Blog post

The Gilets Noirs are coming for the Prime Minister

The past year has seen French society rocked by the Gilets Jaunes protests. Yet, while these protests have been ongoing, the government passed new Asylum and Immigration Law and police violence against migrants has reached new heights of brutality. This translation of a statement by the Gilets Noirs, a movement spearheaded by undocumented migrants, outlines their demands.

1 July 2019

The Gilets Noirs are coming for the Prime Minister

At the end of Autumn 2018, ordinary men and women, summoned every three or four years to vote, blocked roundabouts and took over spaces from which they were normally excluded;

While the government passed a new ‘Asylum and Immigration Law’ that was even more aggressive towards migrants than the last and while levels of police violence was peaking;

We residents of foyers, tenants of the street of different nationalities, and people in solidarity — decided to no longer hide, to shout loud and clear that ‘we are not scared of death, we are scared of humiliation.’

We have put a stop to our everyday activities, we have risen up for a roof and for papers, we have established a movement—the Gilets Noirs. This movement brings together different collectives such as Droit Devant! [Rights First!] and La Chapelle Debout.

On the 23rd November 2018, 400 of us protested against detention centres—prisons for foreigners.

On the 16 December, 720 of us were in front of the Comédie Francaise to demand a meeting with the Interior Minister and to call for the right for papers for all, for dignified housing and for the freedom to move as well as settle down.

On the 31st January 2019, we obtained a meeting at the Prefecture and 1500 people went there to demonstrate and to accompany our delegation.

On the 19th May 2019, 500 people blocked and occupied Terminal 2F of the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, to call for an end to deportations and to force Air France to end its collaboration with the state.

On the 12th June 2019, we occupied the headquarters of Elior in La Défense (a business centre in Paris) to protest against the exploitation of sans-papiers by their bosses. Elior is the fourth largest provider of collective catering in the world. We demanded that Elior withrdaw its activity from detention centres and stop putting sans-papiers to work there against themselves.

Alongside Droits Devant!, during 2016 and 2017, on four separate occasions we occupied parts of the Ministry of Work (Work inspections; Director General of Work — The Delegation for Employment and Professional Training (DGEFP) and DIRECCTE) to demand the regularisation of and equal rights for all workers without papers, in particular those who are forced to work on the black market.

Since November 2018, we, the Gilets Noirs, have been in small groups or in General Assemblies, in which we speak various languages, from Soninke to Pulaar; we are organising night and day, not only to get papers, but to fight the system which produces people without papers.

Up against this mobilisation, the state and the police have stuck to their old methods of trying to discourage the movement through negotiations that lead nowhere, in which each person would be a file to study case by case, like at the check-out counter. We have now been for a long time determined, however, to no longer wait.

We will continue our fight in the coming days, months, and years.

We call on you to support us in our fight and in our future actions:

To all those who have had enough of waiting to obstruct the far right at the next election period, those who are convinced that the struggle against the coming racism is conditioned on the struggle against existent racism.

To all those who can no longer bear the sight of more than 10 000 deaths in the Mediterannean since 2014, that of people starving in the street; to those who have had enough of merely deploring this state of affairs;

To all those who believe that waiting is torture and that the application of the Dublin Regulations is a crime,

To all those who are outraged when they learn that people are comitting suicide in detention centres,

To all those who can no longer watch foreign people emprisoned and persecuted in detention centres.

To all those who know that every deportation destroys a life,

To all those who think that no human is illegal,

To all those who are against every form of exploitation of human beings,

To all those who are opposed to wars and economic pillaging

To all those who think that it is only through our struggle and through bringing together our strengths that we will be able to free ourselves of our chains and put an end to inequalities,

We call on your to sign this tribune and the support the Gilets Noirs with your actions so that they can have their meeting with the Prime Minister,

                                                                                                            Gilets Noirs

Filed under: france, gilets-jaunes