterwards.

When the Groote Keyser got an eviction notice at the end of '79 and was
rebuilt into a fortress, the collective feeling was that the lesson of
'78 now had to be taken through to the extreme. The shared certainty
that the squat would be actively defended went so far that rumors made
the rounds »that there were people who'd decided to fight till the
death.« This worriless preparation for the unknown kept the fury alive
which made of a motley group of neighborhoods, houses and individuals
»the collected Amsterdam squat groups.« As a sign that they would »go
on« to the bitter end, the circle with the arrow borrowed from Hobo
language was elevated to squatting symbol.

In the Vondelstraat it would become clear what it meant in concrete
terms to cross the border of violence. »There was one time I was really
very scared,« says Erik. »That was at the Vondelstraat when that
helicopter came and they said they were going to shoot. Then out of the
morning grayness the whole mess of them came marching up.  There were
still so few of us. My legs were shaking - from overexhaustion too, I
think. I was scared, very scared, like, now people are going to die.«
Despite tanks, forceful charges and mass brick-throwing, no one died.
The magic moment was passed over. On April 30, 1980, too, despite the
flood of rumors about two victims, death remained no more than a
threat. 

Despite ever harsher means by the authorities - smoking out squatters
and injuring them with tear and vomit gas, drawn pistols, vans that
drove into crowds and summary jurisdiction of spies - the riot code
born in 1980 stood firm on the side of the squatters. The riot code was
aimed at maintaining the legitimacy of justified rage, which needed to
spent through honest means. New forms of action like the bank
expeditions backed away from confrontation; they stopped short at the
limit of the mollie (molotov cocktail) and the pistol. These methods
were reserved for the case that there might be a death - »If we're shot
at, we'll shoot back« - and not before. In the preparation for every
riot lay apprehension, »whether they'll force us to go one step further
again.« But the feeling prevailed that if you did that, »something
massive would happen.« The fear of (but also the desire for) the hell
that would break loose meant that neither a death nor the use of a
mollie was allowed to be included in the strategy. In the private
sphere there was no taboo on incorporating death in the thought play
about the next riot, but at meetings and in statements for the outside
world it was not allowed to be mentioned. 

Maya to Simon in late 1980: »I can still hear you at a meeting about
defending the PH«kade saying, 'we have to consider that there could be
deaths.' I could have slugged you! For me that's not a consideration.«

Simon: »It was the discussion about, if we were going to defend
ourselves, what happens then? Well, you could see that afterwards.
There were goddamn sharpshooters.«

Maya: »If you're ready to get shot down, that seems so absurd in my
mind. I would never, never be ready to do that for something like that.
They can't push me that far!«

Simon: »It's weighing the interests. I've got it shitty now, I don't
see a single way ahead in my future. I only keep going for I don't
know what, because I still have some feeling of purpose. If I drop dead
now, it will make no difference. But if I have the feeling that there's
a point to getting shot down, well, fine. With that I'm mainly thinking
of publicity. If a squat is a symbol of an unjust eviction, of a policy
that's wrong, then it has a point. After all, I've got nothing...none
of this is mine. I've got nothing, so it doesn't matter a fuck to me.«

Simon here prosaically interprets the heroic vision of one's own death:
by dying at the right moment, no«future living finds purpose.  He is
ready to use his life as a means of action to bring the squatters'
movement to its climax. Maya radically rejects this sort of heroism;
she sees her life separately from the squatters' movement, as an
absolute value. But this fully conscious acceptance of martyrdom was
an exception. The contemplations concerning death revolved, rather,
around the death of the other. If a fellow activist should be murdered
on the street and the rest would thus be survivors, it was up to them
to redeem their guilt with respect to the death with the »massive«
something which was then to happen. That was the secret of the
squatters' movement.



On August 19, 1980, the tension evoked by the secret was released in a
remarkable way. After the clearance of the PH«kade that afternoon,
despite the mayor's assurance that no other evictions would follow,
Huidenstraat 19 was suddenly evacuated by plainclothesmen with drawn
pistols. When riot police appeared on the canal afterwards, »it was
completely obvious to us what was going to happen: they would go around
the corner and try to take the Groote Keyser too.« The Keyser, a
stone's throw away from the Huidenstraat, had already been two months
under reconstruction, under the leadership of Hein from the
Staatslieden district, but for that work little spirit existed in the
city. It preferred to move from one symbol to the other along with the
eviction wave. Yet the Keyser was still looked upon with awe as the
place where it all started. 

