Gathering 1st March 2014, Place d’Armes, Calais.
A call out was made for people to show their solidarity with the refugees and exiles in Calais who continue to be harassed and dehumanised by the fascist, racist cabal that run the municipality here, led by Natasha Bouchard.
At once the call out was taken up by other groups and friends who extended their own invitations. On the day a samba band of around thirty to forty people dressed in pink and silver turned the gathering into a festive and carnivalesque event with a mixture of locals, migrants, activists, representatives of other organisations like the CNT, DAL and some political parties. With the fascist attacks on the squatted farmhouse in Coulogne the weeks before, a strong presence of antifa was inevitable and had been call for. There was no way we were going to let the local fascists, police or others ruin this day.
A friendly baker set up a crepe stand making crepes for a donation or for free depending on what you could afford, tea and coffee too was on offer and SUD Territoriaux a trade union who often mobilise for the cause of the migrants, provided the sound system.
Several people took up the microphone to make speeches and read poems too. Afterwards there was music and dancing and merry making. At one point the samba band led a cortege of people on a walkabout through the town and past the town hall, the refugee camp at Pont Mollien, the hotel de police and return to Place d’Armes to continue the party in solidarity.
The gathering in all was a great success, with up to 300 people who came to make it what it was, many who felt that it should happen more often. Calais is changing, and it is not political parties and their hierarchical structures that are making the change, rather it is the people who live in this town and who love it that are making it change. People who are organising together in solidarity, not just for migrants but for themselves too, breaking down the barriers and borders and empowering themselves.
Lets hope that we don’t have to wait too long for other initiatives like this to take place here in Calais, there is a movement on the go here and it needs to grow…
“Hello neighbours, hello whoever concerned,
We are the people who squatted the house on 3 impasse Leclercq, Calais. On Friday February 28th, the police arrived at the house and smashed the door to get inside to the house. They use violence to get in and took all of us to the police station. Four hours later, we were all out without charges. Living in a house has nothing illegal. The police is well aware of that but they don’t respect the law in Calais. Justice has to decide if we have to go, not the police.
Today, we are back for several reasons. First, because we are still legally allowed to live in this house. But the motivations that push us to come back today are not only based on law articles.
We don’t understand why a house that could shelter people in need, should become a ghost house. We don’t understand why it should be crime to live, eat, sleep and laugh in a house that is soon promised to demolition. We don’t understand why people get angry from what we’re doing.
We are back in order to find out the answers to these questions. We would like to start discussing with you. We are human-beings like you and you can talk to us. We encourage you to come and ask us questions.
We hope that we’ll manage to be your neighbours for some time. And we’d like to know you.”
The mayor of Calais ranks amongst the most extreme Right in France!
Today (28/02), an occupied house belonging to the Municipality, located at 3 Impasse Leclercq, was illegally evicted in the early afternoon despite conclusive and legally sound evidence of it having been occupied for at least three days (meaning it should be entitled to a court case and notice under french law)! The media had been informed several hours before the eviction and two leading newspapers in the area had published proof of occupation. “La Voix de Nord” published an article showing a picture of this proof, sealed registered letters with the sent date, Wednesday, February 26, 2014 in which there were testimonies and timestamped photos showing that the occupation of the building had been for longer than 48 hours.
The Municipality chose to deliberately ignore this evidence and demand the expulsion of the house. What reasons do they have to publicly flout the law for the umteenth time? Under the name of “municipal government” they behave like a cowboy gang, treating the law as their play thing; only respecting it when it suits their purposes, and not afraid to break it when it does not.
This morning an official from the Municipality accompanied by an officer from the municipal police and the Police Nationale visited the residence. They received the evidence of the occupation that the inhabitants provided. However, in the early afternoon seven vans of CRS accompanied by many other police cars, marked and unmarked,came to evict!
People tried to talk to the police reminding them of the illegality of theirs actions, and that a decision of the district court was necessary before an expulsion. However, the police ignored this and directly broke down the door without offering the occupants a way out. Residents and inhabitants tried to capture the actions of the police, but they grabbed the camera and threw them against the wall.
The occupants inside the building were also treated brutally, testimonies of which are being taken to make complaints against the police. Those inside were arrested, but released a few hours later without charge or even being interviewed, demonstrating once again that these expulsions are legally baseless! They seem to only have one goal: to empty the house of its inhabitants at all costs, regardless of the legality of their actions or the physical and psychological damage that this causes.
Three other occupied houses were also discovered by police during the day. Residents of these three places also provided evidence of their occupation for more than 48 hours to the media and the police. These homes do not belong to the city, but to other public institution who, for the moment, do not show the eagerness that Calais Ville does to illegally evict the inhabitants.
