Ups and Downs

This weekend, we were lucky to have Samba bands with us to make some noise in parks and on the streets, to raise some smiles and distribute leaflets. It was quite nice to have them, and a bit embarrassing for me, as I don’t enjoy any kind of spotlight, much as I feel that I have things to say.

The police has been extraordinarily absent for most of the day, even when we marched towards the beach. Playing there was not such a good idea after all, as the wind was quite strong, and, save for a volleyball exhibition, not many were hanging out there. As everyone was having a break, some of us were thinking of chiding the CRS-rescuers, even though these never have anything to do with chasing migrants. Their work is more like a less sexy version of Baywatch. Oh well, the guys just don’t like the sound of CRS, so what do you want.

On the sand below the watch-cabin where the rescuers were dwelling, safe from the wind, there was a CRS-Baywatch jeep (already served with a CMS flyer-ticket), and a migrant father got his little kid on top of the jeep, to get a better vantage point over the sea. That wasn’t to the liking of the fluff-CRS, who eventually got out to blow his posh clear-sounding whistle. One of us had taken their picture, so the deal was already done, and we just left it at that without raising hell.

The rest of the day was as chilled out as that. As soon as the guys took a break from playing, it emerged that not many people were at the beach, and it would be a better thing to get somewhere else. So a decision was made to return to the park. There, things got a bit slow for a while, with people just resting, chatting and eating. Soon enough, some were ready to get back to playing.

As a samba beat rang out again, more people gathered, slowly. One fascist guy who was angry about it all just left shouting ‘Sieg Heil,’ but in rhythm with the beat of our players, so that most people just didn’t get what he was saying, not even the few people from Germany who were just next to him. Well, at least he didn’t give us any trouble, although I was looking behind my back every few minutes, expecting him to come back with mates or with a weapon.

But he didn’t, and the guys continued playing for quite a while. I’m not sure I could play like that, but I found it was a bit repetitive after a while. It was good to dance to, and I liked how they stopped here and there to shout ‘Solidarite avec les sans-papiers!’ What was good was also how some people were learning whilst playing, sometimes stopping to find their rhythm. I’m sure it was awfully embarrassing to them, and I was mentally preparing to put up a real fight, should anyone be crazy enough to entice me to play.

Another decision was made, not to go to the market in Mollien St, which freed my hand as I thought they might need me to get there. I cycled back home quickly. I needed to revive my laptop, who had died from a forced reboot in the morning. Also, I wanted to check on Initeraire Formation, that new agency I would have to go to, as part of my ‘duties’ as a jobseeker. It turns out it’s going to be very embarrassing. All those questions, all this scrutiny into your very life, who likes that? Well, that’ll teach me, saying that I don’t have any plan, save getting small jobs and trying to get by with that.

So now, I not only have to pretend that I’m looking for a job, I have to pretend that I have a new direction in life, and all this whilst uncovering bits of experience I just hadn’t paid attention to all those years. Youhouuuu! Talking to random people about my very self! But at least, I’m getting paid once a month rather than once a week. And people in Britain think they’re having it bad. You don’t get counseled, guys!

Once that was done, I took a couple of copies of documents that were due to be given to someone, and I left for the food distribution. It had rained like shit beforehand and I was feeling a bit guilty for having been sheltered from it even as the others must have been soaking wet. As I arrived, I realized that the distribution was already well under way, and found it was weird. ‘I’m not that late.’ I thought.

Once more music was played, a couple of people danced, and one migrant in particular was quite apt at it, under the smiles of many at his feminine ways. I found he was very good, but I ended up finding the music too repetitive again and lost interest. The guys stopped, and I realized, after a chat with D, that I hadn’t seen A. He had said he would leave with the samba crew, but it looks like he left before that.

That is a shame. A has been doing a lot of work in Calais, and I’m gonna miss him quite a bunch. He was very good at samba as well. He had poked me and my non-participation in samba/ leaflet-distribution by saying that ‘he loved those people who put so much effort into activism.’ Ah well, I’m not good with people.

Later in the night, I heard that the Africa House had been raided and I cycled there. On the way, I saw CRS officers enter 2 houses, invited in by neighbors. I was afraid of what that meant, and sadly JF came soon afterwards to confirm my fears. He explained that during the raid, several people had attempted to escape, and it seems they came into some people’s gardens, who just called the cops. I don’t believe I’ve seen them get out with anyone, so I assume the migrants were just passing.

I went to the entrance of Africa House, expecting shitloads of cops and potentially scenes of violence, preparing my dictaphone just in case, but the court was empty, with two of us hanging at the now-inexistent gate. It seemed all the CRS were on the street I had just left. After hearing that 8 people had been arrested, and that some CRS were just going through the court, sometimes disappearing, sometimes reappearing inside the squat, I went back to the area where neighbors had let in CRS officers. My mother and some other NB activists were there, and as you would expect, there was a heated dispute once the neighbors got out.

JF and my mother were taking the line that these were refugees, and they were CRS, so why even call the latter on the former? You know what can happen to them, deportation back to countries of oppression. It was interesting to see this discussion, most so because there were four CRS standing there, with mouths shut, for once. Naturally, the neighbors would mostly not hear anything, and insist that their private property had been violated, no matter what any of us could say about the property of migrants being violated in the first place.

One was less fussy about it, but insisted that she had no idea and just saw two strangers in her garden, that she had already been robbed in the past. I think I could understand that, and I wish the others had been less insistent at that point. At the time of writing, I have no idea what will come of this, if the media will make a big deal about it or not, but I certainly hope this incident doesn’t ruin our weekend efforts.

The issue is a difficult one, one we should all be ready to face with seriousness. When law is violated to such an extreme, it is time to ask yourself: Why is it that everyone is a moron and does not see that border controls create those situations? No one would have entered anyone’s garden, if they weren’t fleeing from a CRS officer potentially deporting him back to where he doesn’t want to be, most times for very good fucking reasons as mentioned above.

The heat got up between my mother and the CRS, as she continually and systematically destroyed the neighbors illusions about the CRS ‘enforcing the law.’ As if they had any law. Calling them thieves and all sorts of things, one of them took it a bit personally, and I notice that the others were keeping their calm, which was surprising to me. Isn’t this the CRS 8, the very violent ones? Ummm. So anyway, I also tried to entice my mom to more calm, as she is already on the tip of jail and she doesn’t need more trouble, not even an ounce more. Neighbors eventually got back in, and we were told to get back to the pavement and not harass the neighbors again. We all left, and not much more happened that I know of.

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