Immediately after word of evictions was spread, massive barricades were
thrown up at the bridges around the squat. The feeling that the final
battle that had never come that afternoon at the PH«kade was now about
to be fought rapidly accelerated the excitement to a fever pitch. But
nothing happened; the police did not attack. Then the question was:
what now? At that moment the police came to the squatters with a white
flag and proposed, »We won't clear the Keyser if you take no further
actions and give up the barricades.«  The question now was whether, in
exchange for the levelling of the barricades, it should be demanded
that all arrestees of that afternoon had to be immediately set free.
The police would never concede to such a demand, and it could provoke
a super«violent clearance of the Keyser. At a meeting called between
the barricades a bizarre argument arose about this between Hein's
group, who wanted the riot and thus really thought »we have to fight to
the death,« and a number of veterans from the Pijp district who blamed
Hein for wanting, by staking the symbol, to specifically force the
death of the squatters' movement. The eviction would have made the
Keyser a squat which could be fought over with the city for years to
come; kept, it could at the most stay legalized and lived in, whereby
it would lose its symbolic power. After the police had signed a paper
that they would clear »neither the Groote Keyser nor any other
squat...on the condition that no more squatting will take place on this
day and the barricades are cleared away in an extremely short time,«
the commotion was over. Since then, the collective secret has never
again expressed itself in the desire to go down together in an immense
Armageddon.

At the second »Close Down Dodewaard« blockade in late September 1981,
the police, for that matter, proved quite capable of forcing the death
of a movement. There were no deaths there either (though there were
rumors), but everyone present went away with the feeling »that they
were trying to kill us all with the tear gas« and that proved
sufficient, as far as no nukes were concerned, to do away with a
movement feeling which wasn't so lively anyway.


Thursday, October 25, 1985. The »Amsterdam Squatters' Movement« has one
symbol left, and a few enclaves which are organized more or less
according to the 1980 model. Against this symbol, the Staatslieden
district, the municipality has announced a final offensive, with the
goal of definitively putting a stop to the squatters' power in this
neighborhood. A separate police team with its own local station has
been set up to eliminate the squatting group. Its secret policy plan
has leaked two days before, and via City Radio been brought into the
open. On October 24, against all behavioral codes between neighborhood
and municipality, the storefront Schaepmanstraat 59«I is evicted. An
alarm is given and a group of about 100 people assembles in the public
squatters' bar The Sewer Rat. Karel: »I ended up there by chance
because I'd been asked that afternoon by a friend to help squat a flat
in the Okeghemstraat. The whole group that was sitting in the Schinkel
district waiting for the meeting address decided to bicycle to the
Staats when the alarm came, because it was obvious that this was the
beginning of the big eviction wave the city had been going on about
for years. In front of the Sewer Rat we stood waiting about another
hour in the sun. When we saw that the child of the woman who'd just
been evicted had red hair, we decided to help with the resquat. Then
there was a little meeting inside the Rat. Piet asked if we really felt
like resquatting, because there were cops in the building. I'll never
forget the surprise on his face when everyone, without hesitating,
roared 'yes.' 'It's never been done before,' he said carefully.«

The group, armed with table legs, sets out for the Schaepmanstraat,
about a 100«meter walk. At the resquat no one turns out to have brought
along a crowbar and the door is pounded in with battle weapons. When
the first person tries to climb inside through a bashed«open door
panel, he is shot in the arm by one of the officers who are in the
house. After much yelling by the resquatters the police climb over the
balcony to a neighboring house, where they can stand and watch the
further course of events without being further harrassed. Karel: »I was
standing there on the street wondering what all was suddenly going on,
I hadn't been at a riot in ages. Neighbors were hanging out the
windows and yelled that if the street was going to be barricaded, we
could use their old trailer. The sidewalk got broken up a bit, but it
still didn't amount to much. Suddenly a cop car drives through the
street just like that, to case the situation, but it was chased away by
flying rocks. Then a rock crashed inside and a minute later I see
someone run out of the house and plop down in front of me on the
sidewalk. 'Shot in the arm' was going around. It didn't look so
impressive anyway. It didn't really sink in either, after all no one
had ever been shot by police before. Later the guy was taken away in an
ambulance. I thought, that new eviction policy is already tainted with
blood, from now on they'll think twice about coming and evicting
stuff.«

