Occupation of a youth prison building site


Since Monday morning, February 20th 2006, a few dozen people occupy the building site for a youth prison (called EPM in french, standing for Établissement Pénitentiaire pour Mineurs) in Orvault, in the suburbs of Nantes, France.

Part of the activists are occupying trees, in which they have set up four tree-houses. Meanwhile, others gather on the ground in solidarity. By this action, activists intend to prevent the construction of this new prison, since occupied trees are to be cut for the building work to start.

Last October 20th, a first demonstration against the "EPM" had taken place (see report [fr]), during which some 200 participants had already invaded the building site, putting up banners on the highway and pulling out topographic piquets, to slow down the construction process.


  • 2006-02-22: in solidarity with the tree sitting action, a crane belonging to Bouygues (biggest builder of prisons and detention centres in France) has been occupied in Nantes, and then evicted by the GIPN (antiterrorist police). All participants to the action were arrested by the police. While those who were on-ground were released after an hour at the station and an ID check, those who were in the crane have been kept in custody for 9 hours and charged with "physical obstruction of a public building work".
  • 2006-02-21: lots of police have arrived, and have successfully pushed away the group people gathering on the ground, all of which managed to leave without being identified. Those who are occupying trees are still there.
  • 2006-02-20: police & media were on site. Police called in re-inforcements, but didn't make a move, and finally left. Camp construction went on, in spite of persistant rain and cold throughout the first half of the day.

Direct support is very welcome (see map)!

Following is the flyer explaining about the action...

Links: photos - Nantes Indymedia (latest news) - Call/petition against EPM [fr] - Support graffitis in Barcelona [1|2] - L'Envolée, journal against prisons [fr] - "Prisons, justice, répression" theme on [fr]

Nantes (France): Why are we occupying the construction site of a prison?

A group of several dozen people is currently occupying the trees which are on the future site of the E.P.M. (a prison for minors) d'Orvault, near to the city of Nantes (France), in an attempt to stop the construction. We want to show our opposition in a determined manner to the state and economic violence which is destroying our lives: imprisonment, misery, ghettoisation, the politics of "security", racism, wage labour...

February 20th, 2006

A group of several dozen people is currently occupying the trees which are on the future site of the E.P.M. (a prison for minors) d'Orvault, near to the city of Nantes (France), in an attempt to stop the construction. We want to show our opposition in a determined manner to the state and economic violence which is destroying our lives: imprisonment, misery, ghettoisation, the politics of "security", racism, wage labour...

From prisons for minors to zero-tolerance politics

The French government is planning the construction of 7 prisons for minors of 13 to 18 years old between now and end of the year. This would mean 420 new prison places which would be in addition to the 850 that already exist in the youth wings of regular prisons.The other planned youth prisons in France will be located close to Valenciennes, Meaux, Lyon, Mantes-la-Jolie, Toulouse and Marseille.

Several other measures indicate the general reinforcement of security culture:

  • an increase in incarceration: +45% between 1990 and 2002 for minors and 1320 new places for adults.
  • The creation of "immediate placement centres" and "reenforced centres of education" to be followed by "closed centres of education". These centres are based on increasingly stricter discipline to the detriment of educational practice (given that education can also mean the normalisation of individuals - making them fit in).
  • Changes to the role of the social services which become more like the police, for example: the obligation on youthworkers to pass on files to the police, pressure on familiessuch as the suspension of benefits and criminal responsability for the parents of "delinquents".
  • The development of new technologies to create further tools of control: video-surveillence(even in schools), biometrics, electronic tagging, DNA databases, etc. Everything necessary for a permanent state of control.
  • The creation of new crimes, for example the penalisation of everyday acts such as gathering around the stairways of buildings, not paying for public transport and even the putting in place of curfews.
  • A stronger and more agressive police presence, especially with the "anti-criminality brigades", with their new hi-tech weapons, street controls based on how you look, constant harrassment, violent abuse and "accidents" concealed or covered up by the establishement.

The subject of deviance and how to deal with it should be brought into question. The state puts the responsibility on individuals and punishes them. But it is the social, interpersonal and economic relations which create a person, and it is these conditions which we want to question. How can we think about solving problems by imprisoning, destroying or torturing certain individuals? This is a circular logic which perpetuates violence and feeds its growth. Prisons systemise punishment, they exist to create fear and preserve the existing order. It is a torture which, despite all the talk about reform and modernisation, remains essentially degrading and humiliating.

It is necessary to change social and economic conditions and the way people relate to each other instead of punishing individuals. Not to talk about conforming to existing norms, but about changing society. Where domination reigns, we prefer to construct other types of relations between individuals, for example to attack the submission and violence that result from the patriarchal system, and fight against homophobia and sexism.

The logic of capital creates a popular image of "being sucessful": the possession of material goods is the necessary condition to enter into the category of "someone worthwhile". This logic transforms into delinquents those who cannot participate in such consumerism.

That which falls under the concept of delinquence can be sometimes a way of surviving (the inevitable parallel economies which are methods of dealing with injustice and poverty: dealing, shoplifting, robberies...). Sometimes they can be violent acts against other persons (fights, mugging, rapes) which clearly cause suffering, but they can't be stopped by psycholgically destroying the "guilty", not while society is structured along lines of competition, authoritarianism and machismo.

"Delinquency" is often just the manifestation of anger and opposition to the established order. Many convictions are the direct result of police violence and harrassment, as reactions of self-defence or protection become turned around by the courts into actions of "outrage and rebelllion".

For example, the riots of last october-november were significant about poverty, racism, State control and humiliation in the french suburbs... We should support every rioter instead of judging them, like the State-Republic does...

In many towns, collectives have been formed to oppose the construction and very existance of prisons. In Nantes, around the question of minors, there already exists a collective against the EPM which has organised information campaigns and a demonstration to the site. To complement this, it seems necessary to us to use direct action in our struggles against incarceration. To squat the future work site is a concrete action to hinder the start of work. Occupying the trees means putting ourselves in the way of the machines and forces the State into a costly eviction process. With these offensive types of action, we want to make a show of force against the State.

So come and support or participate in this action, discuss, pick up some information (texts, newspapers, posters). Just come to the site!


add a comment on this article

This is excellent news!

King Amdo 22.Feb.2006 19:07

I definiely agree that prions and police stations should be sabbed if possible during construction.

Historical context?

Logical Dash 22.Feb.2006 21:50

This article makes it sound as though this is part of an anti-police-state movement that's been going on in France for a long time. I want to know more about this. Does anyone have some links to more on the movement for a person who's never seriously read anything about France?

I support

Frederick Anthony 24.Feb.2006 13:21

This is really awsome news and i fully support all of those protesters, kudos to you! and keep up the great work!