The event attended by ten’s of thousands of French citizens against the airport Notre-Dame-des-Landes escalated Saturday afternoon in the city center of Nantes when Police blockaded the progression of the march and attacked with charges to the people protesting. Many citizens were wounded by tear gas and rubber bullets. Participants responded with fired projectiles – bottles, cans, steel balls, flares – towards the police who charged repeatedly.
About 20,000 people demonstrated in the city center of Nantes to protest against the construction of the new airport of Our Lady of Landes. Des violent clashes took place at the end of the event between violent groups and CRS. (Franck Dubray)
‘This is tens of thousands,’ assured Julien Durand, spokesman for the ACIPA, the main opposition group to the airport project, while refusing to give a precise figure.
According to him, the participation is equivalent to the previous rallies, such as in November 2012 which according to the organizers had expected 40,000 people (13,000 according to police).
In the late afternoon, the city center of Nantes showed scenes of devastation. People took out frustration from being ignored for years and beaten down when they speak out by ransacking a police station, an agency of Vinci (dealer airport project) group, but also broke several storefronts, any agency of Nantes transport or agency Nouvelles Frontières. At least two construction equipment vehicles and a barricade were also burned.
Objects were thrown at the SNCF catenary to block the movement of trains one source said. As for police, they made use of a large amount of tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons.
Protesters moved away blinded by tear gas while several hundred others continued to face the police, referring new projectiles bottles, or even own grenades forces.
‘No matter what tell the prefecture, for all of you it is a great success,’ provided at the end of the event Julien Durand.
‘An unnecessary and expensive project’
The demonstration had started in a friendly atmosphere. ‘No thank you Ayraultport’, ‘No to Ayrault pork‘, ‘Ayrault also emerges Vinci’, ‘Ni or airport metropolis, the city is ours’ we heard in the procession.
‘The mobilization is great here. We are here to show our determination to abandon this useless and expensive at this time of shortage project,’ said AFP Eva Joly MEP EELV.
Given the anti-capitalist component of the event and clashes that have marked previous events, the prefecture on Friday adopted a modification of the route so that it avoids the downtown core.
The event is organized two months after the publication of prefectural ordinances authorizing the start of pre-construction of the airport. Appeals were filed against these orders but do not have suspensive effect.However, work has still not started.
The inauguration of the future Grand Ouest Airport, originally scheduled for 2017, is now considered only ‘2019 or 2020’ by supporters of the transfer. According to an Ifop poll published Saturday, a majority of French (56%) are opposed to the future airport, 24% being positive and 20% were undecided.
This survey was conducted on behalf of Acting for the environment, Attac and ACIPA, the leading association of opponents to the project. The project of public utility in 2008, is justified by its supporters, PS as the UMP, including the risk of saturation of the current airport Nantes Atlantique.