“Pick Them Up and Take Them Away,” says CRS Brigadier-Chief in Calais

With up to 800 refugees living rough in Calais, Jessy Casatane speaks of his “ideal” solution.

(Article originally posted on “The Digital Warehouse” – February 8 2018)

Jessy Castane, Brigadier-Chief and Unsa Police delegate talks of his daily life CRS stationed in Calais. PHOTO: Nord-Littoral

There are still between 600–800 living in inhumane conditions on the streets of Calais, supported by aid organisations filling the gap left by the French authorities.

On 7 February, Jessy Casatane, CRS Brigadier-Chief, talked to Nord Littoralabout the rampant homelessness and lack of basic rights for displaced persons in Calais.

He begins the interview lamenting the closure of the Sangatte camp, a more simple time for Casatane, due to the fact that the refugee population were fenced in. He later notes that his ideal resolution to the would be to “pick them up and take them away,” and through the interview continues to give credence to the ridiculous narrative that humanitarian aid organisations are supplying weapons to the refugee community.

Discussing the “confiscation” of people’s property and only form of regular shelter that occurred on the 25 January, Casatane focuses on the suffering of the CRS. “They come and insult us and throw stones at us,” he says. This referring to an operation that led to 16 year old child losing his eye and suffering short term memory loss after a police officer shot him in the face with a rubber bullet. Casatane infers that the violence imposed upon the community was self-imposed and that due to the actions of the displaced population “they had no choice.”

Rubber bullet casing 08/02/18 PHOTO: Rowan Farrell

The continued dehumanisation of the displaced population of Calais by individuals in positions of power only helps to exacerbate relations between the State and people in need. These actions and rhetoric can only encourage the push factor witnessed by relief workers on the ground, causing desperate people to take illegal avenues provided to them by smugglings gangs operating in the area.

“Today, there are weapons. They are brought by smugglers. But the most dangerous are No Borders.”

Casatane attributes the distribution of firearms to “smugglers or No Borders,” the latter group he considers worse than illegal people smuggling gangs operating in the area. Casatane obviously finds it easier to shift his frustrations from violent, exploitative and illegal criminal gangs on to autonomous activists. The further danger from his focus on No Borders is the continued misrepresentation of aid organisations.

Authorities are insistent on blurring the lines between the two: political activism by networks such as No Borders and the efforts of relief associations distributing food, material aid and providing legal information. By referring to the aid organisations in the same stream of consciousness as political activists and smuggling gangs, those in charge are attempting to homogenise all of their opposition, whether legitimate or illegal. This makes it easier for each individual actor to justify their complicity in the total failure to handle this ongoing crisis in any way at all.

Aid organisations are working to provide services the French state are failing to offer. This includes the basic provision of shelter, clothing and food. The lack of appropriate access to legal information and asylum processing is also down to failures of the French state; not forgetting their British counterparts’ total negligence and preferred ignorance of the situation. Due to the existence of these failures, it is surely entirely understandable that large congregations of desperate, vulnerable people are taking illegal action in search of a better life.

Sleeping rough in Calais PHOTO: Rowan Farrell

This strategy of blaming anyone attempting to uphold liberté, égalité, and fraternité, the national motto of the Republic, most likely stems from the Bouchart establishment pushing a certain narrative in order to move the focus away from the failings of the local authorities. They much prefer to focus on fake news imagery of outsiders attempting to dismantle French culture itself.

Discussing the violent clashes that led to 22 people injured, 4 people critically wounded, he admitted that by the time the CRS arrived at Rue des Verrotières “it had finished”.

Writing on Calais Voice of Refugees, a blog written by refugees living on the streets in Calais, the author asks:

“We’d like to ask to the police if this violent [sic] had a purpose. Cause those people walked over 1h30 minutes to arrive at the jungle? Why didn’t [you] stop them?”

Whilst Casatane maintains that, “if during the last fight we had not intervened, you could multiply the number of victims by four or five,” he also goes on to say when questioned on how much they actually do:

“Not all those who are questioned are brought to the police station, they are let go though they have committed an offence.”

This lack of effective action echoes the sentiments shared by his colleague in ebdo in late January. “Police forces are worn out.” says Casatane, once again referring to the lack of support and direction provided to them, previously detailed by La Voix du Nord.

“We are there to protect both migrants and Calaisiens,” Casatane rightly points out.

Though when said police force has dehumanised one demographic of the two they purport to protect, to the point that they ignore causing irreversible damage to a child and have no justification for an appalling response time which led to the escalation of violence that left 22 people in hospital — how can we place our trust in this establishment?

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