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(en) fRANCE, Account of coordinated inter-squats direct actions in France - supporting the "400 couverts" in Grenoble

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(nicolu-a-no-log.org)
Date Tue, 8 Mar 2005 16:19:45 +0100 (CET)


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FEBRUARY 25TH, GRENOBLE, DIJON, SAINT-ETIENNE, THONON-LES-BAINS, BESANÇON, PARIS,
TOULOUSE, LYON, REIMS, MONTPELLIER, NANTES, ALES, STRASBOURG, LA ROCHELLE,
RENNES, GENÈVE, NEULLY SUR MARNE AND OTHER CITIES ...
OCCUPATIONS, BANNER-RELEASES, WALLINGS, RUBBLE DROPPING, DEMONSTRATIONS,
OPENINGS, CONFRONTATIONS OF REPRESENTATIVES?.
ACCOUNT OF THE COORDINATED ACTIONS PROTESTING AGAINST SQUAT EVICTIONS IN
FRANCE AND SUPPORTING THE 400 COUVERTS ALLEY IN GRENOBLE.
contact in Grenoble : hommage_olivier_noblecourt@no-log.org
1) INTRODUCTION TO THE FRENCH SQUAT MOVEMENT ; PRESENTATION OF THE 400
COUVERTS SQUAT AND THE GRENOBLE BACKGROUND

2) BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE VARIOUS ACTIONS AND LINKS FOR PICTURES

3) HOW TO SEND PROTEST LETTERS AND FAXES TO SUPPORT THE 400 COUVERTS
AGAINST THE EVICTION...

-------------

1) INTRODUCTION TO THE SQUAT MOVEMENT ; PRESENTATION OF THE 400 COUVERTS
SQUAT AND THE GRENOBLE BACKGROUND

On the 25th of february, everywhere in France, squatters have stood up
both offensively and creatively to protest against evictions and to defend
these spaces of living, creation, social experiments, thought, meetings
and solidarity.

IN GRENOBLE...

Particularly emphasised has been the 400 Couverts' situation, threatened
by Michel DESTOT's socialiste (leftist) municipality. A large squat
movement arises through these actions to denounce coercion on the part of
both right-hand and left-hand city councils. Let's also keep in mind that
Grenoble has benefited over the last years from a very active and plural
development of squats. It has also witnessed the disclosure of various
struggles and types of direct and pro-anarchist actions facing local
authorities: throughout the 2003-2004 winter, occupation of the Paul
Mistral park, performed by the local people camping up the trees a couple
of metres away from the city council which planned to raze it; action and
criticism against the development of a Silicon Valley in Grenoble,
including mass-publication of a counterfeit existing local newspaper
advertising on new technologies ; occupation of Minatec's construction
site - Minatec being the next first European centre for the development of
nano-technology; a lot of radical feminist activities, as well as the
creation and publication of independent media.

THE 400 COUVERTS: WHAT? WHO?

Little street located in Grenoble city centre, squatted for over 3 years,
the 400 Couverts houses 20 people permanently, a public space dedicated to
free activities (debates, gigs, projections, meeting space used by various
groups?), including a free library, a garden, a home-made outdoor
baking-oven, as well as more or less successful experiments (vegetal roof,
vegetable plot, compost, organic pharmacy, free hardware base?). All these
spaces and activities were set up independently and autonomously, without
any institutional incentives and hardly any money, on a non-trading basis.

Grenoble local council, owner of the place, intends to evict and raze the
400 Couverts alley in order to set up an important housing project: the
erection of 12 social-housing parts. Evicting people who managed to
organize their spaces of living independently in order to furnish
accommodation to more or less the same number with standardized housing is
part of a bureaucratic scheme aiming for social control reinforcement over
dwellers. It is part of a systematic annihilation of spaces of invention
and criticism. In a city liable to spend millions on the building of a
stadium or on an upper-class art centre, it seems that squatters are not
preventing the councils to enforce their social projects. We are fighting
for this experiment to go on.

ON THE SQUAT MOVEMENT IN FRANCE

For a couple of years, France has seen the development of many independent
political squats, where are being lead alternative collective life
experiments and public political activities of various sorts.