The complaint for illegal eviction from the house of 3 impasse Leclercq is under way, and all the original evidence was received by our lawyer and will be presented in court. We are ready to repeat this complaint for the other three places that have been opened, as long as our right to housing is not respected.
We are a group of people from different countries and different political backgrounds who are fighting for the right to housing for everyone, whatever their origin. We announce that we have been occupying (now for more than 48 hours), empty and abandoned public buildings in different parts of the town of Calais, and intend to continue these occupations and maintain them as “legal squats” for as long as possible:
Why here and why now?
There are more than 4,000 buildings empty in Calais, which represents 9 % of homes (500 of these are the property of a single, large, housing association- the major ‘social’ landlord in the city), and yet against this backdrop more than 500 people are on the streets, out of sight of any dignified solution and used only as sound bites by politicians who purport to offer assistance and in reality offering nothing. To address this situation they (the town hall/authorities) have turned Calais into a ghost town .
Who can claim to have walked in the streets of this city and not passed at least one house with bricked up windows, doors barricaded, the cellar sealed? Why leave places empty and people outside in the cold? Why spend money to condemn access to buildings rather than using them to help a precarious population?
To answer these questions that the public authorities have chosen to avoid, (for several years now) a group of individuals have set out to find collective solutions by giving life to abandoned buildings and the homeless a roof over their heads. Until now, the authorities have responded with repressive tactics that have resulted in multiple illegal evictions based on the perversion of legal procedures, manipulation of witnesses during neighbourhood investigations, and the alteration of evidence.
In Calais, the discourse on the right to housing is taken hostage by the various levels of power that have continued to use the migration situation to stir up fears and fantasies about the issue of squats. In recent months this political manipulations has been incarnated in the call for the denunciation and exposure of squats; spearheaded by UMP mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart (who in reality has no real political prospects for this city) an attitude has bee established that suggests that squats and their alleged inhabitants are the origin of all the ills of the city. This poisonous atmosphere has allowed the racist/xenophobic collective “Save Calais” (whose founder is a neo-Nazi with a swastika tattoo) to germinate; their establishment occurring some what coincidentally just two days after Boucharts call for action on “the problem of migrant squats”.
Remember further that two of the town halls main representatives , Philippe Mignonnet and Emmanuel Agius (who both work under Bouchart) came out to welcome ‘save calais’ to the city and to support the groups “sit-in”on Thursday, Nov. 7 outside the town hall despite the fact that organizers and participants did not hide their racism (including for example some discriminatory remarks that migrants “are harmful, three quarters of them are potential aggressors) and displayed clear affiliation with the Front National.
“Save Calais” has since extended their ‘stigmatization of squats campaign’ with a sickening xenophobic discourse, and hardline violence against people trying to find shelter. This group has become the operational arm of the mayors call to denounce squats in Calais, and has set up a system for tracking migrants and others living in squats, to identify buildings being used for shelter, and to organize actions against these people and their homes. Where it was almost impossible before to stay in Calais when you were homeless (particularly homeless and undocumented) without becoming a victim of abuses by the authorities, it is now also a struggle to avoid being the victim of nazi attacks.
Fascist Extremists, members of “Save Calais”, and manipulated residents have effectively been besieging a small farmhouse on the outskirts of Calais ( which was squatted by a couple of people in need of a home) issuing death threats, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, following and attempting to violently attack individuals going about their daily business, and consistently attempting to burn the house down- making life impossible for residence of the house attempting to carve out a semblance of a normal life. Today in Calais (and the surrounding area) being a squatter is taking the risk of being lynched , under the impassive eyes of police inaction and the defiant ignorance of the sub-prefect and prefect .
We can not let the arbitrary violence of a minority, hitherto unpunished, prevent us from having access to shelter and defending the need of decent housing for everyone regardless of their origins. We refuse the trivialization of these methods and the inaction of state officials, we will not sit back and do nothing, or see these events become an entrenched norm.
It would be great to have more people coming to Calais to help support and sustain our occupations, especially since we think the police are likely to try and ignore our strong evidence of legal rights as they have consistently done in the past.
Stop the rot, Squat the Lot.
 The roles of prefect and sub prefect are something similar to district judge, combined with the powers of a council official and the CPS (crown prosecution service) in that they can take decisions on police action; whether to intervene in certain political matters etc.
ASSEMBLY AGAINST FASCISM AND FOR TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY
Call-out from anti-racist residents of Calais, called for by a broad coalition of groups including the facebook group “Save Calais from the Small Spirits” (an anti-racist group set up to counter “Sauvon Calais”), some of the associations as well as people connected to Calais Migrant Solidarity, CNT and Action Antifasciste NP2C.
