One person’s account of their thwarted attempt to reach Calais from Paris to join Saturday’s demo against the border and the impending total destruction of the ‘Jungle’. Four coaches were blocked en-route, while the demo itself was banned by the Calais prefect and repressed by vast quantities of tear gas, a water cannon, and hundreds of riot cops. People fought back with stones. One comrade was arrested and charged with trying to conceal his identity and participating in an unlawful protest; his trial will be on 7th November.
“The road from Paris to Calais, an absurd odyssey”
Saturday the 1st October, a convoy of 4 coaches left Paris, Porte de la Chapelle, to participate in the banned protest at Calais.
The abuses of power by French police and their cronies since the declaration of the state of emergency have become increasingly farcical as they become increasingly oppressive. Before even departing, the Prefecture of Police called the coach company the evening before and threatened them with legal action should they uphold the booking for the migrants and activists. The official line told to the police by those traveling was that we were instead traveling to the Jungle in order to meet the migrants and express solidarity, and to demand the Liberty of Circulation for all.
As we mounted onto the tollroad we were immediately pulled over by local Gendarmes who had been nominated to block our travel to Calais. State goons told us that the protest was banned and should the journey continue we could expect legal action. Of course we carried on our way. Not for long though as when we pulled over at a service station for a break, we were again greeted by ten Gendarmes. This time they stopped us leaving by carrying out a control (ID check) on the papers of our drivers. It was clear that their objective was simply to slow us down as much as possible and stop us from traveling, which considering that it is not (yet) a crime to take a coach, shows how desperate the French authorities are to make all solidarity with migrants impossible, whilst at the same time paying lip-service to the problem with the token gestures of building new welcome centres using prefabricated parts in abandoned industrial areas in the Paris suburbs (a nice way of getting the State to pay for local urban renovation?).
The Gendarmes continued to escort us up the tollroad, obviously put out by our determination they pulled us over a third time at the A26 autoroute, just outside Saint-Omer. There we were greeted by no less than 15 cars from the Gendarmes, as well as representatives from the Police Nationale. This time they decided to carry out an identity control on all 176 travelers, obviously trying to isolate and threaten those who do not have papers; luckily, everybody on the bus refused to give their identity cards.
The next tactic of the Gendarmes was to tell the drivers and coach company that they could face legal action such as fines and loss of license for…..“The Illegal Transport of Migrants”, a disgusting but unsurprising piece of legislation brought in be the vacuous hypocritical bastards who dictate what happens within the eepublican fiefdom. Whilst essentially kettled in a motorway lay-by, the Gendarmes told us we had 2 options:
1. Accept an identity check, then turn back to Paris with an escort.
2. If you want to continue to Calais we will do everything within our power to make sure you don’t arrive. Including arresting your drivers. They also threatened within this option to continue with a more rigorous identity check and only allow those with papers to continue on the road, those who did not would be retained.
Despite this, spirits remained high. Music was set up and a banner quickly created with the slogans
“Paris to Calais, Solidarity!” and “Freedom of Movement and Installation for everyone!” in several languages, which was followed by a demo around the car park. In the face of police ultimatums and the threat of detention for some of us, an assembly was held in which the decision was taken to return to Paris.
And the Gendarmes followed us almost all the way home, even trying to stop us when we pulled over at a motorway service station again. And essentially trying to guard us while we went to the toilet and had coffee.
The tactics used by the state, including manipulation of legal codes designed to isolate and further marginalise the oppressed, whilst reinforcing their own mainstream rhetoric which serves to portray migrants as parasitic predators are as deplorable as they are expected. At moments like these we must remember how borders exist to dehumanise us and break class solidarity, and that the state is but a tool for the powerful.
In the face of everyday repression we must remember;
NO ONE IS ILLEGAL! BORDERS ARE PRISONS!