Lyon: occupation of the Clémenceau gymnasium for immediate and permanent rehousing of those evicted from the Feyzin squat

This morning, Thursday 16 September, around 7:30 am, without prior notice, more than 20 vans of the national and municipal police, CRS units, PAF (Border Police), accompanied by representatives of the prefecture, the town hall, DDETS/DDCS, Ofii and the Salvation Army, deployed a huge operation to evict the Feyzin squat, the former Georges Brassens school. Since February 2020, the place was sheltering 100 to 200 people, families and isolated people, and was under pressure, threats and lawsuits from the owner, the multinational Total.

No one, neither residents, nor supporters, nor associations, had been officially warned of the intervention. Most of the inhabitants were not able to recover all their belongings. Would it be more important for the institutions responsible for providing unconditional housing for everyone to protect Total’s image from yet another scandal than to respect the residents and their right to housing?

This eviction leaves dozens of people homeless, since many residents were evicted without being offered any housing solution, despite numerous social diagnoses and empty promises from institutions. The only response of the Ofii was to offer them Voluntary Return Assistance to push them to leave the territory. For the few people who had the right to accommodation, they were taken by bus to the former military barracks of Saint Priest, the Chabal Barracks, transformed into an accommodation center. The conditions of reception there are unbearable: no individual rooms, insalubrious building, surveillance cameras and private security.

This reflects once again the repressive and undignified management by the Prefecture and the State of the precarious and badly housed. Because of the lack of necessary places for emergency accommodation – there are 10,000 places missing in Lyon – and because of the State’s policy of non-accommodation, many people will find themselves on the street as of this evening.

Faced with evictions, there is only one solution: occupation!!!

Faced with the urgency of the situation, we are occupying the Clemenceau gymnasium, 66 rue Béchevelin, in the 7th district, to house those evicted from the Feyzin squat.

This occupation is not a lasting solution: we demand the immediate rehousing of all those present. Until then, we call for massive support from all of us, individuals, associations, collectives. Join us now at the Clemenceau gym, Lyon 7.

We need sleeping equipment (mattresses and blankets), food (vegetables, dry goods), cooking equipment and electricity (extension cords, power strips).

Join us at 66 rue Béchevelin.

Squat du gymnase Clémenceau
66 rue Béchevelin, 69007 Lyon, France.

Lyon squat evicted in 7am raid

After months of threats from oil supergiant TotalEnergies, the abandoned school on Jean Bouin street was cleared out by a huge police operation yesterday, sparking alarm over the use of disproportionate force.

The former Georges Brassens school, which was originally occupied in early 2020 and housed up to 200 people, mostly Eastern European and Central African families, was down to 65 residents when the raid took place after co-ordinated pressure from the labour and immigration ministries, national police and city authorities.

Witnesses said more than 15 vanloads of police turned out to enforce the eviction, which involved the 7am rousting of 44 adults and 21 minors, with 48 people being relocated to the former Chabal fire station in Saint-Priest, which is managed by the Salvation Army. A further three agreed to be placed in a “voluntary return assistance” programme while 14 refused and were rendered homeless.

Authorities attempted to justify the raid on health and safety grounds, saying the site had unsanitary conditions and is at risk from its position on the edge of a Seveso classified industrial site. Seveso is a series of EU directives requiring member States to identify areas at risk of major accidents and in need of strict safety policies.

With the eviction order originally being signed off by the Court of Appeal in July, NGOs and solidarity organisations knew an evacuation would take place but were not informed of the date and time until shortly before it happened — even city mayor Murielle Laurent said he was told the plan was about to be carried out only a few hours prior.

A number of solidarity activists arrived while the operation was in progress, to try to help the evacuees as best they could. Among these volunteers, members of La Calle collective were critical of the “very massive police force” and noted that “very few accommodation proposals were announced.”

The group urged locals to join an occupation of Clémenceau gym on 66 Bechevelin road and bring friends and food, blankets along with other necessities.

Berthe, a member of CLASSES (a Lyonnais collective for access to schooling and support for children in squats) , expressed shock at the nature of the intervention. “They seem to take advantage of the slum upgrading plan to control the inhabitants and their administrative situation,” she said. This is not the aim of the process. “

Supporting groups noted that, as the squat had been under threat since July, many of the former residents had already moved on and opened new buildings, such as Amphi Z and Maurice-Scève college. Due to a shortage of 1,000 emergency accommodation places in Lyon however, and because of the State’s policy of non-accommodation, many people will end up on the street.

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