Molotov cocktails and stun grenades flew through clouds of tear gas as 2,500 officers moved in to evict the illegal occupants of the ZAD anarchist commune in western France. Ruptly crew were caught up in the action, and tear gas.
RT’s Charlotte Dubenskij, reporting from the thick of the action, said at times it felt like the “sky was raining tear gas.” She said that her colleagues from Ruptly video agency were caught in clouds of the gas.
Law enforcement officials were mobilized for evictions in an area known as the ZAD. Up to several hundred activists have occupied the 1,650-hectare site, once reserved for a proposed airport near the western city of Nantes, calling it their "Zone a Defendre" (Zone to be Defended).
Police blocked off access to the local main road at 3.30am on Monday, ahead of the operation's 6.00am start. They "conducted a law enforcement mission overnight on departmental route 281, where the illegal occupants had set up barricades and had set fire to them," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
"These expulsions are illegal," one protester, known as Camille, told AFP. "It is unacceptable that the state is driving people out of their homes. We call on everyone to resist and support us, and to join local [protest] gatherings. We were in the framework of peaceful negotiation with the prefecture in search for collective solutions."