Log-book: February 2006
At the restaurant The indecency of the " Dakar Rally" Convicted Occupation of a building
At the restaurant
I was invited at the restaurant by a German woman friend. We were seated. In the dining room I noticed a round table with two young couples and a man of a certain age. During the meal and on several occasions, they stood up to take pictures. With no doubt, it was a family celebration. Everything was simple with no exuberance and no laughter to draw attention.
I left the restaurant after the meal. But as soon as I got outside, a young woman joined me. I recognized her: she was at the round table. Her request came from the heart: ' Would you accept to be photographed with my father?
He would be so happy and so he would we. My father has Alzheimer. It is his anniversary today. He came out of the old people's home for this occasion. "
Without any hesitation I went back in the restaurant to be photographed next to the man suffering from Alzheimer. The man seemed a little lost but he looked happy and his eyes were filled with joy. We held each other by the arm.
This father who was celebrating his birthday was very happy to be surrounded by his family, to be loved by them.
Suddenly, there was silence. No words were exchanged any more. A silence that left everyone being present to the others.
In this inn of Emmaus, we discovered the importance of the sign given to us: that of shared love.
The indecency of the " Dakar Rally"
- During a press conference some twenty years ago, Abbé Pierre and myself had denounced the Paris-Dakar Rally as an insult. An insult to the people of African countries.
This competitive sport for the rich runs through countries stricken by misery, AIDS and excessive debt.
An Australian biker was killed on the tracks in the Mauritanian desert. Two young African children also were killed under the wheels of vehicles going through their villages at high speeds.
The singer Renaud denounced this murderous race in a biting fashion: " 100 idiots on the starting line ". Let us hope his song be heard!
The " Dakar " has large media coverage. When I see on the television news the free movement of the race pilots on the African tracks, I cannot help but think about all these young Africans in our European countries that are condemned to working clandestinely or to being expulsed.
There is also the waste of our natural resources. What a waste! We dare today to talk about their decrease but this calls for another kind of behaviour. That of a radical change of society. A society where there would be " less goods and more ties ". Putting an end to the " Dakar " would be a sign.
A great number of us were waiting in the Courtroom to hear the sentence concerning Assane, a teacher and a delegate to the national coordination for people with no documents. Young people appear before the presiding judge when they are called. All are condemned. When Assane's turn came, we held our breath.
He was also condemned: one month of prison with a deferred sentence and a fine of 590 euros. It is a hard blow. A great disappointment.
He was found guilty of insulting three police officers in a police station.
Assane had gone to the police station to have news about a man with no documents who had been arrested
He had always denied having insulted the police officers. But what is his word worth against that of police officers? The Police officers did not even appear in court. Assane went to a solicitor to complain of having been beaten at the Police station. A physician had prescribed Assane a five days leave from work.
We found consolation in a coffee shop close to the court. " I did not expect such a tough sentence " said Assane. He will make an appeal.
Occupation of a building
Families in inadequate housing or threatened with expulsion have come to the center of Paris to occupy the old head office of the newspaper " Le Monde " that will become the headquarters of OPAC (Public Office for Housing).
The building has been empty for months. On this Sunday afternoon, the streets of the neighbourhood are calm. But the arrival in great numbers of demonstrators has brought some atmosphere. Most of them go in the building, others occupy the street, holding up banners and giving handouts to explain the reasons for the demonstration. As for the musicians and drummers, they are already playing
It is at that moment that the police cars appear. Police officers, clubs in hand, run towards the demonstrators and hurry into the building. But not every one had the chance to go in. A young drummer is roughed up and his drum is confiscated. Those that are inside cannot go out and those that are outside are unable to go in.
Time flies. I am inside. My feet are cold but my heart is warm.
After many hours, the police officers go back to their cars. They have received order to leave the area.
Those that were in the street demonstrate their joy, wave the policemen goodbye and sing all together: ' May all old feelings be forgot "
Negotiations then start. There are 200 demands for emergency housing.
We win our case. The families will have housing during the year.