Guerrilla Benchers replace street furniture removed to discourage homeless people

The Camden Council in London removed many public benches, apparently in an effort to chase out vagrants. A group of Guerrilla Benchers were offended by this, and responded by reinstalling their own benches on the sites of the old street furniture.

Camden council in London decided to remove several public benches, for the benefit of the public last year. Along with a scheme to convert all bus stops to be fitted with un-usable benches. The basic plan seems to be to move on undesirables and homeless people away as they don't fit in with the aesthetics of the area. Rather than addressing these problems they have taken the usual tactic of moving them on and hoping that someone else will deal with them...

...Due to the colossal and inorganised nature of local councils, and their cunning disguises the guerrilla benchers were not approached or questioned by anyone as they installed the benches.

Unfortunately however the drills ran out of batteries just after the first bench had been installed. In true workman style it was obviously time for a fry-up breakfast and cup of tea whilst the batteries re-charged.

Guerrilla Benching (via Beyond the Beyond)


        1. Pretty sure the Guerrilla Benchers weren’t trying to be either, and to top it off, were helping people.

          Ironically, I was trying to be snarky. :P

    1. Well? It’s one way to prevent hypothermia.
      If Camden are removing benches to stop the homeless sleeping on them, they must have already done a pretty good job chasing the homeless from the more secluded and safer places to sleep. It is dangerous sleeping rough.

  1. I noticed this kind of stuff when I lived in NYC. Benches could be hard to find outside of a park and covered areas were practically unheard of unless they were the entrance to a building.

    It’s a weird kind of dynamic, not wanting to let people get out of the rain or sit down.

    Sometimes you’d even see spikes poking out of things that someone just MIGHT want to sit on.

    1. You should check out busstops in all of southern NY too. Metal benches, with ‘armrest’ dividers to discourage lying down, and flimsy, open to the air shelters that don’t even keep out the rain.

      It’s gotten to the point where not only is it attempted homicide on the homeless, but regular busgoers are at a risk for frostbite just from sitting down.

  2. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” – Anatole France

  3. Not trying to put down their work, but I like the (intentional?) irony of criticising Camden Council for its disorganisation, then in the next sentence admitting that they couldn’t even remember to charge the batteries of their tools.

      1. Not tasked, much less paid.

        But the way they write it up, it sure sounds like they appreciate the irony.

    1. Camden High Street has an excellent public toilet (opposite the station, under the road). Considering the location, it’s amazing that it exists.

      It has lots of bright white porcelain and chunky copper pipes and brass fittings.

      (I can’t find a photo.)

  4. I wanted to take the anti-lying-down dividers off the benches by the state capitol in Madison, WI but I chickened out. I remember some asshole who moved here from Chicago complaining about having to step over homeless people on the way to his condo.

  5. Even if it’s an old piece, it’s a timeless need.

    I don’t know how it is in England, but in the US bench removal has become the standard in most cities. Some of you guys mention benches with dividers, but that’s just the beginning. Even here in SF, which is notorious for its tolerance of the homeless, benches for bus stops have been replaced with flappy bits of plastic at roughly butt-height, which arguably even pass for seats.

    I don’t know who conceived of the notion that it’s better to tear down the whole public infrastructure than risk a handful of people getting a free ride, but it reminds me of the notion that it’s better to execute an innocent person than let a guilty one go free.

    I am a (mostly) innocent person, I pay my taxes, and I want a bench to set my butt upon, even at the risk that a transient may have slept upon it also.

    1. I don’t know who conceived of the notion that it’s better to tear down the whole public infrastructure than risk a handful of people getting a free ride

      Ronald Reagan?

  6. If you check out the third photograph on the following webpage, you’ll see an example of the sort of seating now appearing within the public realm in Camden (well, the posh areas).  These seats are a thing of beauty.  But sadly the issues of homelessness, poverty and incidences of rough sleeping only increase under the ConDem Government.

  7. Well, sad to see that my earlier comment about the reality of what happens when the homeless are allowed to camp out on public facilities was deleted.  I’m sorry if “reality” doesn’t jive with progressive politics expressed from a distance.

      1. Antonius,

        I truly don’t see how a physical description of those living full-time in bus shelters and on vanalized subway benches, and their actions, is “hate speech.”  I didn’t reference any particular race, creed, religion, etc. 

        No, it’s not pretty, but it’s real.  Not all the homeless are Nice Guys Down on their Luck, doling out homey nuggets of advice to those enlightened enough.  Lots of them are dangerous, and crazy to boot.

        These people have appropriated, full-time, resources inteded for all, and made them unusable to the general public as well as being a menace.

        1. I appreciate your perspective. On the other hand, since my well-behaved neighbor of 5 years put a bullet through my bedroom wall about 4 feet from me, I don’t find the homeless especially frightening compared to “normal” people.

          1.  Well, YEAH.  I’m not saying that there ISN’T a massive problem in long-term permanent care for the chronically mentally ill, especially the criminally insane, as well as lifelong junkies–and I’m pretty sure there’s a ton of overlap between all 3 groups.

            FWIW, a cousin of mine did outpatient behavioral therapy with street people as part of her training, and a lot of hardcore street alcoholics are apparently schizophrenic to some degree once properly tested for it.  It turns out that alcohol is a surprisingly good, clinically effective short-term antipsychotic.  So, a lot of these guys are self-medicating. 

  8. It always amazed me the lengths a community will go through to keep people from ‘loitering’. Ornate spike rails on planter boxes so that no one can sit down. Bus stop seats that tilt to where you’re not really sitting but taking 2/3 of the weight off of your feet. Etc. Then they’re the same communities that always cry about how we’ve lost our sense of community. Baffling.

    1. Spike rails are usually for pigeons. If there’s a real issue of anybody shitting in public, they’re the first ones that come to mind.

      EDIT: Sorry, I just realized you’re talking about little fence-type railings. I was thinking of spiked plates like you’d see on ledges.

      1. And worst of all, those anti-pigeon railings do jack shit, at least in NYC.  They dodder and do these up-down dancemove thingies and then settle in with their feet at odd little angles–I’ve seen it happen.

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