Challenging the blockade of the hangar

On Friday morning, we met as had been planned outside the hangar with the Police to demand to know why we were not being allowed access to our place that we have legally rented and paid for . The « arret municpal » notice served on the hangar is of course being used as a cheap and in fact illegal justification for the hangar’s closure . It points out various work that needs to be done in order to satisfy the building authorities of the buildings safety and to give public access. This is in spite of the fact it was reopened as a private space.

We went to the Police to demand that he contact the subprefect to give us an explanation. The subprefect spoke with M Nettier of SOS soutiens sans papiers. Without any explanation he said that we would be barred access to the hangar. In the afternoon we gathered in front of the sub prefecture with banners denouncing the fact that the French state is ‘blowing its nose’ on basic human rights, another demanding the end to European security politics , as well as freedom of movement and equal migration rights for all, as well as a lobotomy for Eric Besson, the minister of immigration and natioanl identity.

We demanded to speak with the Prefect to obtain some kind of explanation as to why French property laws suddenly no longer apply and how it will be possible for us to carry out the necessary building work when we are being barred access to the building. The Police captain at first refused to relay the message to the Prefect. When pressed he then spoke to his superior, the answer was again no and with no reason given .We phoned to ask for an appointment with him and were then told that we had to send a letter asking to see him. Having demonstrated for about an hour, we got bored and decided to go and occupy the Town hall since it was the Mayor Bouchart who had asked the prefect to close the space and as now we also need somewhere to stay and it seems like a nice space. We stayed for about twenty minutes before the Police arrived. They removed us by force and so we continued. On the steps ouside, six of us were arrested, but were released about an hour later.

So as far as the hangar is concerned we are in our rights to try to get it back, the chances of doing that are however very slim given a 24 hour police presence outside. A legal case is being made which we will know the result of over the next few days. It seems like the authorities are trying to keep a lid on this by just giving us a wall of silence. We think the ‘arret municipal’ will be lifted but that this will be temporary. So how we will proceed from here is quite difficult to decide for the moment. We have decided to keep up the pressure demanding to be allowed in to do the work required to address the problems they list on the arret municipal.

When we went on Saturday to try we were told that to do this work we require permission from the Mayor (who is in charge of the admin of public buildings). We are waiting for the legal wheels to turn and its frustrating. We will know soon whether the slowness is deliberate or not, for now it’s hard to determine. So we in effect are still locked out of our hangar, we are finding ‘solutions’ but they are very likely to be temporary, we need help to keep doing this, the team who are here now are doing a brilliant job but they will leave soon.

Apart from that it’s really good to be with the migrants. Just talking, exchanging and joking and playing helps to take everyone’s minds off things. I think it lifts their spririts to have us around and it’s nice to be able fetch wood and get the fire going again for those left outside the BCMO (temporary cold weather shelter, opened when the temperature goes below -5C), and to be there to help stop the Police intimidation and reduce arrests. Some braver of us have been sleeping out with them but are not always so well equipped to do so, so if you do come and want to sleep out bring really as much warm waterproof clothing as possible. Stuff to share would be good too. We are also continually asked for English sim cards .