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(en) cnt-ait: The other assault on the Capitol 25 years ago ...

Date Fri, 29 Jan 2021 08:21:44 +0200

For French people, the Capitol is not only the US institution, it is also the name of the City Hall of Toulouse, 4th city in France in term of inhabitants, and France's capital of anarchist movement since one century. ---- This story of the assault on the Capitol Hill in Washington reminds me of another assault, just 25 years ago, but in Toulouse ... December 17, 1995, was the last demonstration against the "Pension and social securty reform" ("plan Juppé" in French, named from the 1st minister of that time, Juppé). The social movement against Plan Juppé has been the widest since May 68, a renewal of contestation, with massive demonstration and large general strike in public transport branch, paralyzing the country for one month.
For the last demonstration of the movement, Unions had decided to make it a show off, to demonstrate strength and calm, and above all to organize the movement's funeral with great fanfare. They wanted to stop the strike and street movement, to make place to round tables negociations. Christmas was approaching, it was time for the «confectioners' truce» (tradition in France that all type of conflicts are stopped during Christmas holidays). The Unions had therefore decided to exhaust us in circling around the city center but above all not to return to the center so as not to hamper the shops and stores on these eve of the holidays[1].

There had been a huge crowd at this demo. It is even the biggest demo ever seen in the history of Toulouse, 100,000 people ... Arrived at Esquirol square, after walking in circles all afternoon, walkers still had a desire for something more... The demo couldn't stop there... We didn't feel tired despite the endless journey. A friend disguised as a ninja turtle, ski mask on the face, an helmet and a DIY shield made with a speed limit sign starts to shout«it's at the Capitol that we will have fun». While the Unions turn right to go towards the Carmelites square, the demo branches off to the left and continues towards the Capitol square. We are several thousand. Arrived at the Capitol square, (the Cap'), the place is invaded.

The friends of InfoSud (autonomous magazine of the time) try to hang their black banner on the Capitol's gate. The doors opens. Parked at a corner of the square, behind the red and black banner of your favorite anarchosyndicate, the companions say to themselves «it seems that things are moving at the Cap's doors, they have managed to get into the city hall». 2 friends run to see what's going on. They are followed by 2 other fellow mates, then 20, then 200,then everyone who is rushing to the doors. The rest of the demonstration follows the movement...

In fact the doors had opened to let out the mobile guards (anti-riot elite unit) piled up in the courtyard of the Capitol building. Getting outside, they were not wearing any protective equipment, only wearing their caps... When the wave rushes on them, the impact is frontal on the plexiglass shields. The flag poles come down. A few caps fly. Teeth too. The blue line is scattered. Anti-riots flee and get back quickly into the Capitole to lock themselves in the town hall. From the first floor, on the balcony of the Capitol, mobile guards smash the window glasses of the Hall of illustrious people and swing the tear gas to drown the Cap Square. But the demonstrators do not move, even ask for more. Families with strollers barely take shelter under the arcades surrounding the square. Workers on striker and autonomous squatters help each other to gather garbage cans (the garbage collectors had been on strike for several weeks) on the door of the Capitole Opera House which is inside the City Hall, and set it on fire. The door starts to burn ...

The demonstrators are spreading in the small streets around the Capitol to take a stand. A customer rushes out of the hairdresser, in a blouse and his hair full of shampoo: the rioters were in the process of overturning his BMW to make a barricade of it. In Paragaminière street, other rioters help the shopkeeper of a small convenience store to bring in his shelves; in exchange the shopkeeper gives them water and lemons against the tear gas. A few cars are overturned to obstruct, small groups harass the cops without stopping. Young people from working-class neighborhoods, on a strolling in the city center, are joining the movement. The cat and mouse game lasts several hours, taking advantage of the night that has just fallen. The «sugars,» those white cop vans, zigzag to avoid the projectiles and the trash that fall on them.

Not a single person was arrested, and also not a single store window fell: that night, despite shopping day and Christmas Eve, the targets were the cops. Young and old, activists and onlookers, all together. Pure rage, without opportunism neither consumerist nor political.

The following day the news headline » Anarchists assault on Capitole: 200 Anarchists behind a Red and Black Banner Attack the Capitol. They threw away whatever they had in their pockets: bolts, beer bottles, etc. The thugs get involved «. Baudis, the Mayor of Toulouse, speaks of an insurrection. A federated anarchist group, whose name will be kept silent for pity,made a statement to complain that «the police headquarter obviously took no measures to prevent the demonstration from accessing the Capitol square » (the Police union, FASP, will also complain on the same tone... ) and reject any confusion between anarchists and thugs. The CNT-AIT for its part, only disputes that - contrary to what newspapers wrote - the demonstrators didn't joined the demo with any projectiles in their pockets and asks the question of police provocations ...

In the evening with our friends of the anarchosyndicate, we had a great meal in the self-managed restaurant of Titi and Nicolas. The caps - war prizes - turn from one head to another, we laugh, one compañera takes out the accordion, we sing and laugh loudly.

It was the best Christmas of my life ...

The reform pension has been withdrawn, and would be reintroduced only 10 years after. May be this assault on the Capitol had played a small role in this

Little Mouna ...

[1]Here is what the "Dépêche du Midi", the main newspaper of Toulousesaid in its edition the day before the demo: «To spare the city center shopping streets, the Capitol square, the town hall and the prefecture from the demonstration, admit that it is a feat! This is the concession made by the Unions ... who do not want to make their movement unpopular by «too many demonstrations». For shops and retailers in the centre, this means (finally!) peace in front of their stores. It's terribly important on this first Saturday of the Christmas rush. The same satisfaction is obviously valid for buyers: they will not feel any discomfort. The city center (clean since yesterday) will be free of any event, and perfectly accessible. ... We salute this great loop... of great capacity, open and intelligent, which «does not strangle the city. When the demonstration will be in Saint Cyprien square, we will be quiet in town! On the other hand, Esquirol square and Languedoc street will be drowned in demonstrators, say around 4 pm to 4:30 pm, at the time of the dislocation. " the police authorities and the unions had obviously planned everything... except a minor glitch...

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