“We are defending our building”, residents have defeated the smuggler network

Camping chairs have been appearing for several days under the steps of the H Cité des Campanules building, in the 11th arrondissement of Marseille. Helping hand opens the entrance hall door. But, among them, there are no carefully weighed headscarves and bags full of pockets. “We sell coffee, chocolate and cakes,” Fatima almost laughed, if not for her eighth day “camping” at the entrance of her building to prevent drug dealers from settling there. “They offer death, we offer life,” continued the man who from noon until two in the morning occupied the land with dozens of other residents.

Because for the past week, the resident of the rather quiet HLM complex in the south of Marseille has resisted attempts to set up a drug sales network. “They arrived in the afternoon of the 31st [décembre] recalls Suzanne, who has lived here since 1997. So we would not let her go and allow merchants to set up shop like that. That same night, Fatima and Océane, quickly joined by their neighbors, decided to go on a vigil. Several glances were exchanged with the dealers, pushed back into the dark corners of the city.

Since then, forms of solidarity have been created and the stairs have been filled with supporters. “It helps to endure,” explained Fatima, a look of interest on her face. The collective in charge of organizing the demonstration on Sunday, gathering nearly 200 people, under the slogan “don’t touch my city”. “We are defending our building. Luckily the police didn’t let us down,” said Fanny, a neighbor who has lived here since the mid-1990s. This Monday afternoon, routine police patrols were conducted. Two screen printing cars, plus a crew in plainclothes criss-cross the alleys between the ten residences in this soon-to-fifty-year-old town, which has seen extensive renovation work done there over the last three years.

According to police headquarters, four arrests for trafficking have been made in recent days in the neighborhood. The dealer would come from the neighboring town of Air-Bel, where the narcotics trade was well established there. Embarrassed by the ongoing rehabilitation work “at home”, they would set their sights on the Campanules. “I told them it was stupid to open a network here,” said a young apprentice mechanic. He divides his time between his mother’s accommodation, in Tower H, and his father’s, who lives in Air-Bel. “They think that Campanules are crap and they will install their network easily. But only parents here. Certainly. »

” We won “

Facing the mobilization of citizens and public authorities, Erilia, the social owner decided to hire eight security guards who are present 24 hours a day. They will stay “as long as necessary”. This announcement made by the deputy director general of the HLM office, who appeared in person this Monday, at 5pm, at the city reservation center, to detail his “action plan” in front of more than 150 people. A piece of news greeted with “bravos” and “we win” from residents who hugged each other. The excitement was soon followed by fanfare at the announcement of work to get the barriers from the two entrances to the city operational. “We want the gate”, “must be closed”. “If there was a dealer, there was a nanny, would you kick him out? “Despised, several residents admitted to being “suspicious” of certain residents.

Just before 6 pm, when everyone was preparing to return to their homes or the halls of building H, Fatima, who, together with Océane, led the movement, received warm congratulations. “All I did was sit with a can of coke.” But tomorrow, Fatima will not sit down. Tomorrow he will sleep. “Until noon at least!” “. And Wednesday there will be an extraordinary district security council that brings together representatives of the population, the police headquarters and the sectoral town hall.

As night fell on the town, about fifteen residents remained under the harsh light of the lights on the verandah of building H for their last vigil. An alert that, tonight at least, had the taste of an unprecedented collective action victory in Marseille. “Imagine if all cities were like us”, thought Fatima. “Well, there are still little things, but that would be great! “.

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