The flat one floor up is moved into by a group of regular Sewer Rat
customers, who begin to throw in rocks to be used as ammunition. They
had been waiting for weeks for a hefty confrontation with the local
team. Karel: »When it got through that the riot police were
approaching, Piet stood there with a megaphone hollering out a window
that everyone had to get in the building. It seemed like a good idea to
me, the safest place anyhow. Once we were inside and the downstairs
door was barricaded shut, it turned out Piet had left the building
again. Out the windows you saw the rocks whizzing onto the flat hats
who were supposed to come wipe the street clean. Then I realized that
the situation that afternoon would be something different than I'd 
just estimated.«

About 50 squatters are there, spread through the building, and manage
to ward off the first attack. Karel: »It lasted forever after that.
The riot police were spread out all over the square diagonally in front
of the building. As soon as they came closer they got roof tiles over
them. Harry took a swig from a beer bottle, but there was ammonia in
it for pouring out on the cops.« Harry: »Then I left through the back
garden with Betsie and a guy who'd got hit on the head with a rock, to
find a doctor, but we were immediately arrested. Betsie was thrown back
out of the police car again fast, but we two were driven to the
hospital and brought in in handcuffs and examined. The doctor said I
had to drink a lot and if I'd swallowed any of the ammonia it could go
wrong. I could choke. At Headquarters I quickly started claiming I was
really short of breath. Then within two hours they kicked me back out
onto the street.«

Karel: »In the Schaepmanstraat that afternoon there were negotiations
out the window with a cop over unopposed withdrawal and no eviction,
but what did we have to offer in exchange? We started to play games on
the stairway to kill time ('I'm going on a trip and I'm taking
along...'). Then in the setting sun on the roof opposite us, we saw
Hein appear, like a sort of mythical figure, waving and everything.
That was a kick. Then we agreed to strike back at the riot police one
more time. Not much discussion was necessary. It was more of a
sporting exploit. The fact was we were stuck and the outside crew who
were supposed to rescue us were nowhere in sight. Strangely enough
everyone was pretty relaxed; a sort of military sobriety had come over
us.«

Despite a tremendous rain of street rocks, roof tiles, windows with
frames and all, beams, doors, and paving stones from the building, at
6:00 the riot police succeed in occupying the house once more. Some of
the squatters manage to escape through a neighboring house over the
street, but 32 people are arrested in and around the building with much
violence and taken into custody at Headquarters. 



A day later, Friday around 4:00, a group of 200 squatters outfitted
with helmets, clubs and leather jackets advances from the Sewer Rat to
resquat the Schaepmanstraat for the second time. The group is thwarted
by a platoon of riot police at the corner of Schaepman« and Van
Hallstraat. »Rocks, smoke bombs and a single mollie ZIJN HUN DEEL.«
Then an attempt is made to set the nearby wooden municipal outpost
building on fire, »because the city isn't keeping up its end of the
bargain.« But a beginning fire goes out quickly. After the first
collision between squatters and riot police, the former withdraw at an
intersection to regroup for a second attack. 

Paul was there too: »The mood was that we'd recapture the house however
we could. Everyone was standing close together. The riot police stayed
in front of the Schaepmanstraat. Piet had a radio and right at the
moment it was getting quiet, the 5:00 news came on with the report that
one of the arrested squatters had died in the police cell. Then Piet
turned the radio up loud and held it above his head so everyone could
hear. It was like a bomb had fallen on that square. First everyone was
standing close together listening, but then everyone suddenly moved
back and away and finally Piet was standing there by himself with the
radio over his head. Till he must have thought, what am I doing here,
and walked away. Actually you'd expect that the reaction to the news
would be a huge outburst of rage, but instead it seemed like the people
didn't know what to do anymore. The motivation to keep on with the
resquat had disappeared in a flash. Everyone was silent, at the most
talking quietly to each other. It was soon known that it must be Hans
Kok, maybe from people who'd been to take packages to the prisoners. We
decided to go back to the Sewer Rat to deal with the news. People
couldn't believe it, it hit harder than a smack with a baton. Maybe
something played a part like, shit, if they destroy someone who's
already in a cell, then they can shoot us down here on the street like
that too.«

