Report: May 26th (Paris: Thursday, Manifestation)

report from

The oil strikes and blockades, which are now being reported more in the international press, have been ongoing since Thursday 19th, and with increasing strength. On Thursday we heard it was not possible to get cash or oil in Rennes, since the ATMs were smashed during the manifestation, and the refineries were on strike. This is an explicit case in which the actions ofcasseurs support the actions of a strike. Every day there has been news of another refinery blocked, a new one evicted. They are often reoccupied. Road blockades are too many to count. The headlines suggest that the union, the CGT, has the power to block the country, and Manuel Valls has reproached them for the same crime. On Tuesday Minister Bruno Le Roux (the leader of the Parti Socialiste inside parliament) seemed to move on the law, saying it could be modified, but head of FO Jean Claude Mailly, wrote back with the minimal demand of retraction. On thursday morning, a senior CGT member reported having received personal and intimidating text messages from a government minister.

Videos from elsewhere in France show gas workers singing antipolice songs at lines of gendarmerie “the police are paid for by our mothers, to kill our brothers, the police are paid for by our… we will never be police”, linked here . The longer that refineries remain blocked, the more chance there is that they will have to close down all together, since it is a health and safety concern to keep them running without workers. Tuesday 24th, 1/3 of gas stations were in complete or partial penury, according to Le Parisien, 6/8 refineries were stopped or functioned only partially, petrol boats were blocked in Marseilles, there was a call for a strike on the SNCF with 10% of members already striking. These strikes linked here, are, additionally, ongoing or about to commence in Paris . By Thursday 26th, 1/5 of gas stations nationally were without gas according to LeMonde’s live feed, 40% of gas stations in Paris were having trouble obtaining gasoline, and indeed, one in the 19eme read PAS DE GASOIL in 1m tall green felt tipped letters. The pickets had casualties too, in Cherbourg a unionist was killed on his motorbike on the way to a picket, whilst on another blockade a protester was injured being run over by a truck driver.

Thursday was counted as the 8th of grand day of mobilisation against the Loi du Travail,meaning that there were large mobilisations across the country, union marches, accompanied by strikes and blockades. The police estimate for the number of protesters for the whole of France was 180 000 whilst the CGT said it stood at 300 000 (Le Monde). In Paris, lycées _Voltaire _andMontaigne were blocked again, along with the industrial zone of the Porte of Gennevilliers (from 8h30-9h20). A manifestation walked from Bastille to Nation (a deliberately short route). As with last Thursday’s protest, the bloc autonome (non-union affliated block), which has been renamed the tête de cortège was large, full of everyone – black bloc and lycéens. The CGT had already started walking when we got there, presumably to stop the non-affiliated sections of the march from taking the head.

Sections of this tête _break off, break stuff, including the glass of bus shelters, the glass of moving billboards, the glass of shop fronts, but it seems only because it is glass, although some breakings are accompanied by anticapitalist chants. The rest of the crowd call to each other to wait, applaud when things are broken, and protect each other. They have a quiet solidarity with those more active, masked sections of the march, contradicting what is said against casseurs in the press. At one point the march tails to the right, presumably for an action, but after letting thousands through the gendarmerie try to form a kettle. Everyone boos and everyone is defiant this time, they walk forward, their arms raised, saying free our comrades in the imperative tense. The police push them back, gas them, but the whole of the march is there. As people are gassed, others take over, hands up. Everyone hates the police, the crowd chants, moving forward again. The police push back, beat people, use pepper spray. People reel, recover. Ahead you can’t see anything through the smoke. Later I hear that there were thousands crushed in to this space and the tear gas and disengagement grenades caused several protesters to go on fire, since the missiles landed on pieces of clothing. The crowd advances saying cassez-vous, (fuck off). Eventually the cops are defeated, give up, let everyone go. Everyone comes back in a rush, crying, injured, and the march continues.

The rest seems to be without police. More is smashed, including a skoda shopfront, which people get inside. This is all done under the watchful gaze of a high definition camera operated by an RG (French intelligence service) pretending to be a journalist, on a balcony, and as a few members of the _Cheminots _pass, saying casseurs, collabos (breakers, rioters, you collaborate with the state). The graffiti along the walls says things like 1789: les casseurs prennent la Bastille! (1789 the rioters/breakers take Bastille) and vivre, sans temps (to live without time) andenfin une manif qui se passe bien (in the end, the march went well). At one point an Emmaüsshop (a kind of large thrift store with cheap furniture and slightly too expensive clothes) is under threat. One section of the autonomous bloc argues with the rest – not Emmaüs! it is a shop, we understand, which caters for the poor. So the black bloc stand in front of it and everyone claps.


Nation is again a half nasse, a violent playpen: the police have cordoned half off it off using these transportable barricades. They are metal and are often used to block whole streets ahead of demonstrations. Every third manifestation or so, they seem to use them. I wonder how they transport them, since they are like large decorative screens that you might get dressed behind were they not made of blue mesh. A multi-coloured phoenix, made of cardboard, which has been there throughout the march, is emblazoned with the words à l’assaut du ciel. Marx’s letter to Kugelmann, 12 April 1871, re the commune: ‘…ces parisiens montant à l’assaut du ciel’ – ‘these Parisians storming heaven’. It goes up in flames, but is reported in Le Parisien as a ‘burning shopping trolley’. It has fake money in its jaws. The police have the perimeter of a half moon of the square and moreover the rest of the cortège has not arrived yet. People, standing on the grassy banks, on the floors, on beds of roses, on the square, throw things at the police. For a moment the sky is full of stuff, flying at random, then the gas comes back. The BAC (undercovers) come in, steal a random boy, everyone runs at the BAC, they come back with iron bars in their hands. It is reported that earlier that two of these undercovers were chased out of the demonstration, and that one got his gun out and pointed it at a protester. The square was again gassed, leagues of riot police charged, from one direction, from the next.

See also: 

Mouvement Inter Luttes Indépendant


LeMonde’s live feed


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