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Open Letter to the Prefect of the Loire-Atlantique Department

Monday 22 October 2012

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Open Letter to the Prefect of the Loire-Atlantique Department

Sir: the violence over which you preside is hardly a "proportionate response"!

This morning you took pride in the "restraint" showed by your men. It’s true that your superiors at Chefresne* have already demonstrated their ability to injure a great many people in a short space of time. Three people seriously injured, one of whom has since lost an eye, just another one to add to that list†, and 25 minor injuries in a few minutes. And all that for trying to symbolically topple a pylon transporting energy from a source of proven nuclear danger. You say you are proud to have refused to authorise the use of flash-balls, but you keep quiet about the use of stun grenades which have caused just as many injuries when they have been deployed. You send an army to our front door, then you portray us as the aggressors! You dare to ask us to remain calm in this situation, as though you had nothing to do with the cause of the unrest. Sir, you are without any shadow of doubt the greatest hypocrit ever to walk upon this earth!

You also denounce a so-called "call for armed struggle" of which we are apparently the authors, or at any rate the messengers. Have you really understood the enormity of what you are saying? Do you really know what a call for armed struggle is, or do you take your fellow citizens to be idiots? Do you see among us people with rifles in their hands, threatening your henchmen? Have we asked our supporters to blow up the hotels in which your garrison is sleeping? Sir, the words leaving your mouth stink like a corpse!

Though you very certainly deserve it, it is not us who attacks you. Don’t get it the wrong way round! It is we who are being well and truly attacked at this moment! It is therefore for us, and only us, to speak of "proportionate responses"...

You express outrage that one gendarme should suffer an extremely minor injury (requiring only one day off sick) while many people here have been injured during the repeated attacks on their homes. You came to throw people into the street, destroy their homes, and bulldoze fields whose produce feeds dozens of people. You have even destroyed dwellings on land that does not yet belong to you, while daring to lecture us on respect for private property! You have burned a hut to the ground without checking first whether there was anyone in it, and you refuse to accept that this might be a blunder worthy of investigation. Children lived here before. Perhaps you would like to explain your actions to them? Come and explain to them that the violence doesn’t come from your side. Frankly sir, aren’t you ashamed?

However, sir, the greatest blow for us is not the loss of our homes. We are self-sufficient, we can rebuild them in less time than it took you to mount this operation. We have learned to live without money, without television, and without dependence on the unbridled consumption that feeds your economic system. We make our own bread, produce our own milk, our own electricity, our own vegetables and our own meat, and we build our own living spaces. Perhaps it is this that you find hardest to bear? Because what we have shown here is that liberation is possible: both from your government’s grip, and from that of capitalism, here represented by Vinci and its partners.

What feeds our anger, and makes us more determined than ever to resist and remain here, is not the violent destruction of our homes. It is the destruction of everyone’s home—our planet—the place where our children must live. Your children also live on this planet, sir. It seems that we are more concerned about them than you are. The day will come when you will have to explain to them why your career was more important to you than their future.

You arrive with your army and your machines of destruction to destroy the woods and fields that are both one of the most important sources of water in the region, and a habitat for many species that are threatened with extinction. These are also the fields that have fed your fellow citizens for centuries. Sir: you can’t eat money! In the name of this sacred virtue you call "growth" you are destroying the only genuine legacy we can leave future generations.

Obviously, our only real fault is to refuse this world that you impose on us. A sterile world where people munch genetically modified products as they stare into their screens, where artificial fertilizers are the soil’s only sustenance. This is not progress!

We are wretched as we watch the earth dying from your drunken thirst for money and power. That is why we resist. And that is why, no matter how much violence you use, we will not leave. That is why we will continue our struggle! If we don’t do it, who else will? Some say it’s already too late. We refuse to believe that, and as long as there is even a glimmer of hope remaining we will put all of our strength into the battle!

We don’t have televisions to numb our brains and silence our consciences. We refuse to suppress our blind anger at the spectacle of the destruction of humanity for the sake of the interests of a tiny ruling class. We cannot let you do that and remain passive: that is too much to ask. We have long erased the word resignation from our dictionary, despite the violence of the state and of capitalism.

So yes, sir, if you send in the machines of destruction to the only living space that there is for our children, we will indeed reply with a call for the destruction of those engines of death before it is too late. This, sir, has nothing to do with an "armed struggle," and everything to do with a "proportionate response."

— An occupier who resists, Notre-Dame-Des-Landes, 20 October 2012

Notes: § The Paris-appointed prefect is the senior official responsible for public order in each French department. The prefect has local command of the army (including the gendarmerie) and police (including the CRS, compagnies républicaine de sécurité, armed riot police). * A bitter struggle against the construction of a new high voltage power line is centred on the village of Chefresne in Normandy. The line is planned to link the Flamandville nuclear power station currently under construction with the national grid. † In 2007, a Nantes student protesting at changes to the education system was shot with a flashball by police and was blinded in one eye. A court absolved the responsible officer of all charges in March 2012.