Again, on the night of November 9th, 2015, people without papers blocked the highway near the jungle with barricades. However, last night it was not just the people protesting who were affected but instead the police decided to collectively punish a large proportion of the jungle.
By midnight there was continual shouting from the protest on the highway, while the police launched tear gas at the area of the jungle nearest the highway, lorries could be heard bleeping their horns.
The protest chant of the people was « no more jungle ! ». To begin with tear gas was fired continually by the police to forcibly drive people away from the highway and back into the jungle. Trucks and cars were able to pass throughout the night, even though the highway was partially blocked by a makeshift barricade.
Many protestors from the jungle were trying to jump onto lorries but were unsucessful. One truck driver brandished a gun, pointing it at people beside his cab. Throughout the night trucks dodged barricades thrown into the road to stop traffic. At one point there were 30-40 people surrounded by tear gas with nowhere to run, their only option, curl up into a ball on the floor.
The police's use of a CS gas (tear gas) on refugees has become a disturbingly normal practice. The population of the jungle has been subjected to an unprecedented level of chemical warfare, the same chemical deterrent used in Palestine and Ferguson rains down on the camp on an almost daily basis. The trigger happy police use the tactic of carpet bombing the area around them with incendiaries, firing round after round at anyone who moves. This includes attacking people in areas where there is no chance of escape, trapping refugees in small narrow paths in the bushes around the camp. This is not designed to disperse people, it is not the mark of someone defending themselves, it is a form of collective punishment.
At the same time as this protest was happening near the main entrance to the jungle, a smaller demonstration started on a side road that gives access to the rear of the camp. On this road people found vegetation to burn and dislodged street signs to form barricades. In response to this second protest the police fired an unprecedented amount of tear gas into the area, those protesting responded with projectiles.
Without the slightest sense of concern for the 60 or 70 families resident in this area of the camp the police's barrage of tear gas and flash balls scattered over the camp, setting light to a tent, a pile of rubbish, trees, and bushes.
Mothers stood by while the police attacked, shouting in French that there were children in the camp. Groups of families returning from another part of jungle were caught by a plume of tear gas blowing across the area. Many of the protestors on the road used signs to protect themselves but the police continued to attack from several angles.
Late into the night, the police begin patrols to find migrants who had hidden in bushes by the road. At one point at least 20 cops shot tear gas for a full 5 mintues into an area until it was covered in smoke.
As the night continued, the intesnsity of the tear gas increased. The wind spread the cloud of caustic vapour around the entire west side of the camp. This was a clear message from the police, if you protest we will punish all of you. During the night there was also many injuries from tear gas canisters hitting people, causing burns and bleeding.
The injuries from this assault are difficult to quantify, it is easy to count the scores of respiratory problems, skin and eye irritations but the psychological trauma is harder to see. Women, children, and men fleeing conflict are treated to the best of French hospitality, a night of indiscriminate chemical repression exacted on the entire population of the camp.
Article published first on 10. Nov 2015 in :: calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com.