Accommodation. Against the Parisian squat, big arms rather than the law
“Even the street has become private? » In front of the barricade erected by the security guards of the private company SYS, Thursday, November 3, the fifty demonstrators are exasperated at not being able to move forward. For the past month, a collective called “La Super Cour des Miracles” has requisitioned this building on rue de Damiette, in the 2nd arrondissement. Their goal: to welcome artists and people in precarious situations into this building, which has been vacant for at least two years. But on October 20, OCP became aware of the occupation and dispatched a private security company to the scene. Then began a siege lasting several days, which ended with the departure of the occupants, exhausted and hungry.
The incidents start as soon as the owner discovers the squat. The same day, October 20, a security guard climbed the facade of the building through the gutter and managed to enter the first floor. “He attacked several comrades violently. One of them ended up with a broken hand and 21 days of ITT,” says Léa, a member of the collective. A complaint has been filed and the agent is summoned on June 6 before the criminal court. After this episode, the physical violence stopped, replaced by almost daily harassment from the security company. “They threaten us with death all the time. A few days ago they ripped out the leads in the street to deprive us of electricity and prevent any food supplies for those inside”, notes Etienne, also a member of the collective. Even the elected Green Frédéric Hocquard, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of tourism and nightlife, who tried to enter the building to show his support for the squatters, was repelled by the security guards. Just like the bailiff, brought on the spot by the militants on October 21 to make note the reality of the occupation, and which could only note the impossibility of entering the places.
The squatters’ lawyer denounces « illegal methods »
The processes used by the SYS company raise questions. Especially since the owner has not initiated any eviction proceedings. “However, the law stipulates that eviction from an inhabited place can only be prosecuted by virtue of a court decision. Which is not the case here since no procedure has been launched! » indignant Me Hanna Rajbenbach, who represents the collective. The lawyer denounces the use of “illegal methods”. For his part, Jérémie Assous, the owner’s lawyer, deplores a “Occupation which was totally illegal and particularly dangerous both for the occupants and for the residents and the building itself”. The use of the strong arms of the company SYS? « It is unfortunately essential to call on private security companies to prevent any illegal occupation of a building under construction in Paris », replies Me Assous.
In the street, the tension is rising this Thursday evening. The demonstrators end up forcing the security cordon and find themselves blocked in front of the entrance to the building. Three police officers come to lend a hand to the dozen security guards present. The slogans fuse and the activists attempt a breakthrough on the thin sidewalk, caught between a parked car and security. In this compact crowd, a policeman pulls out his gas canister to spray the activists and the first baton blows rain down. An imposing police force is then put in place, closing at the same time the perimeter of the building.
Civil servants and private security agents hand in hand
The past tumult, the collusion between the police and private security agents is obvious. Some shake hands, others chat. A security guard even offers to order meals for the police officers present. And runs. Once the victuals have arrived, some officials help themselves, others hesitate, before leaving with their steaming bags. “There is a form of uberization of repression. The police are satisfied with the way the security company is handling the situation. SYS lays down its law and it doesn’t move anyone », laments Lea.
But on the owner side, we assume this “direct” management. And we counterattack. Me Assous thus regrets « the damage to the building and the personal property of the security guards » and hope that « the perpetrators of these degradations will be condemned for the damage they have caused ». For the collective, the results of the evening are bitter. The last three occupants, exhausted, deprived of food and electricity, ended up leaving the building. With this forced eviction, about twenty people find themselves homeless again. Some have found refuge in another squat located on rue Saint-Denis. An occupation covered by an eviction procedure, legal this one. Like what, it is quite possible for a private owner of his property to achieve his ends, even by going through the law.