Police Arrest Far-Right Activists as Protesters Block Bridges with Burning Tyres to Stop Refugees Entering Calais
Lizzie Dearden, Independent, March 12, 2016
Far-right activists have blocked bridges leading from refugee camps in Calais to the city centre while claiming to defend Europe against a “migrant invasion”.
Protesters from the Generation Identitaire group burned tyres and clashed with police after setting up barricades emblazoned with their logo and the slogans “go home” and “no way”.
Police arrested 14 members of the group and seized one of their vehicles while dispersing the demonstration on Saturday morning.
Footage showed activists shouting anti-immigration chants as they were surrounded by riot officers with shields and batons little over an hour into the blockade.
A spokesperson for the local prefecture said the crackdown showed the government’s “determination not to let extremist movements manipulate the migrant crisis”.
Generation Identitaire claimed 130 people joined the protest and blocked three bridges, while officials put numbers at 80 and said only two were barricaded.
The group said it was aiming to prevent refugees entering the town centre, hailing the “martyrdom” of Calais.
“Once again, the socialist regime has chosen illegal immigrants over the defenders of Calais,” a statement said.
“The socialist regime, like the illegitimate ‘European’ commissioners, must understand that the people will not stand for it anymore and that as long as they will refuse to re-establish the borders–both national and European–they will erect barricades.
“The only worthwhile ‘relocation’ of migrants is back to their country of origin.
“This is our home: Calais for the Calaisiens, Europe for the Europeans!”
Generation Identitaire, formed in 2012 as the youth wing of the far-right Bloc Identitaire, claims to fight “the standardisation of peoples and culture and a tidal wave of mass immigration”.
Previous events have seen members protest against immigration, the “Islamisation of France” and occupy mosques.
Calais has been the site of numerous demonstrations against the existence of “the Jungle” camp and attempts by refugees to board ferries and lorries entering the Channel Tunnel.
Authorities have been destroying hundreds of asylum seekers’ tents and shelters in recent weeks after pledging to relocate thousands of migrants to accommodation around the country.
But refugee charities said the crackdown was mostly pushing refugees into another part of Calais or seeing them leave to set up camp somewhere else, while continuing efforts to reach the UK.