Saturday 1st March 2014
Place d’Armes, Calais.
Also see call outs from CNT & Action Antifasciste NP2C :
A small victory in the fight against fascists in Calais. The neo-nazi group “Sauvons Calais” (“Save Calais”) has announced that it is disbanding after the leaders have been exposed and “put in danger”.
Thursday 27 February. After a massive response from Calais residents and supporters further afield to the attacks they led on the farmhouse at Coulogne, and the outing of leader Kevin Reche as a swastika-tattooed neonazi, the “Sauvons Calais” gang have announced on their facebook page that they are disbanding. The facebook page has now been taken down. Here is a translation of their final statement:
“After numerous votes, Sauvons Calais is closing its doors. It is clear that the local newspaper Nord Littoral did its work well in placing in danger various admins of the collective, and most notably Kevin Reche. When we say ‘place in danger’ we don’t speak of aggression, but much worse. It is for that reason that we decided to close the collective, as we are alone against everyone. Too many of our contact details are circulating on the internet (phone numbers, addresses etc.) Another group in a similar vein will soon open its doors. It will be stronger than ours, with lawyers and members in ‘high places’. It will therefore be untouchable. We thank you again for having supported and encouraged us and for following us in our various actions. The page will close at midnight. The team at Sauvons Calais.”
And thank you everyone for supporting the effort to expose and shut down these fascists! A mixture of tactics including research and exposure, web-based activity, local mobilisation and publicity, and bringing together diverse antifascists in solidarity on the ground, has proved a success. This past week, after a very difficult time in Calais, has seen a massive movement of indignation and solidarity against the neonazis and in support of migrants and the No Borders struggle in Calais.
Of course the struggle is far from over. Of course we don’t forget that last saturday saw as many as 80 fascists attacking our friends with intent to kill, supported in their actions by complicity of the police and state authorities. They are now on the back foot and deprived of important organising tools. But we need to be more vigilant than ever and keep on working to build a solid fighting network. Looking forward to Saturday’s demonstration.
Online with pics here: https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2014/02/515610.html
CALAIS: CALLOUT TO HACKTIVISTS AND EVERYONE FOR ANTIFASCIST SOLIDARITY.
Calais, North of France, 25/2/2014. Addressing antifascists, hacktivists, and all concerned people. After the arson by fascists of the occupied farmhouse in Coulogne, we urgently need your support to see off a surge in neo-nazi violence.
For years the situation for migrants in the French port town of Calais has been extremely harsh. They face constant police repression and harassment, and increasingly now also attacks from non-state fascist groups, particularly the neo-nazi gang “Sauvons Calais” (Save Calais).
Calais is the main French port for crossing the English channel to the UK. Several hundred refugees and undocumented migrants (mainly from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, East Africa and other war zones) are stuck there at any moment, trying to cross by any means such as hiding in goods trucks or under trains. Deaths are frequent: four people have been killed so far just this winter. Fatal accidents trying to cross are compounded by police attacks including beatings, repeated arrests, theft and destruction of tents, sleeping bags, food and belongings, etc.
Recently the level of violence against migrants, and also towards people of the ‘No Borders’ movement who offer solidarity, has been mounting. The escalation began last October when the right-wing Mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, called for residents of Calais to report migrants occupying abandoned buildings in the town. The mayor’s call was taken up by a new anti-migrant group called “Sauvons Calais”. Representing themselves as concerned citizens without political affiliation, the group is in fact closely linked to neo-nazi and far-right movements including Front National and Generation Identitaire. Its spokesperson Kevin Rêche is a neo-nazi with a swastika tattooed on his chest.
In recent days Sauvons Calais led an attack on a farmhouse in Coulogne, a suburb of Calais, squatted by homeless people (in fact, in this case, not ‘migrants’ but mostly European persons including “French nationals”). On Saturday 22 February they gathered more than 80 supporters outside the house. From the afternoon until 1am the mob attacked the house with stones and later with molotov cocktails, destroying the windows and roof and eventually burning down one of the out-buildings. During the most violent period Sauvons Calais held a ‘buffet’ outside the house offering food and coffee.
French police were present throughout the assault. The inhabitants of the house wrote in a statement:
“The police were notable in their passivity, only intervening on two occasions. The first time, while a friend was hit by a rock to the neck in front of their eyes, they took him into their police car for less than a minute, then let him go. Another striking event was when a drunk man arrived with a packet of fireworks, the police confiscated a few of them and then let him approach the house with the rest. Indeed they went so far as to hang the protesters’ banner on the fence, and some of them were laughing as our attackers showed their joy when the stones hit their target.”
