Police clash with immigration protesters in Calais
Protesters calling for thousands of illegal migrants to be allowed into Britain from France have again clashed with riot police in Calais.
By Peter Allen in Paris
Published: 3:49PM BST 27 Jun 2009
The brawls followed threats by a group calling itself No Borders to “tear down the borders” to England. The 2,000 demonstrators were met by a similar number of French riot squad officers, who deployed tear gas in efforts to disperse troublemakers.
Last month Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, said Britain's “lax asylum system and benefits culture” had imposed thousands of illegal migrants on the port town. A tense atmosphere has gripped the town all week, with a spotter helicopter circling overhead, roads blocked, and mobile police patrols circulating constantly. “Protestors have turned up looking for trouble,” said a police spokesman.
Chris Morgan, 31, who was among British activists in the demonstration, said: “There should be nothing preventing immigrants traveling from one country to the other. The borders between the UK and France should not exist, and we're fighting to get rid of them.”
A tense atmosphere has gripped the town all week, with a spotter helicopter circling overhead, roads blocked, and mobile police patrols circulating constantly.
As protesters picched tents and marquees on an official camp site to the east of Calais, some of the 2,000 odd migrants sleeping rough in the Calais area joined them.
This prompted the local authorities to obtain an official order preventing anyone buying or possessing anything which might be used as a weapon – including substances which could start fires or be used to make Molotov cocktails.
They said they had received email threats by protesters pledging to destroy wire fences and other security measures around the Channel Tunnel.
There were also threats to burn “symbols of capitalism” including local government offices, and hotels run by prominent global chains.
Local prefect Pierre de Bosquet said: “We received intelligence about widespread violence and could take no chances.” Last month Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, said the UK's lax asylum system and benefits culture had “imposed” thousands of illegal migrants on her town.
In a blistering attack in which she also called for millions in compensation, Mrs Bouchart said the UK was entirely to blame for the those who use the port as a staging point.
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