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February 9, 2015

Commune of Hippie Squatters at 144 Picadilly, London, September 1969

On September 21, 1969, the Police stormed the squat in Piccadilly to evict the squatters who had occupied the building for the previous six days. It took about three minutes for the police to storm the 100-room building. The squatters resisted, and as the police advanced, they were bombarded by water-filled plastic balls. Roof slates, stones, pieces of wood and iron bars were also thrown from the roof.

A second wave of police followed on, and in the end, the operation involved over 200 policemen - more than one for each of the squatters left in the building. However, there was little resistance once the police were in the building, and there were no serious casualties, although a spokesman for Scotland Yard said several weapons had been found in the building, including lead piping and a “Molotov cocktail” petrol bomb.

(Photographed by Terence Spencer, via LIFE archives)


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