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

Press release following the occupation of the Clémenceau gymnasium on Thursday 16 September, feedback on the course of the occupation and the negotiations with the prefecture.

On Thursday 16 September at 7:30 am, the eviction without prior notice of the Feyzin squat was allowed by a huge police force. It seems that neither the prefecture, nor the DDCS, nor the Ofii, nor the Metropolis, nor the Salvation Army, considered it necessary to warn the inhabitants of an operation which seemed to have been planned for weeks. Many people had, the day before, left the squat after the information had leaked, for fear of the police intervention. They were therefore not taken into account in the accommodation system (despite social diagnoses which normally lead to care even in the absence of the inhabitants at the time of the eviction). The figures given by the prefecture and the press are therefore largely underestimated. Out of 120 to 150 people counted in the squat, only about 50 people were taken by bus to the Chabal barracks, an accommodation center in Saint Priest known for its undignified reception conditions. If 14 people “refused” the offer of accommodation, it is because it was conditioned to an assisted voluntary return, which simply consists in accepting to be deported. Do we have to remind the prefecture once again that these people are here to stay and that neither their presence nor their right to unconditional accommodation is negotiable? At the end of this operation, and without counting the people who have been lost, at least thirty people, alone or with their families, found themselves on the street that day.

What did the prefecture expect when it deployed such a massive police operation and offered only a few places to stay, and in unworthy conditions? We inform the prefect that following the evictions, the former inhabitants do not evaporate: they mobilize to have a roof over their heads. Faced with the urgency and lack of solutions, the same day at 5pm, the Clémenceau gymnasium was squatted by about fifty people, residents and supporters, quickly joined by many others, around the same demand: a dignified, permanent and unconditional rehousing for all the evicted from Feyzin.

Very quickly, the municipal and then the national police arrived in numbers, followed by two executives of the prefecture, the director of the prefect’s office, two representatives of the DDCS and elected municipal officials of the 7th district of Lyon. For five hours, the police surrounded the building, pushing back the supporters and preventing anyone from joining or leaving the occupation, arming themselves and regularly displaying their eviction equipment. In total during the day, hundreds of cops were mobilized to intimidate, control, threaten and repress people without housing. But it seems that the prefecture is less inclined to evict people and especially children in the center of Lyon, in full view of everybody, than the same morning in Feyzin. At the beginning of the evening the negotiations started. After two hours of occupation, the first proposal is laughable: the accommodation of only one family. The second one is scandalous: accommodation for one family, and a proposal of 2×45 days of accommodation for the single men under the condition of signing an “aid to voluntary return”. The occupation continues to obtain the rehousing of all. Negotiations continue until we get the accommodation of 3 families, and an appointment next week at the prefecture to present the files of about twenty people in the perspective of an accommodation or a place in CADA. It was also negotiated to leave the gymnasium without violence and without identity checks; this is how the occupation ended at around 10 pm.

The victory is bitter and the relief short-lived: we still have to take the families to their new accommodation ourselves, realize that one of the hostels has not even been informed and wait an hour for the family to be finally welcomed but forced to sleep in a common room that already housed a family, find a solution for the fifteen or so people still without a solution and waiting for their appointment, and mobilize again and again in the coming weeks so that the promises are kept. We also know that the accommodation at the Chabal center will be precarious and of short duration.

This situation is representative of the more global situation in the Rhône, where 10,000 additional accommodation places are needed, and where attacks and threats against informal living spaces are ever more frequent. This eviction comes just one week after the electricity was cut off at the “Augustine” family squat in Villeurbanne, and shortly before a series of trials of other squats, which raise fears of numerous evictions before the beginning of the winter break. The State persists in its repressive logic of criminalizing precarious people and exiles, while the campaign promises of the so-called left-wing and ecologist city councils and metropolis are far behind us. The solution to the repressive impasse is simple: Papers for all, housing for all!

The occupants and supporters

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