A few years into the 21st century, the Dutch corporate media ran a series of stories accusing the squatting movement of escalating violence and criminality. This was bewildering: twenty-five years earlier, squatters had regularly engaged in pitched battles with police, but by the time of the news coverage the movement was comparatively tame and weak. In 2010, following up on the public relations work carried out by corporate journalists, the Dutch parliament made squatting illegal.
When the squatting movement had been at its peak and thousands of people routinely participated in violent confrontations with the authorities, it was impossible to brand it “extremist” because so many people were involved that it was understood as a part of Dutch society. Ironically, it was the decline of such tactics and organizing that enabled the press to brand squatters extremists, paving the way for their formal criminalization. Faced with this smear campaign, the only hope for the squatting movement would have been a resurgence of widespread participation in confrontational activity. This should serve as a warning to all who react to corporate slander by distancing themselves from militant organizing.