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(en) France, Grenoble, [Pga_europe_resistance] Translated: call to action about the Mistral Park Tree-Sit

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 31 Jan 2004 11:21:05 +0100 (CET)

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Urgent call to support the resistance camp and tree-sit
against the destruction of the Paul Mistral Park in Grenoble, France
(Grenoble is a city in the east of France, near Lyon, in a river basin at
the base of the Alps, which already has a big problem with pollution.)


Since November 3 2003, activists have been occupying the trees in
Grenoble's Paul Mistral Park, to prevent the destruction of part of the
Park. More than 300 trees of Grenoble’s "planetary lungs", including and
old, 200-year-old elm tree are slated to disappear, to make room for a
giant football stadium. This elitist sports field and walking field
represents one public space being privatized...

A protest campaign was launched by the “SOS Paul Mistral Park”
association, using lobbying and other traditional political procedures;
this campaign was unable to prevent the project. Since it looked like
work on the construction project was about to begin, three initial
activists were quickly joined by more than twenty others in deciding to
turn to direct action and to permanently occupy the terrain to stop the
logging machines and bulldozers from coming in. About ten tree-houses,
with mattresses and hammocks, living rooms and cooking spaces, linked by
hanging bridges to a 20-foot-high platform, now make up a
perpetually-evolving village above the ground.

Much of the population of Grenoble immediately showed their support for
the hanging village, and the Paul Mistral Park rebels, fortified with a
large stock of supplies and smiles, stayed up despite the cold. No matter
what the cost, they are committed to resist eviction and to prevent the
“authorities” from coming to dislodge them from their trees. Thanks to
the support of the people on the ground, attempts to erect metal barriers
around the Park were foiled for several days in a row, in December.
Technically as well as politically, the eviction of the tree-sitters may
turn out to be very tricky for the Grenoble police and elected officials.
It is important to note, also, that this action is occurring within a
context of multiple space occupations in Grenoble, including many squats
that are full of activities, the university last December, and the Rio
Theatre, which was occupied for several weeks by the actors and technical


Nevertheless, the mayor’s office has already started proceedings within
the Administrative Courts to evict the Paul Mistral Park tree-sitters.
The mayor has, however, declared that he would respect the “Christmas
truce”(?). All the same, the eviction may take place in the weeks just
after the holidays. The tree-sitters are therefore calling for many
people to come and support, whether or not they are experienced in
climbing and action camps (there’s room for everybody) and is also looking
for various equipment. One of the possibilities being, of course, to join
them for a few days, a few weeks, or until the eviction, to make the Park
occupation more widespread.

The future and the possibility to make the mayor bend will depend in part
on the number of determined people who are present on-site and on the kind
of defenses put in place against eviction. An extensive telephone tree
has already been created for a rapid-response network to react to any
attacks on the camp.


Politically, the tree-sitters are collectively calling themselves
“eco-citizens”. The choice of this name poses legitimate questions. The
term “citizen” is, in effect, taken on as a mark of political and social
responsibility by many people engaged in “civic affairs.” It is,
nonetheless, strongly criticized by the majority of the libertarian and
anti-authoritarian movements, who see it as an emblem of the
legitimization of the State, a reinforcement of the structures of State
oppression, and a refusal of all political confrontation outside of the
institutionally-authorized and media-approved frameworks. The
“eco-citizens” put forward an ecological discourse to save the Park.
Furthermore, the “eco-citizens” are calling themselves “apolitical” and do
not belong to any “party” or “association”. This claim of neutrality
seems nonetheless to be part of a will, above all, to keep away any
electoral cooptation by the institutional political parties, be they Green
or UMP (Union for a Popular Movement, ruling party in France(?)). The
stakes are enormous, and many politicians may seek to take advantage of
the fact that the Socialist city government is taking sides on a popular
struggle like this one. (?)

With these considerations in place, the discourse of direct action that a
project like this undertakes can in itself appear to be full of political
radicalism, just as radical as many other forms of theoretical discourse.
The way that this protest occupation has developed into a temporary space
for community life, has transformed this adventure into an experiment in
collective and egalitarian organizing and living. It also allows many
people, who may be relatively new to direct action, to discover new
practices in activism.

This type of permanent action camp to protect a site or to prevent a big
construction project, notably the use of a hanging village, is still a
relatively new tactic in France. The Paul Mistral Park struggle can
therefore create a precious space apprenticeship and skill-sharing. Other
action camps like this were able to create a significant balance of power
over the past ten years, in other European countries. It is possible to
conceive of the “action-camp” strategy as a means to prevent the
construction of new prisons, immigrant detention centers, supermarkets,
roads, nuclear power plants, etc…

Furthermore, because of its specific focus and local context, this action
is the source of multiple positive connections and exchanges with the
Grenoble residents; these ties are extremely precious and often too rare
within the context of direct action.

So, the only thing left to do is to join them or to follow their example
in other places!

Here is their contact information:

Le Platane Insoumis, Parc Paul Mistral (The Rebellious Plantain Tree, Paul
Mistral Park)
38100 Grenoble FRANCE

E-mail: lesecocitoyens-A-fr.st
Website: http://ecocitoyenwebsite.ifrance.com/ecocitoyenwebsite/

--A libertarian in solidarity with the Paul Mistral Park occupation

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