After Natasha Bouchart, Senator-Mayor of Calais, presented her new anti-squatting law in the senate last week, the illegal evictions continue in Calais.
A new house was opened in Calais on the weekend of May 31st to 1st June. After a week of going unnoticed (to avoid possible eviction without a trial in the first 48 hour), the occupation was made public on Sunday, June 8 (despite some confusing information announcing it as “the next opening” published on the website of La Voix du Nord on Saturday, June 7th ), and the first contact was made with passersby, neighbors and the bar newsagent opposite. Some of them considered the occupation of this house, which has been empty for three years, totally legitimate. Another house on the street about fifty yards away is already squatted.
That same day, at 11am, the police came by for the first time accompanied by a someone from the Calais OPH (Office of Public Housing), who tried to open the door. After a lot of reflection and many key turns in vain, they concluded that this house did not belong to them. The police then refused to take the evidence of the occupation that was presented to them (Attestation of Justice testimonies, photos, screen shots) kept together in a closed letter officially stamped the 2nd June and also a second copy of the same evidence provided separately. A journalist present at the time later interviewed the Mayor, who said she would file a complaint and send a safety inspection team there next Tuesday to see if the building might be suitable for public use.
On Monday 9th June, chairs, mattresses and other furniture were brought to 86 rue Massena to make the space more comfortable. But at 18:00, half a company of CRS police turned up with the owner. Using a battering ram, the CRS destroyed the door (on which the police had not found any traces of a break-in). The four people in the house were arrested, handcuffed and then taken away. The cops justified this operation with the testimony of a neighbor (a”friend of the owner,” in his own words) who stated that the building was empty Sunday 8th at 5 am. The inhabitants were asleep in the house at this time.
What is the point of certificates of justice and witness statements by other neighbors if the word of the owner’s friend alone is enough to say that a building is empty? … A perfect pretext for an eviction.
Thirty minutes after the evacuation, city services were already there to “secure” the house. The police said that people would be able to get their belongings back from inside, but were later prevented from doing so. The municipal services of Calais locked everything inside. In Calais, they throw you onto the street without so much as a blanket.
The occupants were only informed of the fact that they had been arrested after being locked up. One person was deprived of water and a blanket throughout their detention (20 hours) and another, who is asthmatic, had to wait several hours to retrieve their inhaler.
For anyone who needs a roof, Calais remains a lawless zone, or rather a zone where the law is manipulated and stretched according to the will of its political representatives. Besides, if this legal system was ever respected for the sake of justice (a blinding illusion), how can it be that the offense of property damage in a group, which is often used to justify the arrests, then disappears and leaves, after release, only prosecutions for the refusal to submit DNA samples and fingerprints . Maybe we can see here a fertile ground for defense lawyers who’ve been broken down by the shitty politico-police maneuvers and whose actions in the past have brought their fruit in terms of dismissals and other abandoned cases.
This is hardly the worst abuse in Calais, but still it seems important to make this story known. As in other cases, we shouldn’t let ourselves get used to the bitter taste of an ever more impossible to swallow, failed democracy which has nothing more to offer than batons, arrogance and still other, less and less sustainable “legal frameworks”: there is still time to vomit.
All four of the arrestees, two under their own names, will appear on 22nd July at TGI Boulogne-sur-mer for refusal to provide DNA and fingerprints. The two others, registered as only as X, face the same charges.
Housing for all!