These spots usually host anti-capitalist and pro-anarchist actions and
events, "free-zones" where goods and material are exchanged, squatted
vegetable plots, cyber cafes. These are places where alternative hardware
and software is developed, information, books and brochures printed and
brought out within "Infokiosques", where people work on counter-medicine,
recycling, bicycles, mechanics, wood and metal craft, serigraphy,
home-made building, sunflower-oil recycling for vehicles, organic seeds
exchange, single-sex groups for feminist, queer or transgender reflection,
street meals, free restaurants, bars, concerts, film-projections and
drama.

They differ from a type of "artistic squatting" (to be found particularly
in Paris) in the sense that they do not cooperate with local authorities
and explicitly question private property, State organization, profit and
power relations, and develop autonomous zones linked to various other
social struggles.

This is only a partial and rough account of a generally complex set up,
and it wouldn't be right to try and level too much these rather multiple
experiences and activities. Especially as the collectives mentioned do not
necessarily see themselves as part of a greater process.

Nonetheless, a couple of inter-squat gatherings have been successfully
organized over the past 3 years. Local inter-squat associations are
rather common and exchanges between squats all over the country are
brought about through specific actions and projects, friendships of
course, and networks involving squatters such as Sans-Titre
(www.under.ch/SansTitre), the Infokiosque network (infokiosques.net),
Indymedia, resistance festivals, the anti-prison movement, or nomadic
projects such as La Caravane Permanente (cp.squat.net).

Despite growing repressive attempts on the part of French
authorities, specifically directed against political squats - the
government has attempted to condemn the « sans droit ni titre » (rightless
and nameless) occupation 2 years ago through enforcement of "National
Security" laws - it is still possible to squat without risking
imprisonment, fortunately.

Though courts nearly always decide in favour of landlords and
order eviction, squatters usually benefit from a few months (or a few
years) extension when they fight through legal procedures, and also on the
public and political side. Thus, the number of evictions is rising, but so
is the number of re-openings. Over the last few years, a couple of squats
have even managed to cut short eviction threats and to achieve a kind of
stability thanks to a favourable power struggle with authorities, and
sometimes through negotiating with landlords (which is often subject to
debate?). It is the case for L'espace autogéré des Tanneries in Dijon, Le
Clandé in Toulouse, for the 102 in Grenoble, that have all been there for
more than 7 years. On the other hand, some of the most active squats, such
as Les 400 Couverts or l'Ekluserie in Grenoble, Les Diables bleux in Nice
are all under eviction threat on the short-term, or have just become so.
While in Paris, the socialiste councils do not even bother using legal
proceedings any more to enforce eviction.

It is thus essential for the movement to build up in
time an advantageous power struggle on a national basis, and, on the other
hand to work out alliances and cooperation outside of the squat movement.

WHY THIS COORDINATED ACTION ON THE 25TH OF FEBRUARY?

Denouncing the action of the Parti Socialiste, in place in Grenoble and
elsewhere, we meant to underline how much institutional urban and housing
policies constantly endanger these spaces.

Denouncing the Parti Socialiste's responsibility allowed us to remind
that, next to common right-wing repressive policies, "good-hearted
social-democrats" are the ones who call the police to evict illegal
immigrants and refugees on hunger-strike from their headquarters in Paris.
That its strategy regarding squats is often to legalize artistic
settlements for added value while, on the other side, they evict all other
sorts of squats with extreme violence. It fights the poors rather than
poverty. It cleans up cities rather than giving a chance to real attempts
for political change.

For Grenoble as well as for other places, we protest against a repressive
strategy concealed by "social" plans and urban policies, carried out by
all parties, from right to left.

Grenoble squatters and friends.

2)ACTION REPORTS FROM 15 TOWNS?.

GRENOBLE

Pictures for Grenoble:
http://grenoble.indymedia.org

http://indygrr.ouvaton.org/index.php?page=article&filtre=1&droiteA=1&numpageA=1&id=454

24/02/2005. During the night, a group of individuals has sabotaged the
parti socialiste headquarters main door with neoprene glue, toothpicks and
paint-bombs?. Only way to get back in: wrecking bar. Sounds familiar? The
PS evicts, lets evict the PS. They have been generously conceded an
explanatory graffiti. The PS headquarters are located on rue Mallifaud,
46, first floor. Have fun!

