The Paris occupation (@OccupyDefense, http://www.occuponsladefense.net/) started Friday at 5 PM with a reported “several hundred” occupiers on the Parvis at La Défense, the huge corporate skyscraper park with its giant Arch that aligns with the Arcs de Triomphe at the Etoile and at the Louvre.
The occupiers had been granted a permit by the police to be at the site until 9 PM, but not to camp. But they were determined to stay the night, and for as long as possible thereafter.
When the first tents were deployed, police rushed in and confiscated them. They were immediately replaced. By 8 PM about 20 tents were up, and the group numbered about 450. Marine: “We’re here because we want a real democracy, instead of a choice between the plague or cholera every five years.”
At 9 they started preparing for a police action by surrounding the tents in a circle with arms linked. About a hundred police (gendarmes mobiles, who are actually military) in riot gear formed ranks on either side of the square. At 9:30 they attacked, forming a square around the camp. Tents were ripped apart; tents with people in them were dragged away.
A handful were arrested, and one man was carried off on a stretcher (concussion and cervical injuries). A woman was injured by a tear-gas grenade. A medic complained that police kept him from doing his job.
Some tents remained after the police assault. At 2 AM police mounted a last assault against the 50 or so occupiers still on the site (reports are that the group numbered up to 800 at one point). Food and blankets were confiscated, but the 50 stayed the night anyway.
A GA was held the following day. Some 40 occupiers spent the night Saturday-Sunday. A GA was set for 3 PM Sunday. If the occupation continues, afternoon GAs are a good idea because they’ll be visible to the thousands of office workers who work in the buildings at La Défense.
A call has gone out for people to come and spend the night in the camp tonight (Sunday).
More news: – Police are searching people arriving at La Défense via the nearby commuter rail station and confiscating any food, tarps, and tents. It looks as if they may be allowing sleeping bags. Pictures here – I just saw a tweet asking for help with a planned march from Nice (France) to Athens. I’ll try to keep y’all up to date on that too. Love & Solidarity with our comrades in France and Greece.
PARIS UPDATE: Monday: 86 occupiers managed to stay overnight for the third night. The police harassment seems to have lessened, but they still have no tents or tarps. Video here – at one point the occupiers read the newspaper reports on the occupation and point out the spin, misinformation, and outright lies item by item.
Tuesday: A group of 78 made it through the fourth night – it was cold, but the dampness was the worst thing. No head count yet. They’re inviting people to share breakfast. CRS riot police are present, but seem cool and there’s some dialogue. A few umbrellas, cardboard shelters. No tents or tarps allowed. Police presence seems discreet. Arriving office workers stopping to talk. Lawyer negotiating about whether a more permanent camp might be set up… Police not allowing Occupiers to shelter under the Arch when it rains… Now have permission to have camp stoves… (seems to have been rescinded later…) So people are sleeping on cardboard in mist and rain
Tuesday: A police inspector came to the camp and said that such items as camp stoves and tarps are not covered by whatever authorizations were given and will not be tolerated. A spokesman explained that the behavior of the police has not been in keeping with the law either. The inspector’s position was that he could not speak for his hierarchy. The spokesman explained to the camera that the occupiers’ position is that he or any other individual could not speak for the consensus, but that the occupiers’ position is that they are assembled in a public space to discuss and debate to achieve consensus, and that discussion continues day and night and that they have a right to be there. “We’re both standing on either side of a yellow line of legality, and both sides are stepping over it and stepping back.” Police inspector left, but seemed to be listening.
Tuesday night: Occupiers had deployed a few tarps to keep their clothes and cardboard (for sleeping on) dry, and the CRS (police) came and told them to remove them and while they were discussing whether to comply, about 50 CRS charged and tore out the tarps, injuring one person. (The man in the lower right being spoken to by occupiers at the start is a police inspector.) Later the GA discussed under what conditions unions should participate (or not) and how to develop and distribute flyers. The message being proposed is in line with the OWS message – “We are the 99% and we will not allow the 1% to decide for us.” Meanwhile the Save the Postal Service action was starting in NOLA…
Wednesday night: Estimate is about 100 people at 11 PM. Livestream is saying they’re expecting a police charge during the night or early in the morning. Reports of a large contingent of riot police “moving closer to the camp.” They’ve moved the camp and they say it’s looking more and more like… a camp – which is the pretext for a police action. They’re asking people to come and bring cameras. There was a problem with several drunken people who stretched the occupiers’ capacity for tolerance. But other people who were drinking engaged in productive discussion. People on the chat surmise that these individuals may be seeking to cause confrontation as another pretext for police action.
Update – 12:30 AM: Report on the chat (no live video): “The tension is lessening,” meaning less fear of a police assault. More tomorrow…
UPDATES AND RELATED POSTS:
Paris Occupation Update: http://99getsmart.com/?p=1030
News of the Paris Occupation: http://99getsmart.com/?p=779
News of the Paris Occupation 11-9-11: http://99getsmart.com/?p=805
Update: News of the Paris Occupation: http://99getsmart.com/?p=873
Occupy La Défense, Paris: http://99getsmart.com/?p=791