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Rohanne Forest: This is Far from Over!

Wednesday 28 November 2012

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The Rohanne Forest, in the centre of the ZAD. People lived there fairly peacefully for around two years, in a big communal house and scattered treehouses. The police came and destroyed the house what seems like a long long time ago, on the 18th October 2012. A new communal was built high up in the trees. The cops came back with climbers and destroyed all the treehouses including the communal on the 30th and 31st October. Another new communal was built. They came back on the 5th November and destroyed that one too.

Then things started to get interesting.

We needed help, and we made a call out for people to come and help us reoccupy the week following the reoccupation demo on the 17th and the response was almost overwhelming. An incredible collective energy buzzed in the forest, and the group mainly occupying the forest quadrupled in number at least. Whether building defenses, building platforms, teaching knots, learning to climb, cooking, building on the ground, chopping firewood, carrying materials, sorting climbing materials or just having a tea... there were always huge numbers of wonderful people filling the forest with a whole new life.

By Thursday not only were there many new platforms, a beautiful ground cabin, a high net and numerous walkways, but also a new shared confidence that there is energy and desire to defend not just this forest but the whole ZAD. That so many people put their energy and skills into building despite the high risks I find deeply inspiring.

In the morning of Friday 23rd November the police came to evict the forest for the fifth time, but for the first time they were unsuccessful. It is hard to say exactly how many people came to stand up to their knees in mud all day in front of the bulldozers to block the passage, but certainly more people than had ever been in the forest before. Hundreds of people, from close by and far afield, stood firm in front of the machines, singing and laughing at the grim lines of cops. Just before nightfall the machines turned around and left, without having touched the houses.

Of course the story doesn’t end there. The next day, Saturday 24th November the police swarmed the forest from the early morning, sending seemingly endless lines of over-equipped, helmetted military cops into the once peaceful forest. This time the machines and climbers entered and destroyed every cabin, treehouse, platform and structure that had been built, and took every plank, every pot and pan away with them. Just as in the other evictions they were violent, aggressive and extremely dangerous. Their machines crashed into trees where people were high up in the branches, and once again they seemed unconcerned for our safety or even their own. However this eviction had one significant and glowing difference from all the others so far.

As well as there being more people high up in the trees and on the walkways, the number of supporters on the ground was vast, and constant. Despite some of the worst cases of police violence since the evictions started, despite concussion grenades every few minutes, despite a permanent and thick cloud of tear gas, despite numerous police charges to try and get people out of the forest.... hundreds and hundreds of protesters united together and stayed in the muddy forest. Hundreds of people were still singing, and a samba band still playing, when well after dark the police finally started to back out of the forest. As they slunk away the cowards took the liberty of showering the forest once again with so much tear gas that it would truly stun me to ever see a salamander there again.

I don’t know exactly what the next stage is but whether or not we rebuild is not in question. After hundreds of people showed themselves willing, strong enough and passionate enough to survive two days of tear gas, grenades, violence and police charges on top of the usual mud rain and cold, it would be an insult to give up now. Let’s rebuild and let’s keep going until it becomes clear enough that it’s just not worth sending the climbing team every week to destroy our cabins. This is already ridiculous. Littering the forest with over two hundred tear gas canisters, injuring at least twenty people, putting people’s lives in danger in the trees, countless concussion grenades.... just to destroy cabins we can rebuild in less than a week. We won’t be pushed out like this. This is far from over.

Pourriez-vous annoncer sur le site la manif parisienne du 8 décembre ? Merci et à très bientôt sur la ZAD et ailleurs,