By Frank Morales and Bonnie Faulkner
(This extraordinary 2003 interview from Bonnie Faulkner’s Guns and Butter radio program is currently making the rounds of the Internet. Faulkner’s guest is the radical episcopal priest Frank Morales. The highlights of the interview concern 1) the thriving squatters movements in New York City – which is virtually invisible – even in the so-called “alternative media” and 2) the federal “spatial de-construction” program to suppress inner city activism by deliberately destroying ghetto housing.
Morales has been a major squatting organizer since the late 70s in the South Bronx and the Lower Eastside – two of the areas selected for housing demolition. In 2014, he and other squatters offered a public forum called The ABC’s of Squatting in NYC
As he and fellow activists describe at the forum, some of the buildings he and other squatters occupied and rehabilitated were re-taken by the police and demolished while other became legally recognized cooperatives through the hard work of Morales, other squatters and neighborhood supporters.
Morales and Faulkner’s discuss of the government’s deliberate destruction of inner city housing (which happened all over the country) is more ominous. The “spatial de-construction” policy Morales describes came out of a report Samuel Huntington wrote in 1975 (Crisis in Democracy) for the Trilateral Commission – to address the wave of riots that sweep America’s inner cities in the late sixties. In the report, Huntington describes the US as suffering from an “excess of democracy.” In his view, the best way to remove this excess is to make inner city residents homeless by destroying their housing.
The report also recommends reducing their access to high education, as college education was allegedly found to increase blacks’ inclination to riot.
It strikes me as no coincidence that the War on Drugs and movement to mass incarcerate African Americans began around the same time.
Morales also refers listeners to Chapter 17 of the Kerner Commission Report report, which came out in 1967.
He asserts that squatting is the largest political movement in the world and that 75% of the world’s power access housing via squatting.)
This is Guns and Butter.
There was too much democracy. Therefore, that was the reason for this massive protest, the anti-war movement, etc. Their analysis of the ‘60s had to do all with ‘too much democracy. We have to shrink democracy.’ So the shrinking of democracy, the analogy is planned shrinkage on the housing front. It’s to undercut the ability of people to organize if you take out their house.
I’m Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter, Frank Morales. Today’s show: The Squatter Movement: Seizing Housing. Frank Morales is a writer and researcher whose work has been published in Covert Action Quarterly, Global Outlook and Midnight Notes. He is the author of Police State America: U.S. Military Civil Disturbance Planning. He has written numerous articles including Non-Lethal Warfare, Operation Garden Plot, The War at Home,Operations Other Than War and Military Operations in Urban Terrain. Frank Morales is a New York City Lower East Side activist and squatter. Today we explore his work as a grassroots housing activist and leader of the squatter movement in New York City.
photo credit: User:EPO