In short, we are seeing a situation that is all too familiar for anyone who has studied history or been following recent events in Greece and across Europe. State authorities (politicians and police) are working hand in glove with extra-legal fascist gangs attacking and intimidating “foreigners”, homeless peopled other outsiders, and their supporters. Are we going to let this become an everyday reality in Calais?
The attacks eventually led to a fire which burnt down one of the farm buildings. Fortunately, no one was killed or hurt. Burnt out, the inhabitants of the farmhouse have now been forced to leave. But with several hundred migrants and other homeless people sleeping rough and in deserted buildings in Calais, this story is certainly not over. Next time the consequences could be far more serious.
The demonstrations against the house were coordinated via two web pages, administered by active members of the group “Sauvons Calais”. These pages are also a window on their ideology, showing links with active and well-known fascist and neo-nazi movements across France.
One of these sites is a Facebook page:
This was used to organise the demonstrations at the farmhouse. It is also full of fascist individuals posting death-threats and appeals to violent action against migrants and “No Borders”.
The other is a blog administered by the same gang: https://sauvonscalais.wix.com/sauvons-calais
We invite all individuals and groups in solidarity to contribute to the struggle against these fascists and racists. Come and join “No Borders” in Calais, or get in touch to help strengthen the network against fascism in France and beyond. Or take action in your own ways, following your own ideas and talents.
Here are just a few ideas that have been suggested, but please come up with your own ideas too:
** Come to Calais to join the struggle on the ground. To get in touch with No Borders call 06 45 46 59 86 (from France) or 00 33 6 45 46 59 86 (outside France). Or email email@example.com.
** A demonstration “for tolerance and solidarity” will be held in Calais on Saturday 1st March, 2.30PM in the main square Place d’Armes. Please come along, or help spread the word. Further information here: http://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/solidarity-demo-rally-for-tolerance-1st-march-1430/
** The facebook and blog of Sauvons Calais should be taken out of action along with other sites of their Nazi friends. Numerous people have reported the Sauvons Calais page to facebook for harassment and threats (to do this, click on the flower next to the ‘message’ icon). Facebook have refused to take the page down. If you know other ways to help, please do.
** These fascist sites are also potentially full of information about the attackers, for example names, telephone numbers, addresses, email addresses, contacts, etc.
** Finally, we remember that the struggle against borders, and against a world of controls, surveillance and oppression, does not stop with particular fascist gangs. We equally invite you to take action wherever you are against all those who are part of the construction of this totalitarian world, including the French and other governments, the European border police force Frontex, mercenary corporations such as G4S, Serco, Mitie and others who run migration prisons and border controls, and all those individuals and companies who profit from their actions.
For further information see:
calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/ (English and French)
http://luttennord.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/sauvons-calais-les-miliciens-sont-dans-la-rue/ (detailed expose of the fascists in Sauvons Calais, in French)
Quelques personnes solidaires et révoltées !!
With the fascist attacks continuing to escalate (see here for details: https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2014/02/515552.html), anti-racist residents of Calais have called for a public show of support, meeting in Calais town centre on Saturday 1st March. (Though if you can come to Calais before this please do!)
ASSEMBLY AGAINST FASCISM AND FOR TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY
Call-out from anti-racist residents of Calais.
Gathering with music and dance, words and food.
Saturday 1 March 2.30 PM. Place d’Armes, Calais.
We are indignant to see that hundreds of people are living in the street whilst houses are empty and abandoned. Indignant about the passivity or hostility of the authorities and for the demonstrations of fascist hatred in these last days.
These fascists do not represent Calais. There are also many more people who have been engaged for years, as individuals or with groups, in hospitality and openness.
Whether we are long term residents of Calais or passing through, we will come together to share a moment of tolerance and solidarity.
RASSEMBLEMENT POUR LA TOLÉRANCE
Prises de parole, musique et danse, goûter solidaire.
Samedi 1er mars à partir de 14h30 place d’Armes à Calais.
Nous sommes indignés de voir des centaines de personnes à la rue quand des maisons sont vides et abandonnées. Indignés par la passivité ou l’hostilité des autorités, et par les manifestations de haine de ces derniers jours.
Mais ce n’est pas tout Calais. Il y a aussi toutes ces personnes qui s’engagent depuis des années à titre personnel et dans les associations, toute une hospitalité invisible, tout un désir d’ouverture.
Que nous soyons d’ici ou de passage, venons partager un moment pour la tolérance et la solidarité.”