Escapes, revolts and solidarity… a (merry?) Christmas at the Vincennes detention centre
by – abaslescra.noblogs
In recent weeks, the detainees have shown great resilience and solidarity. After a widespread revolt on 23 December in the three buildings of the Vincennes administrative detention centre, 11 people managed to escape.
We would have loved to have seen the look on the face of the head of the Vincennes administrative detention centre when, on the morning of 25 December, just as he was about to unpack his new truncheon, his henchmen called to tell him that 11 detainees had just run off.
11 detainees from CRA 2B had managed to escape by breaking through the window of one of their cells and cutting a hole in the fence. They took advantage of the fact that the surveillance cameras were not working at this location. Well done to them!
The news quickly spread throughout the buildings (the Vincennes CRA comprises three buildings holding over 230 people in all). “Everyone is so happy to know that some of them have managed to escape, it’s such a pleasure, it gives us hope”, explains one detainee.
The day before, on the Saturday evening, the 2A and 2B detention centres were in revolt at the same time. Detainees broke windows in an attempt to escape, after setting off fire alarms, setting fire to mattresses and disconnecting the electricity in one of the buildings.
Meanwhile, at CRA 1, the detainees were demonstrating and shouting for their freedom. “As it was a mess in the 3 buildings, the cops couldn’t take it any more”, explains one detainee. “When the whole building gets together, the cops are lost. So when the 3 reception centres decide to make a mess of things at the same time…
Faced with this widespread revolt, the cops intervened en masse. As well as tear gas and flashbulbs, they turned up with dogs. Many of the detainees were jumped on and scratched by the dogs before being herded into the exercise yards while the cells were searched. This went on well into the night, but the escape attempt failed.
It was only a temporary setback. The next day, the detainees in the various buildings spread the word: it’s Christmas, there are fewer cops, now’s the time!
And that’s how, on the morning of 25 December, the 11 people were able to escape. The story could have been even better, because a few hours earlier, in CRA 1, a small team was also trying to escape. But they were caught – even though they had already passed through the CRA enclosure!
Obviously, since then there has been a major crackdown, with lots of cops everywhere. On 26 December, Police Prefect Nunez announced “human reinforcements, particularly on the outskirts of the site”, and the installation of new fences and cameras.
“The cops are too pissed off. They haven’t got a clue. They’ve failed,” laughs one of the detainees. “But now we have to watch out, because they’re playing cowboys. As soon as you talk back to them, you go into solitary confinement and get beaten up. They’ve also let the dogs loose at the bottom of the building, cut off the lights outside and brought in a new team to back them up, intervention style. But we don’t care, we’re on the lookout”.
Prior to this escape, there had been numerous attempts, including a successful one in mid-November (8 people escaped). The detainees also recently helped one of their number to go into hiding to avoid seeing the consul and thus delay his deportation. A few days ago, they wrote texts together to denounce detention and its conditions.
We wish them all the best for the future!