Nantes, Vinci: an hourly account of the Battle for the ZAD of February 22

Here’s a translation -and reformatting- of a summary published by on the Feb. 22nd protest in Nantes

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Following the call for a protest on February 22 in Nantes, the Parisian collective agaisnt the Airport has organized a group transport from Paris. 

The State and its pro-airport are threatening to go back in force. They claim they will be starting, over the upcoming months, the destruction of protected species and the construction of the airport. A new wave of evictions may take place.

We won’t let them do this! Their operations will not start!

In the area, the movement is more alive than it was in the fall of 2012, the ties are stronger, the fields more cultivated and there are many more homes… Beyond this 200 local committees have been created, in solidarity with the struggle and to make it swarm back home.

February 21

2:50 PM :the Nantes prefecture refuses the route of the march proposed by ACIPA. They are putting pressure for it not to go downtown.

According to a close source, tomorrow entrance in the downtown area will be impossible, blocked by fences. Motive: to not allow for the merchants to be disturbed during the last days of the rebates…. We have seen better excuses…

5:50 PM : still worthy of note, according to local toilet paper Presse Océan, it will be theoretically forbidden to gather at Cours des 50 Otages, official gathering location of the parch. Quite absurd indeed…

Bureaucrats also make communiques for their attacks in France. Though not anywhere near the FAI level of literary quality…

6:17 PM : a shiny memo of the prefecture is released, seeking to intimidate all the actors of this struggle le superbe arrêté préfectoral cherchant à intimider tous les acteurs de la lutte

February 22

6h30 AM : buses departing from Paris towards Nantes have departed with trouble

8:00 AM: we hear that the march route submitted by the protesters is rejected by the Prefecture. The approved trajectory would be this one : Rue de Strasbour – Cours Estienne – Boul. Philippot – Square Daviais. In all only 800 meters, yet we’re expecting several thousands of protesters. We’re wondering if the prefecture isn’t trying to intentionally frustrate the poeple who’ll be arriving.

11 AM : Already many people present on site. The scale of the police presence is impressive. Helicopters, water cannons… For now the mood is relaxed in the area.

11:30 AM : the 800 m dedicated for the protesters is already well filled up, two hours before the protest begins. Many hundreds of people are already present and talking with the residents of the neighborhood. The number of cops is hallucinating. The whole center of Nantes is fenced.

12:00 AM : 20 tractors arrive on Bellamy.

12:15 AM : Though the protest had been called for 1 PM, already two to three thousand people are already on site.

1:15 PM : Now several hundreds of tractors are converging on Nantes. (sources are talking to the figure of 110 à 300 tractors !!!). traffic jams are reported on the peripheric expressway around Nantes.

1:20 PM : about 10 000 are already present in front of the Loire Atlantique prefecture in Nantes. Many others are still arriving.

1:30 PM : the precession takes off. le cortège s’élance. On a banner is written: « Airport = Capital: immediate stop » Many other protesters are still blocked in traffic jams.

1:35 PM : the fur buses coming from Paris have just arrived without fuss at the departure of the march against the airport

You can also read on this assured direct blow by the comrades of the ZAD here. Above picture is from their site.

There’s a few banners from political parties but their crowd stays very small compared to the « No Ayraulport » and others. Also some banners form the Basques and the NO TAV crowd.

1:55 PM : the march conitnues. Banks are being tagged « Vinci dégage » (Vinci gtfo). A lot of smoke bombs are ignited. Batucada. Good mood overall.

2:05 PM : as predicted, the trajectory approved by the prefecture is revealed to be completely insufficient. (duh!) There’s a little over a hundred tractors and protesters over Quai de Turenne. The mood is festive until this point…

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2:10 PM : banks on the way of the march keep being covered with paint. sur le parcours se font recouvrir de peinture. Des cordons de flics aussi.

Situation is getting more tense. A chopper has arrived right above the protest.

2:30 PM : Several broken windows, especially Vinci’s on 44 Strasbourg St.

Seemingly a tense face-off at Place de l’Écluse. The protesters trowd loud DIY firecrackers against the cops barrages. Cops answer with tear gases.

We remind you that you can also follow this ce direct for more infos and images.
On rappelle que vous pouvez aussi suivreour avoir d’autres infos et photos.

2:50 : we’re now finally talking about nearly 500 tractors present in the streets of Nantes.
In the meantime a machine on a Vinci construction site has been set in flames right in the center of Nantes.

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2:55 : First massive shots of tear gas by the cops on Place du Commerce (Commercial Square). A strategy has gradually taken shape: the tractors are interfering between the pigs and the protesters, who now really having some good time!

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 Some protesters have opened a fire hydrant, left their traces on the facade of a building with paint bombs before starting a fire with flares and wood platforms. A fire extinguisher throwned in the blaze has exploded. But the fences were still up when the protesters have left, taking the time to smash the CCTV cameras.

