“Stop A69!” »: the environmental activist Greta Thunberg came on Saturday to lend her support to opponents of the Toulouse-Castres motorway project, during a mobilization which was intended to be festive but was overshadowed by clashes between Zadists and the police.
“We are here in solidarity with those who resist this project and this madness,” declared the young Swedish activist, arriving in the rain in Saïx, a few kilometers west of Castres (south of France), with a delegation of French and international activists coming in particular from Belgium, Sweden and Spain.
“This must stop”
Wearing a fuchsia raincoat, a gray hood and a Palestinian keffiyeh around her neck, she denounced a project which “not only will destroy nature and invaluable lands, but will also lock us into a toxic system based on exploitation, extraction and pollution “.
“This must stop,” she added, speaking in English, before saying in French: “Stop A69!” “. She indicated that she would be in the Bordeaux region on Sunday to support opponents of an oil exploitation project.
Greta Thunberg came to Saïx to participate in a “cabanade”, a weekend of workshops, round tables and concerts organized in a hangar on private land.
Massive use of tear gas
At the same time, about 300 to 400 meters away, around fifty police officers faced for hours activists occupying a “ZAD” (zone to be defended) made up in particular of cabins built in trees on the route of the future highway, to try to prevent the construction site from continuing.
The police, confined on a road, made massive use of tear gas but were unable to penetrate the ZAD, located on private land beyond a field and a path. of iron.
The activists took refuge there, then came out, throwing tear gas canisters back at the police and other projectiles using tennis rackets.
“A hundred individuals are blocking the railway between Toulouse and Castres and they have put obstacles on it. The individuals had set up three barricades and set one on fire, the gendarmes managed to reopen the municipal road which had been blocked,” the prefecture indicated in a message.
Greta Thunberg and the other members of the delegations remained in the hangar to listen to speeches and interact with the activists.
On Friday, the prefect of Tarn announced that he had “issued an order prohibiting demonstrations and gatherings” on Saturday and Sunday in Saïx, citing “risks of major disturbances to public order”.
“Gathering on private property, with the agreement of the owner, is not prohibited,” the prefecture services clarified on Saturday.
The French government is determined to complete this section of motorway “to completion”, which would reduce the Castres-Toulouse journey by around twenty minutes and must be put into service in 2025. “Dear Greta Thunberg (…) the A69 motorway meets a vital need for Tarn and its inhabitants,” declared the president of the Tarn departmental council, Christophe Ramond, on Friday.