Nine Tenths of the Law
by Hannah Dobbz
AK Press (2012)
$21 300 pgs.
The last several months have held many victories for the radical squatting movement in the United States: in Oakland, Steve DeCaprio gained legal ownership of his squatted house, in New York City the MUseum of Reclaimed Urban Space has become the first American squat that is also a museum of the Lower East Side’s squatting movement. In the literary world, Nine Tenths of the Law, the first history of squatting in America, has been released by AK press. The author, Hannah Dobbz is an Oakland-based squatter and filmmaker of the 2008 documentary Shelter: A Squatumentary. In NToTL, Dobbz chronicles the activity of squatting in America, retelling American history as a series of European squats made on Indian land, moving forward in time to the Occupy Movement, which, in many areas, did not vanish after it was forced out of public squares, but instead moved out of sight and into abandoned buildings.
NToTL is chock-full of excellent stories of police raids and the creation of new houses, as well as a smattering of legal tidbits and advice. Also, there is a hearty section on the co-op movement, detailing the dynamics of radical collectives who feel peevish about trespassing, and work to gain their houses through legal means. As we attempt to build amazing lives liberated from bosses and authorities, we need resources and space. Hannah’s book is a guiding light as we work towards housing this movement. It is also an excellent investigation of an underground cultural movement, and is great fodder for any US history nerd. (hayley)