The police had known of the death since 12:00 and were present en masse
in the Staatslieden district. The group of resquatters which had fallen
apart and turned back to the Sewer Rat was being awaited in every
street, riot police vans tore towards them and it appeared that tear
gas would be shot, »but the wind wasn't right so they called it off.«
And, continues Paul, »so we had to run the gauntlet. A sort of
difficult route was chosen to come back to the Sewer Rat. There we were
with 200 people, the whole lot packed like sardines, and even before we
talked, what the plan was, we were suddenly surrounded by riot vans and
riot police got out with tear gas guns meant for us. They really had
this idea like, before it escalates, before the rage can express
itself, first we have to wipe it out, at least intimidate. Then the
riot police withdrew. They were just showing us what they could do.« A
second group is just hearing at the Sewer Rat that a squatter has died
in a cell: »Jesus Christ! Just murdered! Beat to a pulp and left to his
fate.« Then riot police appear once more on the small square outside
the caf∑«∑. The inside media report: »People are hardly able to jump out
of the way. Followed by a rain of rocks the van drives away.
Barricades are thrown up around the square and this time tear gas is
fired. People are chased away from the Sewer Rat and mostly followed
far into the neighborhood by plainclothesmen. Police everywhere, easily
300 riot police and virtually all the snatch squads. The Staatslieden
district is more or less closed off.«



An hour and a half later in the community center The Copper Button a
»mass meeting« is held, for which the press too is drummed up. The
dejection from the Sewer Rat appears to have moved into a following
phase: »We'll get them back.« Because of the spies present no concrete
plan of action could be discussed. Besides, there were far too many
riot police in the city to carry out a mass action. It was decided to
go back to the neighborhoods and »break up that night into small groups
and attack as many municipal institutions as possible.« Piet told the
press, »I have no authority over everyone here. I can imagine that
people are so angry they'll do very strange things. But that's for the
city to deal with.« There was no contact among the respective
neighborhoods until the demonstration, announced for the following day.
After five years it turned out that the secret about the death of the
other was so alive and well that everyone knew exactly what had to be
done now: the »massive« thing which had been waited for all these
years, now the magic moment had arrived to let it happen.

Paul: »It was really strange that Friday night. Suddenly everyone
seemed to have the same kind of click. Everyone had the idea, now we'll
use the ultimate means, just before the guns anyway: the mollie. Even
people who were generally moderate said, now it's gone too far, this
has to stop. Militancy had suddenly set in. That night was really amn
exceptional situation. Everyone went around with mollies in their
pockets, everyone had full gasoline cans and went to work with fire.
Now you could; it was the new action method. The fear threshold was
gone. It didn't matter if you were picked up either. I think there was
really a feeling of justification, like, I'm within my rights. You can
bust me but it doesn't matter a fuck anyway. Normally you don't set
cop cars on fire in front of a police station, you think it over a
couple of weeks, how you'll go about it. Then it happened
spontaneously, wham. Saturday I ran into people who said, I thought we
were the only ones who'd go do something so heavy. And everyone did
it.« The fire obsession went so far that, according to reports, certain
gas stations in the city, where suddenly all kinds of heavy types were
ceaselessly streaming up to fill gas cans, didn't want to provide any
more fuel, »because you guys just set fires with it.« In addition a
story went around that »people you'd never have expected it from were
fooling with timing mechanisms.« At least 40 lightning strikes took
place, including arson at the traffic police (damage: 1.2 million
guilders), at municipal outposts, an empty prison, the city records
office, builders' huts, garbage cans, a tour boat, the city hall. And
other cities would not be left in the dust either: in Nijmegen
automobile tires on the freeway catch fire, in Utrecht windowpanes
perish at municipal buildings...