25/02/05. Around 14:30, approximately 50 people have dropped rubble in
front of the city hall. 2 signs have been put up the lump, saying: " What
the council makes of our houses" and "What should be down with places of
power". 2 banners have also been hung up on a bridge across the boulevard,
a few metres from the city hall, saying: "we've had enough, we're getting
organized: Autonomy! Squats! Things for free!, and " Who decides what for
whom? What decides whom for what?" As demonstrators were leaving, they
were violently disbanded by a surprise police drive. About 10 people were
arbitrarily taken, at least one of them with physical violence. They were
released after identity checking, needed for systematic filing of
individuals. 30 000 leaflets were spread out in the city, reminding the
critical situation of squats such as Les 400 Couverts, La Mordue, Le
Resistor, La Mèche and many other Grenoble squats. More info:
http://grenoble.indymedia.org

PARIS

http://paris.indymedia.org/article.php?id_article=33028

http://indygrr.ouvaton.org/index.php?page=article&filtre=1&droiteA=1&numpageA=1&id=453

photos : http://lille.indymedia.org/article.php?id_article=1016 .

February 25th, the 12eme arrondissement city hall was covered by piles of
rubble (as well as a large town planning model worth 10 000 euros) as a
protest against the squats eviction policy carried out by the left in
Paris and in many other cities.

On the 18th, the 12ème arrondissement city council, after a violent
eviction of students who had been occupying for a week an empty building
1, cite Debergue, to turn it into a house and centre of activity,
proceeded to destroy the stairs and inside of the building to prevent any
re-occupation. Demonstrations and actions to prevent the authorities from
walling the place had followed. A counterfeit council's poster with the
stamp of the city had also been glued around the 12eme arrondissement. Is
the Left talking "social policy", as it evicts homeless students without
discussion in the middle of winter, and this illegally? Does the "green
spaces" policy boasted on by the council imply razing empty buildings to
plant trees, and eviction of the homeless?

DIJON

In Dijon, a giant banner was spread 25metres from the ground on the
socialiste Dijon city hall roof, from a scaffold: "In Grenoble as
elsewhere, the PS evicts people. Let's protect the autonomous squat Les 400
Couverts."About 30 people stood below in solidarity, distributing leaflets
inside the offices to municipal workers, enjoining the sending of faxes to
Grenoble city council and confronting the representatives (the mayor and
its court who had stepped out, angered to be put face to face with their
contradictions?). After 2 hours exhibition on this busy Liberation street,
and a thousand leaflets handed out (see below), the scaffold's occupiers
came down with the banner. Other participants have formed a human chain to
block the cops about to control/arrest the climbers. The Dijon heads had
agreed to contact Grenoble once the people came down, what was done. The
press release stating what was in the leaflet was also sent to Grenoble
from the city hall. A phone meeting with Destot, mayor of Grenoble, was
also promised to the collective.

In Dijon, Les Tanneries, autonomous squat used for housing and activities
since1998, have survived thanks to a strong period of struggle and actions
after which the council had been compelled to sign a convention with its
occupiers. It seemed all the more important to demonstrate Les 400
Couverts solidarity, showing that only fighting pays.

photos :
http://www.dioxyde.org/statique/400couverts/

Full press release:
http://grenoble.indymedia.org

BESANCON

Some individuals have entered the PS council and tried to talk to the
mayor about Les 400 Couverts, about the security policy enforced on the
city, the destruction of many attempts to create independent zones
(systematic squat eviction). They have been stopped before reaching the
mayor's office and, after fierce discussions with the representatives,
came down to hand out leaflets, with banners and flags. Besançon's mayor
agreed to send a letter to Grenoble's mayor about the protest action and
asking for informations.

FROM SOMEWHERE IN PROVENCE

Grenoble city hall offices have been mail blocked.

