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…