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Jul 26, 19

New London, CT: Anarchists Reclaim Land Left to Rot by Eminent Domain

Report on how after land was seized through eminent domain and then left to rot by developers, anarchists reclaimed the space with an orchard and food forest.

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of capitalist interests and signed the death warrant for the neighborhood bordering Fort Trumbull.

The neighborhood was in the way of a planned expansion by Pfizer, and the battle to stop it was a landmark case in determining whether or not eminent domain could be used on behalf of private corporations. It was a long and hard struggle that ended with people’s rights eroding to the forces of capital, with the full backing of the state.

To add insult to injury; once the tax breaks for Pfizer expired, they left, leaving the demolished neighborhood an undeveloped wasteland.

This recent example of struggle with power is not the only time the neighborhood gained notoriety. Starting in the 1880s, peaking in the 1920s, and tapering off until the 1970s, the Fort Trumbull district was a haven for Italian anarchists. New London hosted many international anarchist thinkers of the day and was even the site of rowdy confrontations between fascist black shirts and anti-fascists over the unveiling of a Christopher Columbus statue.

This story was largely forgotten and only known to an ever dwindling number of people until their story was recently published in a book and shared by our local paper.

Over a decade later, the neighborhood remained over grown, unused, undeveloped.

We had been casually planting crops there since 2017, in addition to our other community efforts, but when a comrade from the west coast reached out about Green June, we had an idea.

For the first time in decades, anarchy reclaimed this forgotten stretch of stolen land. Starting June 24th, we began installing fruit trees as well as strawberry plants, raspberries, onions, and potatoes. It’s a start, but it’s only the beginning. We do this in honor of the rebels that came before us: radicals and those who simply tried to defend their homes from capitalist assault.

For the first time in years, the former neighborhood of Fort Trumbull has been taken back by the people.

We have officially announced our presence in the space now that we have over a dozen trees planted. The Fort Trumbull Memorial Orchard is on track to have nearly 50 trees by the end of the season. We have modified the large sign at the entrance to the former neighborhood and have planted a sign in front of the orchard itself. We have received an overwhelmingly positive response from the community and hope to continue this project with the eventual goal of turning this wasteland into a food forest with a full compliment of fruit trees, bushes, herbs, shade trees, and edible, symbiotic ground cover to create an ecosystem bursting with food and life in full defiance to the state and its laws.

When we first announced our efforts to plant trees throughout the city, several liberal nonprofits reached out to us encouraging us to fall in under their efforts to plant fruit trees provided we follow their burdensome and pointless rules. Months later they are still talking and we have an orchard and trees going in all over the city. Direct action gets the goods y’all.

So far we have received no interference from the city government, we suspect this is because it’s re-election time and destroying an orchard would be very bad PR. Time will tell how this project will he treated by the state, but one thing is for sure, we aren’t leaving without a fight and the people are on our side.

Solidarity today, tomorrow and forever from all of us at New London Mutual Aid Collective.

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