On Wednesday morning banners were dropped from a disused building belonging to the State on Rue de Quatre Coins reading ‘A Roof is a Right’ and ‘This is a legal squat’. The building had been occupied for many days beforehand, although clandestinely, and being safely past the 48 hour point, after which the police cannot enter or evict without a court order by French law, the occupants decided to make their occupation public. Police Nationale arrived shortly after but then left again to return with more police, but did not try to enter seemingly understanding their legal position and respecting the rights of those inside. A representative from the town hall also showed up, as well as a police forensics technician, who both took pictures of the door (and the legal notice that had been taped to it) but did not find anything to have been damaged and left again.
However, the next day at 7:30 AM around thirty PAF arrived and forced entry into the building by breaking the front door and climbing in an upper story window. Three people who were inside were arrested and taken to Coquelle, where they were held without food for ten hours, but then released without any charge or summons despite refusing to cooperate with police or identify themselves.
Police apparently also returned on Friday morning and went inside again as a banner reading ‘Ceci Reste un Squat Legal’ had been hung during the night.
*The door after police had broken it in with the legal notice still there; an indication of how much the PAF respect the law.
This occupation was intended to secure the building and force a legal procedure, so that it could later be opened up as a secure social center and sleeping place for people free from police raids and ID controls.
This occupation came just days after the Mayor of Calais was received by the French Minister of the Interior to explain the situation with migrants in the city and to plead with him for more police in Calais and to designate the city a ‘zones de sécurité prioritaire’. In their meeting she directly discussed the case of Rue Caillette and lamented her inability to get her papers in order before going to court, resulting in the court being unable to receive the complaint. But rather than understand that it is the city’s own incompetency which was responsible for this outcome, she blamed the law which is protecting the inhabitants of the squats that she considers a blight on the city’s image. She then cynically referred to the terrible living conditions inside the squats as further reason to evict them immediately, but without mentioning the complete lack of support or accommodation that the city provides which may allow people to live in more dignified conditions.
In any case, what is apparent after this eviction is that the city does not want any more legal squats, and is happier to continue breaking the law and keeping people on the street than see them exist in self-organized and autonomous spaces. For too long now though squats in Calais have been raided and evicted with impunity. This eviction presents a good opportunity to make a formal complaint and take the police and city to court for the actions.