It had been a home to around 10 Afghans
Autonomous food distro
Ruling party's offices after anti-cuts demo
Perhaps more importantly, it was a brilliant opportunity to work with migrants by sharing information and providing tools for migrants to build their own resistance; whether that be in the form of protest, simply making their own meals, or just having a good time in defiance of deliberate a policy to keep them in a position of dependency and powerlessness.
--------Here's a summary from last week:
Monday 6th September:
Calais Migrant Solidarity held a party in the park. Dutch activist kitchen Rampenplan provided delicious vegan food and there was drumming and a sound system playing African beats, reggae and Arabic music. Everyone had a good time though a few of the migrants were scared off by the early appearance of Police Nationale and two BACs (undercover cops), who didn´t try to catch anyone. The party continued until about midnight, with the BAC officers who'd been cruising around for most of the night being seen-off by activists when they tried to enter the park a second time.
--------Tuesday 7th September:
- Africa House raid
At 8am, there was a big raid on 'Africa House', the warehouses occupied by east African migrants. The CRS were surprised to find themselves inhibited by the presence of 12 CMS activists, who kept a close eye on them, following each individual cop very closely as they searched the warehouse, in an attempt to make sure that no damage was done. They went away without finding anyone to arrest, but raided again after some of the activists had left, and decided to arrest one guy who showed them papers. The Ethiopians were defiant, taunting the cops from the roof. Two more vans of CRS turned up, plus an arrest van. They blocked the remaining activists at the gate and stormed back into Africa House. There were shouts and crashing noises. At this point one of the activists tried to get back into the compound, but she was quickly caught, punched and slammed into the wall by three cops.
Soon afterwards the CRS came back out of Africa House with one guy who was bleeding from the leg, with a dusty boot mark on the back of his jacket. He was put in the arrest van. The cops tried to steal one of the activists’ bags, and attempted to intimidate another who'd been filming the scene. All the while, Calais residents drove past on their way to work. Business as usual in this town.
People later discovered that the cops had poured cooking oil all over the stairs, inside migrants’ bags and over their sleeping bags. This is a common tactic employed by the French public order police. They also found a Bible written in Tigrinyan (language of Eritrea), tore out pages, covered it in oil and threw it in the dirt.
Between the two raids at Africa House four guys were also arrested under the bridge and two on their way to food distribution.
- No Borders join unions on general strike march
That same morning, No Borders activists joined thousands of people on a demonstration called by trade unions in protest against the Sarkozy government’s cuts programme, which coincided with the day-long general strike. We leafleted, and marched side by side with Calais workers — including many who work in the port and on the tunnel — with the message that French workers and migrants have a common struggle. At one point the demonstration stopped for a while outside the office of the UMP (political party of Sarkozy). Here demonstrators showed their disgust at the ruling politicians by covering the office in eggs and rubbish, then breaking open the letter box and pouring the contents of various rubbish sacks through into the inside of the office, with rousing cheers and a festive atmosphere.
- Transnational party!
That evening No Borders activists, sans-papiers, and many Calais locals held a party with live music at a local bar. Two members of the Australian rebel sound crew “Combat Wombat” opened the night with beats recorded from around the world, and then held an open mic session for visiting MCs & anyone who had something to shout about. Raps in Arabic, Amharic, Farsi and other languages with plentiful chants of “No Borders – No Nations” as well as prolific expressions of people´s sentiments about the police, who cruised slowly back and forth on the street outside through the night. When they stopped to hassle migrants taking air outside the bar, activists with papers formed a human cordon, and the CRS went away empty-handed.
A great night, and everyone got home safely.
--------Wednesday 8th September:
- Africa House Raid
The day began like any other; with a big CRS raid, once again at Africa House. The police came from several sides as well as the roof. They arrested about 7 people without papers.
Activists were assaulted and when other activists attempted to intervene, the police became even more violent. All those with papers were arrested, including activists standing away from the scene. They were taken to Coquelles detention centre, interviewed, and held in several cells until the evening.
So for once they managed to outnumber migrants in the PAF (border police) cells in Coquelles!
- Another squat raided
At midday, activists held a meeting in another previously unoccupied building in Calais. The police Nationale and the CRS raided it at midday, breaking down the door and arresting six activists. Other activists showed some solidarity with a round of “A las barricadas“….
This had been a legal occupation – ie; people had been living there since Friday night (well over the 48 hours required by French law), and as such a warrant from court is needed to evict the property. The police had no such warrant.
All arrestees were released in the early evening — presumably to free the cells for the CRS’ evening roundup. Activists thanked the police for the chance for a good rest on a day of heavy rain in Calais, and with 17 of us inside Coquelles nick took on a festive atmosphere with singing, percussion jams, and exercise classes. Slogan of the day: “No Borders, No Nations, Party in the Police Station!”
- Autonomous food distro
That night, there was another peoples’ kitchen in the park. The CRS regularly patrolled the area in order to scare the migrants as they ate eating, two of whom were arrested. After the dinner, a film with Arabic subtitles was screened in the bar for anyone interested.
--------Thursday 9th September:
We continued our week of festivities in Calais with a great Eid party in Africa House on Thursday night, to which we accompanied migrants from all the jungles so as to reduce the chances of them being arrested. There was also a Food not Borders distribution in la Place d’Armes, and yesterday we held a food distro with the charity la Belle Etoile, with live music and a sound system, banners, and good food.
The immigration minister, Eric Besson, intends to visit Calais on 22nd September to mark the anniversary of the destruction of the Pashtun Jungle.