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3:05 PM : they keep gassing. The water cannons are on full spray. The cops have shot without discrimination and massively far into the march. Some protesters are folding back towards Ile de Nantes.

3:20 PM : the shots of tear gas continue, so does the batucada

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Some of them are taking refuge in the parking of Ile de la Gloriette, besides the trajectory proposed and approved by the prefecture but still near the police blockade.

3:40 : Cours Olivier de Clisson, the march is momentarily stopped. A part of the crowd has apparently decided to attack a police barrage that was keeping progression in lateral streets. The most of the march no longer advances and stands in support. The pigs are heavily spraying everyone with tear gas for a long half-hour. Some people are throwing bottles at the cops.

3:45 : confrontations at the corner Cours des 50 Otages and Cours Franklin Roosevelt

The protest no is starting to be in the news of national media who are reporting that a police station and offices of a Vinci agency have been attacked.

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4 PM : there isn’t much of a march anymore. The gases have dislocated the demonstration.  Still many people in the streets of Nantes. A barricade is being set on Bon Secours St. Further away trashbins are on fire. Small groups are fighting the cops. The chopper is still flying above above Nantes.

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4:10 PM : another machine on a construction site has been set on fire near the protest. Meanwhile, one of the barricades has also been set on fire.

4:20 PM : the cops are trying to push back the protesters from Cours Estienne d’Orves and Cours Roosevelt towards Daviais square. The situation gets confusing. Many buildings are now being targeted (Nantes City Hall, a police station, a Tourist Office)

4:40 PM : according to the Télégramme website : « Based on our observations, there was at least 6 or 7 injured on the protesters side at about 3:30 PM. » . According to the prefecture four cops are injured. At least one arrest. The cops have taken a lot of projectiles (flares, homemade firecrackers, smoke bombs, steel balls)

4:50 PM : The organizers are talking of 40 000 to 60 000 participants at today’s protest. Moveover, the confrontations are still taking place and the cops are still using flash bangs. Some large number of protesters (about 2000) are being drawned into a trap by the cops, who don’t wanna let them go.

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Many windows of banks and travel agencies are smashed. An SNCF office was attacked in support of the No TAV.

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A new barricade is raised on Kervégan St.

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5:30 PM : according to the mainstream media there’s been several tramway blocked and a technical office of the TAN (Nantes urban transportation) has been set ablaze. The protesters are now depaving the tramway so to supply themselves with projectiles and to launch them on the pigs.6:05 PM : police reinforcements are arriving by Cours des 50 Otages. Always that chopper circling above the city. Confrontations keep raging. We now are starting to hear about injured people (from flashball projectiles) The trap has been open.
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6:15 PM : confrontations are still happening at Daviais square. The cops intervene with water cannons again. A car has been turned over on Allée de l’île Gloriette. The cops are charging on that street. There is still a lot of motivated people. However many protesters have also left the center of Nantes, including those who came by bus.

6:30 : it continues. It seems like there’s been one more arrest, but difficult to verify for the moment. Presence of many pigs of the BAC (the anti-crime brigade, shock troops of the police) as well as some kind of « super-riot-cops ». The protesters yell « Non to the airport! »

6:50 PM : confrontations are moving elsewhere again. Tense face-off on Graslin Square.

7:10 PM : confrontations appear to have calmed down.

10:30 PM : the prefecture talks of 8 cops being hospitalized. Dozens of cops are reportedly « contusioned ». There’s been between 4 and 10 arrests, depending on the news sources. Still no report on the amount of injured protesters.

11:30 PM : publishes a communique of anti-airport organizers committee on the February 22 events.

Excerpt :

« The prefecture has chosen to put Nantes into a state of siege and to keep us from being visible downtown. This the first time that a protest is being restricted from going on Cours des 50 Otages avenue (a main avenue of the commercial downtown area). One part of the procession passes by île Beaulie. Another has tried to pass on the originally-traced trajectory and is confronted to a violent police repression, with shtos of flashbangs, nerve gas and concussion grenades. This didn’t stop the protestors from standing in masses in the streets of Nantes until the end.

There exists many ways to express ourselves in this movement. The government is deaf to the protesting against this airport, so it is not astonishing such an anger is expressing itself. What could happen in the case of a new intervention in the ZAD?

This day is a success and the different components of this struggle have stayed united on the field. The opposition has been only growing for the last 30 years. The government has no other choice than to abandon the airport project!

February 23rd

8 PM :

There’s at least two badly injured persons among the protesters. We can read and hear the account of Quentin, who may lose his left eye, on indymedia Nantes. His testimony shows that the cops have fired several shot at point blank with concussion grenages.


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