On the 4th of April in Strasbourg there was an uprising against the NATO-summit, against its foreign wars and their homeland war on resistance. Anarchists had already revolted last December after the murder in Athens and during the G20 protests in London. At these protests a man was beaten by the police resulting in his death. In Strasbourg the riots were initiated by Autonomists and the youths of the Banlieue. The authorities intentionally pushed the riots into the poorer parts of the city, here the population demonstrated a large level of support and solidarity with the violence towards the police force.
On the German side of the border over 20,000 police were mobilised. This was accompanied by legal deception with many so-called “agitator-letters” being sent (letters telling people to stay at home or face the consequences), terms of obligation were declared and travel bans imposed. The French authorities declared entry bans, so that many young people with European passports were confronted with police subterfuge and closed borders. In Freiburg on the 30th of March a anti-militarism demonstration, with more than 2,000 participants, had already taken place. The deployment of thousands of police was there to try and repress all forms of legitimate protest. The experience with the German police force, the closed borders, the actions of the French police forces in Strasbourg and the subsequent rapid court proceedings has resulted in the politicising and radicalising of many of the discontented.
The French police deployed an array of weaponry in order to quash the resistance. They fired tennis ball sized rubber bullets, causing extreme pain and internal bleeding. They used a large quantity of shock grenades in order to cause mass panic. Besides producing a bright flash and an ear busting ’bang’ (which can lead to long term hearing impairment), they also sprayed shrapnel like slivers of aluminium. These aluminium fragments are difficult to remove as they can’t be located using an x-ray. Added to this the grenades also cause burn injuries, when material from the grenade, presumably due to explosives that did not initially detonate, burrows in through the skin and clothing. Not to forget, is the direct explosion, and its effects on human tissue, from the grenade when it explodes.
The use of these military weapons against the population is to be condemned in the same way as the widespread use of chemical weapons. From the start to the end of the protest against the NATO-summit, protesters and their camp were bombarded with gas. Sometimes the gas-munitions were shot from helicopters. At the opening rally in the park Jardin des deux rives 20,000 people were gassed. Despite being clearly marked the paramedics were attacked when attending to injured people. This course of action was also followed for the press. As both of these groups were easy to recognise it must be presumed that it was deliberate. It is clear to see that in times of peace the Geneva protocol (17/06/1925) does not come into force: “Whereas the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices, has been justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilised world.”
There were also isolated examples of terror from the police. After the ’kettling’ in the Rue du Port du Rhin, plain clothed police dressed as autonomist demonstrators selected people who were then to be beaten-up by uniformed police. Prior to this a unit of CRS (the ill-famed French riot police) threw stones at peaceful demonstrators. As visitors left the anti-NATO camp money, laptops, cameras and mobile telephones were stolen by the police. When asked for a written proof of confiscation the reply was given “Laptop? What laptop? Go away!”
The youths from the Banlieue may have a different social reality to the Autonomists, but one thing unites us: our hatred of the state and its police force. The French state wanted to violently crush all forms of dissent in Strasbourg, regardless of whether they were peaceful or militant. The cross border co-operation which resulted in the celebrated border checkpoint torching was a symbol of how their repression tactic failed. As was smashing the military barracks windows a symbol of resistance against the martial-politics of NATO. The burned out hotel will never harbour the police again, and the pillaged gas-station was lived re-distribution of property. Only the damned church with the Victor Hugo graffiti “Religion is nothing but the shadow cast by the universe upon human intelligence” didn’t want to be burned.
Vive l’anarchie !
Autonome Antifa Freiburg
Communiqué from 09/04/2009