Late Friday night the squatters' movement made its secret public. Under
what circumstances Hans Kok had died were at that moment irrelevant.
People had pictured the death of the other on an urban battlefield
amidst clubbing riot police and charging vans, but that someone in a
cell had now died a miserable death, »À la South Africa or Chile,« made
in fact no difference. Through his death he became the one waited for
for so many years; Hans Kok was »the other.« All suppressed movement
feelings could now be brought to the surface in all their compelling
pathos. The sting of the fear felt all those years at various actions,
and of the pain of all those times you had run away when you should
have fought back, comes spewing out when someone has stayed standing
and perished for it. The guilt of having narrowly escaped death so
often, to have survived such heavy things that it was only by chance
that you walked away in one piece, and the knowledge that someone had
now died the death that the authorities had had planned for everyone,
placed Hans Kok far above the concurrence of circumstances that had
caused his death. This was something the media could not fathom; for
them a »normal« arrestee had died and what were those squatters
getting so excited about? That after so many years of loss of the
squatters' movement there was still a large group of people who were
deeply hurt by the first death on the side of the squatters, was beyond
their comprehension. Fear of and longing for death are extramedial;
they cannot be converted into obligation«free information. That on
Friday night the limits of fire hazard had been exceeded on a large
scale proves that the intention was not to convert emotional intensity
into understandable performances. The censorship prescribed by the
media on actions which »are bad for the public opinion« were radically
shoved aside for a night. The actions were not aimed at an imaginary
viewing crowd which had to be mobilized or influenced, but were an
expression of the desire to raise a real crowd to collectively rage out
the anger and the grief.

The fire actions were still being done by relatively few groups. But at
the demonstration the next afternoon a few thousand people were
suddenly present. From this it became apparent that those who hadn't
joined in actual (squat) actions in a long time were still tuned in on
the secret: for them too Hans Kok had become, in one blow, the other.
They had responded to the call of the nightly signals of fire and
falling glass. But now that the secret was openly acknowledged and
raged out, it had lost its power. The demo which began en masse on the
Beursplein quickly thinned out in a series of confrontations with the
police who were already present. »A whole lot of people lost track of
each other because they had to run from riot cops and plainclothesmen.«

On Friday night all those who still considered themselves part of the
squatters' movement had rediscovered their unity, by without previous
arrangement all providing a series of fragmented events with the same
mass symbol, flames and tinkling glass. The unity of Saturday's
demonstration had the same emotional charge as the night before, but
the real crowd did not succeed in staying together. It could have been
a funeral procession, in which all concerned could have collectively
carried the squatters' movement to its grave. In raging out its secret
driving force, it could have come to a halt on the spot where the first
squatter had died. The demo after the death of Hans Kok could have
become that vanishing point, but the police, afraid of a new upsurge in
»squatting incidents,« kept the crowd in permanent motion with charges
and plainclothesmen«paranoia. Thus it stayed unclear, for the
demonstrators themselves too, what they had in common that day, what
good it was doing them to take to the streets en masse for this
particular cell death.



The rage after the announcement of Hans Kok's death derived its power
from the fact that a squatter had been killed. The police immediately
issued a press statement in which his death was made an apolitical
overdose, in the certainty that in squatters' circles this could count
on minimal attention. On Friday evening from the squatters' side a
demand was formulated: »There must be an independent investigation
into the cause of Hans' death by doctors appointed by us.« This was an
attempt to get medial legitimation for the rage which at that moment
was in its construction phase. But the press didn't want to hear much
about the squatters' arguments and blindly followed the version
propagated by police PR. The demand for an investigation also included
an element which pushed Hans Kok aside and incorporated him along with
the many anonymous cell deaths. This »broadening« was correct from the
standpoint of the activists, who had already tried before to file
complaints against the circumstances in police cells and never been
listened to. But that his was a cell death was less important than the
fact that he was a squatter, and therefore the connection remained
abstract. 

