In the wake of the fire-bombing of the Plume Noire in Lyon we have seen a heartening response from the anti- fascists militants and especially the anarchists. The incident was followed by a wave of national and international expressions of solidarity for the FA but it was felt that the most important thing would be the demonstration on Saturday February 22nd. A large show of strength on the streets of Lyon would serve to show the fascists that they would be fought at every step and could also serve to kill the resurge of racist violence in its infancy. Thus Lyon's anarchist (FA, CNT) groups poured a lot of effort into publicising the demo and rallying support for it. However it remained to be seen to what extent the moderate leftists solidarity would crystallise into concrete action. The reaction of the socialist party organ's correspondant was ominous, refusing to displace himself to cover the attack and sneering at the fact that the FA had reported the incident to the police.
In the run-up to the demonstration the fascists attempted a number of means of intmidation. The bookshop's exterior was stickered with FN slogans anew. A spokesman who appeared on a national news program (and thus it seems taken for a 'leader') received incessant phone calls to his home, threatening the lives of his children(it is believed that his telephone number was furnished by far-right police). On a number of occasions fascists approached groups of anarchists and attempted to provoke confrontations. Furthermore the Prefect of Police of the region showed where his sympathies lay by effectively preventing any chance of detection of the perpetrators. The case was assigned to a mere two cops who were working simultaneously on 17 other cases and when they did arrive the seemed much more interested in checking the contents of all the ashtrays for butts of joints, perhaps hoping to be able to pin the blame on 'drug users'!
Thankfully the demonstration itself turned out to be a great success.
When the march departed from Place Bellecour there was already more than 2500 people present which quickly swelled to over 3000 as passers by joined in. The procession was led by a banner of unity with the words 'Chateauvaillon, Orange, Vitrolles - an Anarchist Bookshop burned, Solidarity with the Plume Noire'. Among the bearers of this banner figured three mayors: Venisseux(communist-revolutionary), Lyon 1ere (ecologiste) and Vaulx-en-Velin (communist). Among the banners present were Ras l'front, Communist revolutionary league, the Greens and various smaller left wing groups. However by far the largest presence was in the ranks of the Anarchists. The FA banner followed immediatly behind the banner of unity and led a cortege of well over 1000 people carrying scores of black flags which were complemented nicely by the red and black of the CNT leading a cortege of some 600. Thus the tone of the march was very much libertarian, the streets resounding to the chants of 'F comme Fasciste, N comme Nazi, a bas le front national'.
The route of the march was chosen for symbolic and strategic reasons.
The first target was the traditional heartland of the far right in Lyon, just to the South of Place Bellecour. The Nazis got to see 3000 militants walking right past their doorsteps. This was important for us insofar as it demonstrated the failure of their attempts to intimidate us as well as showing our willingness to confront them on their own territory. There was a fair collection of disgruntled faces lining the streets, not least the policemen outside the commisariat who received massive choruses of 'Vigipirate,(the repressive security plan)Terrorisme d'Etat'. Throughout this sector the marchers failed to respond to provocation from far-right spectators; physical confrontation with the few isolated hecklers would have given the police the excuse they needed to break up the march. After passing through the quarter the march came to a halt outside the Museum of the resistance; a particularly apt symbol in the context of our own struggle. Here the crowd sat in the sunshine while the various spokespeople read out their messages of solidarity then all rose to their feet, fists in the air, to the rendition of 'a las barricadas'. The march continued to its destination the Bourse de Travail where more speeches followed. Particularly heartening was the reactions of groups of the north African immigrant passer-bys who seemed shocked by such a large turn-out, so opposed to the normal face French society shows to its exploited and excluded underclass. The racist logic of the ruling parties and the national front have for too long been allowed to dominate the projection of French society vis-a-vis its immigrants, this march as well as the massive anti loi Debre mobilisation in Paris on the same day show that many people here are sick of allowing the far-right to set the tone of immigration and security legislation, and that the institutional socialist opposition will do nothing. Action is neccassary!
Since the mobilisation work has concentrated on getting the bookshop back on its feet again. Although it will take a few months until the bookshop can reopen properly we believe it to be very important that we keep some sort of presence alive. To this end work has concentrated on the small room at the side of the main shop which was much less damaged by the fire. Thanks to the hardwork of militants and the generous donations from other groups within the FA, national organisations as well as international we will be opening to the public today, Wed 5th April, albeit with a vastly reduced stock. But at least this will show the fascists that they can't silence our voice and we will continue to struggle for our vision of a free and equal society. The struggle against the loi Debre continues and we will continue to push ourselves to the front of this movement, calling for the abrogation of this racist piece of legislation as well as the annulment of all laws limiting freedom of movement(loi-Pasquq, Fabien's laws from 1984 etc...)
Federation Anarchiste - Lyon
La Plume Noire 19 Rue Pierre Blanc 69001 Lyon