Two people facing charges of ‘degradation’ after squatting a kitchen in Calais previously used by Belle Etoile were acquitted this morning at the court of Boulogne-Sur-Mer
Belle Etoile, a local association serving lunch time meals for 10 years, decided to stop distributing food as of 28 Feb 2013 – refusing to continue to work as a prop for the authorities whilst conditions for people get worse.
So on March 1st, people occupied the empty building so that the space, as well as the remaining food, gas and equipment could be used by communities themselves autonomously.
But another local association Secours Catholic and the Bishop of Arras, who are responsible for the building, and filed a complaint against the occupants which resulted in a speedy and aggressive eviction on March 4th and arrest of everyone inside, including people with and without papers from Europe, Sudan and Afghanistan.
The complaint was supposedly against some damage of two screws in a door frame – however the result of the complaint involved cops smashing in the whole door. And the charge of ‘degradation’ then made against two of the occupants!
The prosecution near enough asked for the two to be acquitted, because of lack of evidence.
The complaint had been withdrawn before the trial, and Secours Catholic stood as witness conceding that the initial damage to the door was overestimated and the complaint had been made in haste with the feeling that it was manipulated by the police.
The complaint had also been against ‘illegal occupation’ – but the charge did not stick. Maybe at last the cops give up on the ‘illegal occupation’ charges, which *every time so far* people have won in the context of the brutal forced homeless of so many in Calais.
An Egyptian squat was evicted this morning and demolished instantly.
The squat has been home to about 30 people for the last 6 months+, with sometimes 50+ people living crammed together during the winter period.
This was the last remaining squat amongst a demolished street by old Africa House on rue Descartes. It is no longer just a matter of raids and evictions… now systematic demolitions are becoming the norm.
It seems these demolitions must be part of a wider centralised planning effort by the town hall, as a more systematic attack to eradicate people’s means of shelter.
On the surface evictions have a friendlier face, and are not as frequently aggressive as they were in the past because of the pressure that’s been mounting against policing in Calais [see this border kills-]… but whether by employing physical aggression or not, Calais’ gatekeepers are still hell bent on making life unlivable for ‘unwanted foreigners’ in the city, now it seems focused on totally obliterating living spaces, demolishing them altogether more frequently, leaving no chance for people to re-enter, making people constantly having to move and tiring people down.
But, of course, people will not give up easily. The journey this far into Europe is long, people have escaped the brutality of many regimes and will continue to resist this one. People did not get here by lying down. So no matter how hard they try to cleanse this city… their fences will be jumped, their controls will continue to be evaded and when they destroy one home… another will be occupied.
On Friday March 1st after Belle Etoile served their final meal the building which they had been using to prepare the food was occupied by No Borders and people from different communities. This was done in an effort to ensure that the cooking facilities that had been used for feeding Calais’ migrant population for many years would continue to be open and accessible to them in the future.
The intention was to open the space and allow the remaining food and gas inside to be distributed and used by the various communities to feed themselves rather than make this the responsibility of some charitable volunteers. The building would also serve as a social center, however, the Dioses of Arras and Secour Catholique were not as enthusiastic as others were with this idea and made a formal complaint to the police regarding the occupation, which resulted in a morning raid the following Monday that delegates of Secours Catholique were on hand to witness.
The CRS and PAF entered by force at 8:45 AM arresting the four occupants inside; taking two people (one Afghani and Sudanese) to Coquelle while taking the other two to the Hotel de Police. All four were released later that day with the two people taken to the polcie station being charged with ‘degradation’ and face court in May.
In the afternoon three vans of CRS Compagnie 53 were roaming the streets making many arrests in town. During an ID control of new arrivals from Northern Africa, including four women, CRS surrounded the group against a wall in the main street whilst making humiliating comments like ‘oh look they are cold’, also joking and laughing because they couldn’t understand French, before arresting them all.
Another new squat was closed last night.
… with a dozen bikes and a van full of sleeping bags, blankets and tents. All have been distributed already.
In the night the shelters by the lighthouse (or White House) was raided and many people arrested. The police are coming here regularly, often every hour throughout the night, flashing their headlights, harassing people and making jokes keeping people sleep deprived.
People are being ID controlled and arrested from the streets a lot.
In the early hours of this morning, about 6am, a Sudanese jungle was raided and destroyed. 19 people were arrested and held in the police station all day. Three people were put in the detention centre and face deportation to other European countries. The others were released in the night. No-one was allowed to take their sleeping bags or blankets and their tents and shelters were demolished. The camp had built up amongst a woodland out of town after the African squat by Auchan had been destroyed three weeks ago, and now this new camp has also been totally cleared, just piles of shattered wood remain…
Yesterday the squat by Palestine House was closed locking everyone’s belongings inside. Police threatened people with imprisonment if they return.
Another new squat in town was also closed.
At the moment many new squats are opening all the time – but are being closed again rapidly. People are constantly having to move, losing all their belongings and many people are spending nights on the street or amongst bushes, down alleyways or under bridges etc.
The Pashtu jungle has grown to 50 people.
It is raining a lot and getting colder.
Tents, sleeping bags, blankets and tarps still very much needed.
This morning the police visited the squat of the Eritreans. There are 16 people living there. They told them to take their bags and stuff and leave and that the house would be closed soon. It is not evicted yet but we expect it will be tomorrow.
All the houses squatted the night before last were closed yesterday by the police but have been re-opened, but will again be closed soon as police are sitting in cars outside of them.
Any people who tried to enter the place of food distribution last night were pounced upon by police who waited in the car park opposite all night. Many people were unable to sleep last night and walked all night in the rain looking for somewhere they could stay.. We distributed all our tents yesterday – also Medicin du Monde gave everyone plastic and Salam distributed blankets again.
There are many people in detention in Coquelles, including one minor who the police refuse to believe is under 18. Yesterday 16 minors were arrested in the raid on the Afghans. There are four children under ten here at the moment.
The people detained have the usual complaints about Coquelles – poor conditions, bad food, racist and humiliating behaviour from the police – for example, the officers have been holding their noses when people walk past in the hallways, implying that people smell. Many people inside have no idea of their legal rights, although France Terre d’Asile work inside Coquelles many people we have been visiting and speaking with have never heard of them. The police are deliberately trying to stop communication between the different sections of the prison – people are rushed to the hall for eating and moved out again very quickly so as they do not talk to each other. The rooms are full – up to five people in each.
Many people inside were people arrested in the big raid on the place of food distribution – the police took their bags and are refusing to give them back to people now in detention – always saying “tomorrow, tomorrow..”
People are unable to change their clothes. One man doesn’t even have any shoes as he was refused by the police, when they arrested him, to retrieve them from his bag – so he was walked barefoot to the arrest van and into the police station..
With the constant heavy rain and crazy numbers of police on the street people don’t know what to do with themselves. Nowhere is safe, nowhere is dry and people are so tired.