In the call for an independent investigation, however, the factor
which would dissolve the rage into medical, scientific and legal
details had alraedy been introduced: it made the cause of death a
problem for the experts. Precisely as the rage over the housing
shortage in '80«'81 had become entangled in a juridic network around
purchase, claims, anonymous subpoenas and other procedures and
arguments incomprehensible to the uninitiated, the Hans Kok case passed
through a similar cycle. The media too figured out after awhile that
the police had simply publicized some random versions of the death in
order to camouflage their own mistakes and negligence. They in turn
began to press for more investigation. After a closetful of reports
and counterinvestigation, accompanied by stacks of newspaper clippings
and chief«editorial commentaries, all the research ultimately produced
no more than private security guards in the cell block, to prevent the
overtaxed guards from making mistakes again with undesired publicitary
consequences. 



Hans Kok died because the police let him die. But he died also because
he, in any case to a certain extent, wanted to: during his arrest he
swallowed a bottle of methadone tablets and he knew what kind of
consequences that might have. Hans Kok had said to his parents that »he
wouldn't see 30.« His death fit into the no«future heroism that Simon
had already formulated in 1980, and which is part of the secret
arsenal of dreams of every life«artist who wants more than flyers and
peaceful demos. One who gets involved in a battle with adversaries, in
the end, does not escape either accepting his own death as a real
option or fleeing. But the readiness to put your life on the line
creates, along with the fear that you could actually die, the desire to
get acquainted with the boundary. In the short moment of violence,
death, which is normally denied or misjudged, is brought into
circulation. Not as a danger to be taken into account, but rather as a
familiar acquaintance whose presence in the background is soberly
assessed.

Hans Kok died and the squatters survived the collective longing for
death. That he DE EER AAN ZZELF HEEFT GEHOUDEN never had to be made
secret, as has happened for years in kilos of investigation reports.
And they could have been proud that someone had finally done what they
had secretly wished upon the movement. Hans Kok was not the ultimate
victim of increasing repression; rather, he was the most radical
activist (whether or not he wanted to be). He took the accumulated
intensity through to its extreme, and made it final. Activism after
Hans Kok had lost its radical naivet∑š∑ for good. 



After Hans Kok had died under the watching eye of the police, the
squatters' symbol appropriately appeared on his grave, which meant that
squatting would go on to the bitter end. But after that it also lost
its impact for good; it had become a memorial. One year after the
death of Hans Kok, on October 25, 1986, a memorial procession traveled
from the Haarlemmerplein through the Schaepmanstraat to Police
Headquarters. If the demonstration itself has been rather quiet, before
Headquarters a total silence suddenly falls. For minutes, everyone
stands, says nothing, does nothing; a drum beats a slow rhythm, and
then it too falls silent. After two minutes the street lights go on.
When people further down start to smash in the windows of the police
station, the sound comes as a relief: the situation is normal again.
The wreaths and flowers brought along are laid against the wall. It
grows dark, and then the riot police appear. The large group runs away
and is followed far into the Kinker district. A number of people, among
them ex«resistance fighters and the father of Hans Kok, link arms and
form a line around the wreaths. A line of riot police halts before the
group and stays standing in formation for half an hour. Everywhere
around them are riot vans. Slowly but surely the press crowds in. The
TV network news arrives with a large camera. The group around the
flowers shouts, »Back off! No violence!« Then the riot police suddenly
take a step backwards and begin to ram into them with batons. The
flowers are trampled.
When the squatters' movement began in late '78 in the Jacob van
Lennepstraat the situation had been the same, except that then they had
been defending a squat and now they were defending memorial wreaths.
The circle was round. Rage over a »failing policy,« that you could
stake your life in the battle, had made place for rage over the
desecration of the death of the other; not the right to a place to
live, the right to one's own life, but the right to mourn, the right to
an own death, had become an absolute value. In Hans Kok the squatters'
movement mourned for itself, for its own standstill, its own death. The
total silence which suddenly fell before Police Headquarters, where he
had died, was the silence of a movement which realized it had died here
itself. The memorial wreaths were meant for it. But there was not only
reason for sorrow; that the chronicle of the squatters' movement ended
here also came as a relief. That terminus which had been awaited for
years had finally been reached. And everyone knew it. Two years after
his death, Hans Kok is no longer collectively commemorated.