carnet de route
Justice and freedom for Mumia  
Gatherings for hope  
A squat in Bordeaux  
March of protest  
Justice and freedom for Mumia  
Mumia Abu-Jamal Mumia ABU-JAMAL has just turned 55 years old, of which 27 years, almost half of his life, has been passed in the infernal death row! 27 years in claiming his innocence, 27 years of demanding a new trial, 27 years of writing (5 books) to denounce the inhumanity of life in prison. He is today one of the emblematic figure for the fight for the universal abolition of the death penalty.
Mumia, a black American journalist, was arrested in 1981 while trying to help his brother who had been assaulted by the police. He was accused of the death of a policeman and sentenced to the death penalty in 1982 at the end of a rigged trial. Mumia is paying his combat very dearly.
He only owes his life to international mobilization. Twice, in 1995 and 1999, he was sentenced to be executed but the powerful protest prevented to go beyond the point of no return.
The Supreme Court of the United States has refused to give a favorable response to the demand of Mumia's defense asking for a new trial. Thus, the highest American jurisdiction has definitely ratified the denial of justice of which he is a victim.
I participated to the weekly gathering at 6 p.m. at place de la Concorde, in front of the American Consulate. The national collective in support to Mumia as usual is faithfully there. They asked me to speak. I evoked a memory: « Ten years ago, with a great many of you, we went in delegation to Philadelphia to ask for a new trial and the abolition of the death sentence. The demonstration was impressive. »
The combat continues. A petition is sent to President Obama: « Yes we can ». Has not the hour come for his country to turn the page on the death penalty as invited by a resolution from United Nations demanding a universal moratorium?
contre la peine de mort
haute en page  
Gatherings for hope  
At first, there was this gathering of the first of May that seemed exceptional to me: all the trade unions marched arm in arm together. The first of May where the trade unions were united and showed solidarity. Never seen before. The crowd was so dense that I was not able to find the workers with no official documents with their association. All around me, there were families, groups of young people, people demonstrating for the first time. I felt good in the middle of this crowd, in a good-natured atmosphere, under a spring sun.  
marche du 1er mai For this beginning of the three-day long weekend, how is it possible that a demonstration of this size can be held? Is it not the sign of a profound social unrest?
The day following on May 2nd, I participated in the gathering of the Young Christian Workers (YCW or JOC in French) in the Courneuve Park near Paris. Circa 20,000 young people from all over France made this day a popular and convivial celebration. A success. All these meetings! During the afternoon, I was asked to speak in the debate on: « Faith and commitment ».
At the YCW, the young people are formed to the real life, a hard life. A marvellous pedagogy that will mark them forever. The Gospel gets a response in their hearts. When the aspirations and questions of the young people of the society are answered, a road for the future is open in front of us.
That such a gathering can be possible today is a sign of hope.
rassemblement d'espoir
haute en page  
A squat in Bordeaux  
Some homeless persons, tired of going from one shelter to another, and sometimes forced to sleep out of doors, decided to take their fate in their hands: they occupied an old garage with an attached house, in a district of the old city of Bordeaux.  
les locaux vides The premises have been empty for many years and abandoned. Over the months, the premises were rehabilitated and a workshop for work was created. Three associations of homeless took part in this adventure.
The Urban Community of Bordeaux (UCB) owns the premises. The chairman does not want to negotiate with the homeless. He demanded their expulsion and a trial was held.
The homeless defended themselves. They invited me to come to Bordeaux for the inauguration of the local before the trial; it was a day of celebration and defiance to the authorities. Many came to visit the premises and gave their support: « it is after all unfortunate to leave theses premises unoccupied. They are right to come here. »
It was in fact a scandal to see the premises left empty for many years at the heart of the city, while human beings were forced to sleep out of doors. Who is outlaw? The homeless or the owners? How is it that the authorities prefer repression to negotiation?
obligé de dormir dehors
The regional medias covered the event with interest. Talking to the medias, I asked insistently to the chairman of the UCB to start the negotiations. After the press conference, an aperitif was followed by a couscous. The homeless were very happy with the organization of the day. They did not feel alone.
Every day, they look for a sign of change on the part of the authorities. This sign came: it was now possible to negotiate with the UCB. The homeless already think about celebrating!
haute en page  
March of protest  
Bahija is Moroccan and responsible for a group of activists helping homeless people in Paris. For many years, I have admired her engagement and her determination. Everybody has respect for her.
When Bahidja asks me for helping an action, I do everything I can to participate. This time, she invited me to the Joinville-le-Pont railway station, on a Saturday afternoon. It is in fact a march of protest against the detention centers where homeless people are waiting to be expelled to their own country are stacked.
Around two hundred young people are at the meeting. The hood that hides their faces protects them from the rain. An impressive police force is deployed on all sides.
homage à Baba Traore First, we walked down the street towards the river. Just a year ago, a young Malian: Baba Traore, pursued by the police had jumped in the river and drowned. We observed a minute of silence where the tragedy occurred, while above us, a helicopter had undertaken to make noise. The helicopter kept an eye on us all afternoon.
Under the rain, we returned on our route. A long road that will lead us to the Vincennes detention center where riots had taken place last year: a homeless person had been found dead. A strong reaction followed among the prisoners. A fire was started in the Center. The homeless persons were transferred and some were accused. Today the Centre has been reconstructed. For the police, it is a sensitive place.
On the way, I spoke with Mériadec, a rebellious militant. When he has problems with the police, he always gives my name as a reference, my address and telephone number.
We arrived in front of the detention centre. The police, the helicopter and the rain did not leave us. Without discouraging themselves, the young people asked for the end of the expulsions and the closing of the detention centers.
marche de protestation
A few days after, the police called me to tell me that Mériadec had been arrested, they gave me the location where he was held and also the date of the trial. Then after, Mériadec was imprisoned in the Fleury-Mérogis detention centre. The authorities advised me and gave me his prison cell number so that I can write to him or visit him. His wife talked to me a long time over the phone. She was comforted to learn that I would be present at the trial.