France: Thousands of police deployed to destroy ten-year-old land occupation in France

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Thousands of police deployed to destroy ten-year-old land occupation in France
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Since 9 April some 2,500 police officers have been engaged in the destruction of a ten-year old land occupation near Nantes known as the ZAD, which was originally established in 2008 to try to prevent the construction of an airport. Police have fired stun grenades and tear gas and have been accompanied by bulldozers that have razed the houses and other buildings constructed on the site. Residents of the land and supporters from further afield have attempted to stop the police operation with barricades and by throwing various projectiles including molotov cocktails.

From 9 April: French police clash with eco-activists as they clear abandoned airport site (Reuters, link):

"NOTRE-DAME-DES-LANDES, France (Reuters) - French police fired teargas and stun grenades and were pelted with stones during a dawn swoop to clear eco-activists and anarchists from a site in western France that had been planned as a new airport.

The site in Notre-Dame-des-Landes had been squatted for years by opponents of the plan to build a 580-million-euro ($710 million) airport which the government decided to drop in January.

Some 2,500 police took part in the evacuation which authorities said started at 6 a.m. (12 a.m. ET). Police had already blocked surrounding roads as early at 3:30 a.m., a Reuters journalist saw, while protesters set fire to barricades.

One police officer sustained an eye injury and a protester was arrested, said a police official who described the clashes as sporadic and relatively minor."

And:French police fire teargas to expel anti-capitalist squatters(The Guardian, link):

"The squatters have occupied the site for 10 years to prevent the airport from being built, but refused to leave after the plans were dropped earlier this year, saying they sought to construct an alternative way of life.

The government had warned they would be evicted and carried out this threat on Monday morning.


An attempt in 2012 failed to dislodge settlers of what is called the ZAD – zone d’aménagement différée (zone for future development) officially and zone à défendre (zone to defend) to protesters.

The eviction, named Opération César, led to clashes between the squatters and the police, and the government backed down following public outrage at the violent scenes.

Many of the squatters had abandoned their tents and caravans and built permanent homes, shacks and cabins, or had occupied abandoned farms, making them habitable and planting the land around.

There was a boulangerie, a brewery, a pirate radio station, an online newspaper and a weekly vegetable market."

The attempted eviction and destruction of buildings and other projects on the site has continued since then.

See: Clashes continue as French police clear anti-capitalist camp (RFI, link) and: Dozens injured as French police clash with activists at abandoned airport site (France 24, link):

"Activists clashed with police for a third day Wednesday in western France to oppose their eviction from a camp set up a decade ago in protest over plans to build a new airport.

The clashes erupted at dawn when protesters began throwing projectiles at officers from behind barricades set up to defend the camp at Notre-Dames-des-Landes, near the city of Nantes.

By midday the protesters' ranks had swollen to some 150 people at the location of the clashes, with police firing tear gas and stun grenades while activists set fire to at least one makeshift barricade and an abandoned car to halt the advancement of law forces."

Press release issued by the ZAD on 9 April 2018

Translated by Ed Emery (SOAS)

Press statement summarising a day of evictions at the ZAD, and a call-out for people to come to to the ZAD to help stop the operation.

The afternoon finished with the countryside of the ZAD asphyxiated by tear gas at the end of long hours of resistance to the destruction of living spaces and farms in the ZAD. At least 9 collective living sites have been destroyed, with their various special habitats broken up, their workshops smashed apart, their gardens trampled: these were the sites known as Planchettes, Planchouette, Lama fâché, Noue non plu, Youpi Youpi, Jessie James, Phare ouest, Chèvrerie, 100 noms.

The police invasion was met with various forms of resistance. Barricades, lines of tractors blocking the way, scuffles, people climbing onto rooftops, singing, linking arms. In the fields, facing the riot police and their deathly machines, there were old people, young people, neighbours, peasants, occupiers, comrades from all over France. Six of the protestors on the spot were wounded and seven people were arrested. In spite of the disproportion of the forces on the ground, and the absolute military superiority of the gendarmes, a little cunning and imagination was enough to set fire to their machines twice. The god of mud got another one stuck in the mud.

With every house that has been evicted and smashed by the jaws of the JCBs there is a piece of life that the state tried to eradicate here, and a solid surge of anger rising in us. Anger that has spread throughout the day to all those who have been watching these these events from a distance without having been able to come here in person. They will be more and more numerous in the coming days if the operation continues. They will come back en masse so that those who the state is thinking to evict from the countryside today will not remain homeless.

The destruction of the big barn, and the greenhouses, and the Sheepfold of the 100 Names. The eviction of the donkeys and the sheep reveal the absolute hypocrisy of the prefecture, including their statements about wanting to to preserve the agricultural projects. The prefect takes this opportunity to practise abject blackmail on other places that are agricultural projects: abandon the collective vision now, or you will suffer the same fate and the same destruction. The Maison des
vraies rouges, and the market garden, and the physic garden of Rouge et Noir, and many more, could well be the targets tomorrow.

Regarding this farm, a reference for assault will be filed by Me. Hurriet against the Prefecture. [...] Today, once again, the bailiff who was present at the eviction of these places refused to show the official eviction judgment and refused to give them his name.

Throughout the day, many supporters have already come forward. There have been press releases and appeals from various organizations (Sud Rail, Greenpeace, etc.), and an occupation of the town hall in Forcalquier, and rallies all over France.

The government has announced that the evictions will continue tomorrow. It is determined to eradicate the experience of the ZAD. We have to stop them, and take root, and stay. We are calling on everyone who is able, to come to the ZAD at dawn tomorrow, to block this operation. We call for mobilisations and determined protest actions everywhere in France.

The ZAD will stay!

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