SAINT ETIENNE

During the night of the 24th of February 2005, a group of individuals
inflicted the St Etienne PS a sample of what it does to many people. On
the morning, the members of the PS offices found their place
(symbolically) walled, as well as a demolition notice. In the afternoon,
they have received a eviction notice and some explanatory phone calls from
the Comity for Eviction, Destruction and Reenchantment of Occupied Spaces
by Social Parasites and Other Plagues.

Let's remind that IZMIR, a space of activity (computer resources,
restaurants, debates, infokiosques?) and housing, which has been open for
a few years, is also threatened of eviction by the St Etienne council.
More info: http://lenumerozero.lautre.net

NANTES

Individuals have dropped compost and garbage on the PS office's doorstep.
The socialiste council claims that evictions are being made "for the
squatters's own sake", putting forward the argument of health measure, and
obviously without trial nor deferment. In Nantes, the Baragouinage,
housing and feminist activity squat, opened a few months ago, and that an
old squat, L'Usure, is under threat of eviction.

THONON LES BAINS

Some people have gathered in Thonon-les-Bains, in Haute-Savoie, to protest
against eviction threats concerning Les 400 Couverts and inform about
their situation. A leaflet has been given out on an information press
table. It reminded how Grenoble city council is as bad as its right-wing
colleagues in terms of urban projects (empty buildings, "beautiful"
architectural projects meant for an wealthy elite, and cultural
development directed towards this same elite, and last but not least,
squat evictions?).

In Thonon, Le Train-train is a squatted building used for housing and
activity, including concerts, debates, an infokiosque. The SNCF (national
railway company), landlord, has demanded eviction.

MONTPELLIER

About 30 people have invaded the "Maison de la Démocratie", owned by the
city council, in the city centre, and hung up a banner against evictions.
When the simple request was made to send faxes to Grenoble, the answers
were: "This is impossible. If everyone starts to send faxes and things,
it's anarchy!", or: "This is private stuff. This is not public, it's only
a city hall office." The occupation thus lasted till the civil servants
and representatives working for this administration's media-puppet, the
Maison de la Démocratie, finally accepted to send the fax. Meanwhile,
employees were ready to use violence to prevent people from entering their
offices (door closed on hand). Part of the municipal staff eventually
turned up and called Grenoble. One participant then made the Grenoble
cabinet secretary read out the fax, making sure the latter had really been
sent.

Meanwhile, 3 flats, left empty by the landlords, were opened by an other
collective to the benefit of homeless families. Self-attribution has been
favoured to endless waiting lists?.The Maison de la Démocratie occupiers
joined the place, from where a group of policemen, who had come to evict,
left to the sneers of the local residents, after having been stuck in a
lift for an hour.

The month before, in Montpellier, The Great Revolutionary Anarchist Refuge
Unanimously Opened (French is grraou: grraou@no-log.org) was unanimously
opened. They have already organised a street meal and took part to a week
devoted to local initiatives against security policies.

REIMS

Posters and leaflets denouncing evictions and supporting Les 400 Couverts
and other squats were hung and given out in the area where former La
Grosse Caillasse was evicted in 2002.

LYON

http://rebellyon.info/article.php?id_article=125

After a visit to the PS office, which was covered by posters supporting
Les 400 Couverts and other Lyon squats, a group consisting of people
dressed up as cooks settled Place des Terreaux around a large pan where a
"rose soup" was being cooked (the PS symbol is a pink rose). Leaflets were
handed out, denouncing socialiste policies, "managers of poverty" and
informing about Les 400 Couverts and other threatened squats in and around
Lyon, such as the concert hall and activity centre GROUNDZERO. They remind
that, out of the 60 evicted squats over the last years, 80% are still
walled and unused. The gathering was disbanded by the police who proceeded
to id controls. Information will also be given during the ecologist fair
in Lyon, Primevêre.

NEUILLY SUR MARNE

http://paris.indymedia.org/article.php?id_article=33039

Some individuals from Neuilly sur Marne made up their minds during a feast
to support the 400 Couverts squat. One more drink, and the plates were
soon used to write clever messages such as "NO", "You are the baddies" and
"Long live squats" (couvert means knives-and-forks in French). Then,
stumbling a little, they reached the PS office of Neuilly. Though they
found the place closed, they nonetheless decided to decorate the door,
sticking the plates to it, and leaving a flier. Across the street, they
visited the town council in a similar way. Eventually, the main square got
the leftovers: plates, forks, spoons, knives and glasses?Neuilly supports
the 400!

