For years, I’ve passed this building around the corner from me on Boulevard Charonne and wondered why it hadn’t yet been squatted. It’s a huge abandoned space that could definitely be put to better use.
Well, looks like I wasn’t the only one thinking along those lines.
Though actually, it was the huge abandoned building next door to it that became the site of the scene. (I guess the former post office building just intrigued me more).
On Saturday, 100 people from the group CIP-IDF (Coordination des Intermittents et Precaires – Ile-de-France) took over the building located at 63-65 Boulevard Charonne and were forcibly taken out by police. This group was apparently evicted from another space in the 19th and has been petitioning the Mairie de 11eme for awhile now to move into this one. No response.
I walked by the building just as things were starting. I saw about 20 policemen already on the street and many more police vans driving up, one after the other, rapid-fire.But I couldn’t see why yet – there were no protesters visible. Needless to say, I wanted to know what this was about, but I was running late for an appointment.
That night at a party I ran into someone who had been trapped in the bar across the street (what are the chances?) and he said things got pretty heated.
The main sign read: “We need space to exist in the world.”
Whether people should occupy spaces to which they have no legal right is of course debatable and probably depends on your political leanings. But one thing is for sure: in a city this expensive it’s natural to look at abandoned buildings like these and think there must be a better use for them than simply to sit there idle. This group went beyond thinking and went into action mode. I wonder what happens next…
Here’s a brief video clip of what went down in the ‘hood (after a 15-second ad):