Police have used tear gas on protesters and migrants who are occupying a local school in Paris in an effort to remove them.
The Jean-Jaurès high school in Paris has been occupied by migrants for the past two weeks. Migrants from Yemen, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan have squatted in the school after is was left empty and closed in preparation for renovations. The 300 or so migrants were joined by left wing demonstrators after police had announced they would be evicting the migrants from the school Wednesday reports The Local.
The protesters, many concealing their identities with masks and black hoods, formed a human chain around the high school, which is located in the northern area of Paris, in an attempt to make the police back down. The demonstrators chanted “Everyone hates the police” and “Solidarity with refugees” when the police arrived on the scene and some threw objects at the officers. The left wing activists also made barricades of school chairs, desks and tables to prevent the police from entering the building.
Police reaction to the activists was swift, as they employed tear gas to rout the demonstrators from the school and get everyone out of the building. Emmanuel, a migrant from Ghana who resided in the school, witnessed the event and told press: “This morning the police gassed us and pushed us out of the way. At midnight we built a barrier of tables and chairs, but they moved it all out of the way.” Emmanuel was hesitant to go with the police saying: “It’s better here than being on the street. I don’t know where they want to take us.”
Among the demonstrators was Eric Coquerel — who is a member of the far-left Left Party — who criticized the police, saying they had used what he called “unjustified force” against the migrants and protesters. “This school is empty and has no purpose. These people are better off here than in the road,” he told media.
Police in Paris rarely treat migrants with kid gloves like many other countries often do. Tear gas has been employed to remove the growing number of migrants who set up makeshift camps around the city of Paris. Last month Parisian plain clothes police used tear gas on a migrant camp located underneath a bridge after a riot broke out there. The riot began after a drunken man threw an object at the migrants who retaliated with furniture and pieces of metal before police came in to stop the violence.
In the port city of Calais the police used similar methods to evacuate the infamous Jungle migrant camp which many use as a base of operations to try to sneak into the UK. French authorities have received millions from the European Union to build camps with better living conditions than the ten cities currently being used by migrants and this has been the driving factor behind the removal of migrants from the makeshift camps along with preparations for the Football Euro 2016.
Many in the French police forces are worried that if the migrant camps remain that police may not be able to handle both the security for the Euro 2016 tournament this summer and handle the migrant problem at the same time as they are already stretched so thin.