MARSEILLE

During the afternoon, supporters have handed out leaflets in the city
centre, to inform the inhabitants on the French housing problem (can't
write "crisis" any more, it's been going on for so long), especially on
the Grenoble policy towards autonomous spaces. They organized an
infokiosque (free information and documents) on the Cours Julien. Many
people came for non-mercantile discussion on squats -surprising to see how
people were impressed with the brochures. Info on the Marseille situation
was greeted with much enthusiasm and encouragement to squat!! In the
evening, a special program on Radio Galère was broadcasted. Let's share,
expand our fights?

LA ROCHELLE

On the 25th of February, as the French Chancellor of the Exchequer was
resigning after the news spread about his government-paid 800 sqm flat in
the centre of Paris, some militants claimed the opening of a 800sqm squat
in La Rochelle. Located 45 Quai Maubec, in an old cooking school, on 3
floors, they are planning to turn it into an autonomous, cultural and
festive space. One floor dedicated for people living there, another for
local associations, workshops?.It includes a public kitchen, a library, a
"free-zone", and as many things you might want to do there. The PS council
wants them out, they're calling for help?

FINALLY, AN UNFORTUNATE EVENT THAT HAPPENED THE NIGHT BEFORE

RENNES

Thursday 24th, the police, boots and helmets on, has put an end to the
occupation of the former DDE administrative buildings renamed l'Ekluserie,
opened 4 years ago and used for many public activities (story-telling,
vegetable plot, computer resources centre, debates, gigs and
projections?). Coincidentally, bulldozers started their meal. Dwellers
were violently pulled from bed by the police. 5 minutes to gather a few
things and the razing had started. After a mess-up with the local TV, the
20 people present started to block the boulevard along the docks. Quickly,
the riot police and the vans came up. Tension sprung, people got taken. 3
of them were released, the 4th detained because he carried a knife. There
has been a gathering in front of the city hall, usually very posh and
clean, the building was occupied a few minutes for protest?and the
villains gazed a few people on their way?.Protesters started a fire on the
city hall place. During all the week after, people gathered every evening
to protest against the evictions (that was largely covered by local
medias, with the council reprensetatives justifying this eviction in
middle of the winter by saying they had to do because they had booked the
riot cops). They did various kind of rioting actions and illegal fires in
the streets of rennes.

AND OTHER THINGS NOT YET REGISTERED -LONG LIVE THE 400!- AWAY WITH THE PS
-. MORE INFO TO COME ON OTHER ACTIONS IN STRASBOURG, ALES, LILLE,
TOULOUSE, GENEVA, ETC.


3)HOW TO SEND PROTEST LETTERS AND FAXES TO SUPPORT THE 400 COUVERTS
AGAINST THE EVICTION...

THE MORE PRESSURE WE PUT ON GRENOBLE'S CITY COUNCIL FROM EVERYWHERE, THE
MORE THE 400 COUVERTS WILL BE ABLE TO STAY.

IF YOU INTEND TO CARRY ON PROTESTING AGAINST EVICTIONS IN GRENOBLE:

YOU'RE DAMN INVITED TO ORGANIZE YOUR OWN ACTIONS AND TO INFORM GRENOBLE
ABOUT THEM, BOTH THE 400 COUVERTS AND THE CITY COUNCIL OF COURSE.

IT'S ALSO GREAT IF YOU JUST TAKE A BIT OF TIME TO SEND ONE SHORT PROTEST
FAX OR LETTER TO DESTOT, MAYOR OF GRENOBLE. IT CAN BE JUST A FEW LINES IN
YOUR OWN LANGUAGE TO TELL THEM YOUR ANGER AND SUPPORT OF LES 400

HÔTEL DE VILLE 11, BOULEVARD JEAN PAIN BP 1066 38021
GRENOBLE CEDEX 1
TÉL. 04 76 76 36 36

FAX 04 76 76 39 40

EMAIL: CONTACT@VILLE-GRENOBLE.FR


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