Daniel Gauntlett needed a roof over his head to survive the freezing winter temperatures. But because of recent parliamentary machinations, it was illegal for Daniel Gauntlett to seek shelter inside an empty bungalow. The police were called when he tried to enter. So he froze to death on the veranda of the building which could have protected him.
In a local news report on the story, one particularly poignant line stands out, highlighting how this man’s death should have never happened:
And so Mr Gauntlett, had taken the fatal decision to abide by the law.
This is the corner into which the law–Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill–has pushed people. So many must now make a decision like Gauntlett’s: to freeze to death a law-abiding citizen, or to survive and swell the prison population of people punished for desiring a roof over their heads.
I wonder if this very human matter was given a second of thought by the politicians who passed this law, or whether their thoughts only went to the owners of property they wanted to leave empty and didn’t want it to become a home because it was theirs–the perceived real victims. Through lies and distortions, they shoved this legislation through. If you want to learn the truth about squatting, have a read through Squash Campaign’s resources.
And share this story–and these resources–with those that you know. The politicians decided to force vulnerable people to choose between death and prison, because an empty building staying empty means a world more to them.
Sign Squash’s petition, a government e-petition which could lead to a debate if it is signed enough. While I don’t feel petitions to be a particularly effective form of campaigning, I feel it’s only right for them to have to discuss the blood on their hands already, and how it will only get worse if they insist on pursuing this.
Nobody should have to make these fatal decisions like Daniel Gauntlett was forced to.Yet this is a natural consequence of a law criminalising people turning an empty space into a home.