For the past two weeks, the French state has slowly but surely been evicting, clearing and levelling a large swathe of the Jungle camp, in turn creating a stretch of “no man’s land” between the highway to the port and the residents of the Jungle. Adding to the already bleak, militaristic landscape of razor wired fences, the permanent prescence of police and smog billowing from the surrounding factories; jungle residents now find themselves behind 10ft embankments of sand and rubble, reminiscent of World War I trench warfare.
Yesterday, at approximately 13:00 there was an attempt at a “dougar”, or traffic jam at a number of points along the port bypass. A small number of trucks were stopped, but those involved were quickly dispersed with stun grenades, pepper spray and baton blows. Having restored traffic circulation, the police decided to exact its revenge on the general population of the camp – targeting a number of volunteer vans distributing clothes to a large group queuing up just beyond the bridge entrance. Huge amounts of tear gas was fired directly at this congregation of people creating mass panic and anger.
What followed was a two hour barage of both CS and CR gas, as well as the use of rubber bullets and concussion grenades to clear the large groups of people that had gathered and were attempting (in some cases successfully) to cut through the fence.
People fought back, and at one point a hail of stones rained down on a CRS van resulting in one policeman getting injured. Eventually, people were forced to retreat back across “no man’s land” and into the jungle due to the shear amount of gas and rubber bullets fired. With people clearly retreating, the police entered and pressed forward across “no man’s land” and onto the new embankment meters from La Vie Active’s replacement camp.
From this new vantage point the police indiscriminantely continued to fire into the camp. This position also enabled the police to fire tear gas deeper than previously possible into the jungle. This left very few places free of noxious gas – some people reported feeling the effects of the gas attack from as far as the Theatre Dome/family area (approximatley 200-300 meters away from the police’s main focus) and also on Chemin de Dunes. Also of note is the fact that the police adhered to their usual strategy of firing both rubber bullets and tear gas directly at people and from a very close proximity. Today, this resulted in one person’s hand being broken by a rubber bullet.
Fundamentally, the state hopes that the creation of this “no man’s land” will enable the police to better monitor those in the camp and reduce incursions onto the port bypass highway. This new space makes the people of the Calais Jungle yet more vulnerable, exposed and liable to be attacked indiscriminately by the police in acts of collective punishment via mass chemical weapons attacks. However, yesterdays events show that this has not dampened people’s spirits and many are still determined to fight and further undermine the French State’s repressive border regime. The British and French governments have already invested millions in sophisticated and barbaric technologies of control. Yet the people still try and the people still cross. These strategies of deterrent have never stopped people before and they will not now. They only cause meaningless suffering, waste, death and fat profits for security corporations.