Africa House update

Yesterday evening there was a meeting between CMS activists and migrants living at Africa House to discuss our tactics for the prevention of arrests and violence.

The meeting was lively and well attended, and the residents were very appreciative not just of our work on the ground but of our commitment to keeping them involved with our planning. However, we learned that during the raid earlier in the day the CRS had kicked, scuffed and walked on the prayer space on one side of the warehouse. This space is a large square of floor covered with mats and surrounded by a low makeshift barrier made out of small pieces of wood. It is considered a sacred space by the Muslims in Africa House, and by kicking at it the police showed contempt and intolerance for their religion. One Sudanese guy who was arrested yesterday despite the fact that he has French papers also reported that the CRS made monkey noises at the Africans after the raid was over, which only betrays the racism of this almost exclusively white French police force.

We also learned that a 16 year old Sudanese guy was beaten up quite badly by the CRS yesterday. He reappeared in the evening with a nasty limp and bandaged legs and hands. This is the smallest guy in Africa House, and a minor. Who could do such a thing, and why?

Last night No Borders activists intervened in another raid at Africa House, but only made their presence known after the police had entered the compound. As they left the shadows of one of the buildings and walked towards a group of CRS standing over some arrested migrants, they noticed that one of the cops had his leg raised and had been just about to kick one of the arrestees in the face. The activists were searched and all their possessions (including toothbrushes) were thrown down onto the filthy courtyard floor. The cops asked the activists what they were doing in the squat, and refused to believe that they could be friends with the sans-papiers. “It’s impossible,” apparently. They then continued their search of Africa House, finding a total of 9 people, two of whom were not arrested. Meanwhile, activists argued with one of the cops in French, denouncing the violence and racism of the CRS in Calais. The cop argued that the CRS were never violent, and that racism did not exist in France. When the activists pointed to officers pepperspraying inside one of the migrants’ tents he first denied that his unit (Compagnie 5) uses pepperspray, and then tried to tell us that pepperspray doesn’t hurt and isn’t violent.

7 arrests were made.