The Bike House has been known as one of the more predominate animal rights activist houses in SLC. This partially led us to getting raided by the FBI and ATF twice last year. We were raided over two different cases, but really they were fishing for information and LOVE harassing activists. The first time, they kicked our door open at 10am. After the huge knock *BOOM BOOM BOOM* (a knock that still gives me Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) "FBI!", we were all pulled into the front room (some us in our underwear) and detained for 8 hours. The whole time trying to ask us questions (don't answer them, don't even look at them) while going through all of our private things like paper work, underwear drawers, and all of your gay porn lol. Before they leave they confiscate all of your computers, cell phones and Ipods then ask you to sign a list of the things they've confiscated (never sign). Basically you feel like you've been robbed and held, which you have but by the Federal government. Link 1. Link 2. Link 3.
The Second time we were raided was five months later. This time the ATF joined in because it was a warrant for information on the Walter Bond arson case and they accused us of harboring him. They once again showed up at around 10am and pulled us out of our beds and rounded us up. At least they let me put some shorts on before rushing me into the front room. One thing was very different about this raid and it was their interrogation tactics. This time they called us away one person at a time to talk. I'm sure they were trying this new tactic because they couldn't get us to talk during the last raid. Anyway one by one they took my roommates out back to question them. Oh course none of us knew what was going on which was most definitely the point and everyone was question for different time periods.
Now I have to bring this up because i think it definitely created a problem at the house after the raid. The way they were questioning us started to create some major tension among us. During a time like this its very important to keep your cool and to show complete unity among roommates. But after the second roommate came back from being questioned (I trust my roommates and everyone knows not to talk to the FBI) my roommate Peter lost it. He started accusing them of not knowing their rights. It was really really stupid and I don't know if he was just doing it to empress the girl he was with, (some obnoxious girl happened to be staying over the night with him and got caught in the raid) but he definitely should have know better. This just opened up other possibilities for the FBI to fuck with us.
When the agent in charge called my name I told him that I wasn't going to be separated from my roommates and I wasn't going with him. This created a really tense moment between the FBI and my roommates. I looked back and forth but there was no use. I really didn't know my rights when It came down to us being detained. What I should have asked was "will I be detained if I don't go with you?" But finding the right wording during these circumstances and seriously I'd rather just not say anything, go along with it and sue them later instead of getting arrested. I told him I won't be saying anything to him without a lawyer present and then followed him out the back.
When I walked out the back door I was surrounded by four large FBI/ATF(?) agents, a few wearing masks and all trying to look very menacing. The main agent walked me across the yard to a table in the sunlight to make me feel more comfortable. We sat and he started talking "Justin I know your not going to talk to me but hear me out..." He talked and talked, made completely false accusations (like saying that Walter lived at out house bah!). The whole time I counted the leaves in our trees and I watched my cat play in the yard.FBI officer:
"are you sure you don't want to tell me anything? It will be a lot easier for you."me:
"are we done here? good."
I was then rushed back in with the others and waited while everyone else took their turns.
Luckily (?) this raid lasted only about 6 hours. Probably because they knew where most everything was already from the previous raid. On their way out one of the agents backed his car into a cement post and did some major damage to his vehicle. When we heard the crash we all ran to the window and LAUGHED and CHEERED. Oh and he could hear us laughing. FUCKING KARMA.
Here is a few links about the raid on our house and some of my amazing roommates. Also this is a collective house and not one persons residence. Peter refers to "his house" being raided. It should read "our house" and also we let him move in because we thought he would be a positive addition to the house.Link 1 link 2The Squat Life.
The Bike House has been around now for about 8 years. We still haven't gone to court yep to officially fight to own the house. Mainly because some roommates either doubt we can do it, are afraid it will expose us, or just don't know if they can handle the battle.
Currently there are four of us living at the house. Three of us were here for the raids.
Everyone living at the house has to participate in some way while living there. There's a lot of up keep in an old place like this that under normal circumstances would be condemned. The house is fairly big with a couple rooms on the main floor and three in the basement. We also have a tree house some people choose to live in during the summer and a huge back yard where we have the garden, a compost, 2 car garage and another area that people use to live in but is now unlivable. The summer time is definitely easiest time to live in the house even though we don't have air-conditioning. Winter time is usually when we weed people out because it gets really cold. Theres no heat except for a small would stove and our own personal heaters in our rooms. Because of this we usually don't see each other a whole lot during winter time. Its just too damn cold. We still get together though throughout the winter and build a wood fire and do a little cooking to head it up a bit.
Anyway blah blah. I'm done. This post is long enough.
These last four years or so I've been living at the Bike House, one of the longest running squats in the U.S. Currently I've been living there longer then everyone else. They call me papa Justin...kidding. Its a completely communal vegan household...or we try to be. Lately everyone has gotten extremely lazy which is what you can't do when living this lifestyle. The whole point is to get away from the oppressive landlord and to live with and along side other people to make things easier for all. Also squatting allows you to focus on more important things in life like actually living and being able to explore your own creativity and do something meaningful instead of focusing on paying off debt and catching up on your bills.