Some of their activists were fined on 1er May, for non-compliance with confinement rules, while they were distributing food in Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis). Bringing together committed people from anti-fascism, autonomy but also the undocumented from the collective of “black vests”, the popular solidarity brigades define themselves as “A network of self-help mutual aid groups acting for self-defense for the people by the people, formed during the pandemic” due to coronavirus. On the site Acta (close to the Action antifasciste Paris-banlieue), we can read: “What the state can do is at most manage the disaster. We must learn to rely on our own strength. “
Concretely, these activists distribute masks (104,203 masks distributed, according to the brigades) to the precarious and most exposed: hospitals, delivery men, garbage collectors, cashiers. They manufacture and offer hydroalcoholic gel, prepare and give meals (more than 11,000, still according to their figures, and 12,000 food parcels). The popular solidarity brigades claim 750 members in Ile-de-France, where they are organized by district.
Thus, the “brigadists” intervene in the north, the northeast and the south of the region, with Paris as the epicenter. We can create a group via their site. The Facebook pages and the Twitter account serve as relays for publicizing their actions.
Collaboration between antifascists and undocumented migrants
The brigades also go to the homes of immigrant workers. “We work with forty-three households, explains Bakary, member of this collective made famous by his occupation of the Pantheon, in July 2019. We distribute food and medicine. Right now, we’re thinking about how to organize iftar [rupture du jeûne lors du ramadan] in homes. “ A challenge in times of social distancing.
The meeting between antifascists and undocumented migrants did not date from the pandemic. The former have always been involved in the regularization of undocumented workers. And the recent period – movement against the labor law in 2016, movement of “yellow vests” in 2018-2019, movement against pension reform – has served as a crucible for collaboration between these circles.
“We are activists from these struggles, the bonds of trust exist between us, explains Nargesse, 28, who is also an activist at the Action antifasciste Paris-banlieue. We want to establish immediate and concrete solidarity in our daily practice. We put everyone in touch in an ultra-participative approach, without being humanitarian. “ The latter are, in fact, considered too paternalistic and not revolutionary enough.
An idea from Milan
Because the political objective of these activists of the extra-parliamentary left remains to put into action “Health self-defense”. Understand, always according to the text published on the site Acta : “Immediate solidarity work, for and with the populations most affected by the crisis, who are also those whose state is structurally disinterested. ”
This reasoning is articulated with “Popular self-defense”, who intends to fight, according to their terminology, “The fascist aspects” of the French political regime (in particular, according to them, police violence in working-class neighborhoods, or class justice).
The idea for the creation of popular solidarity brigades came from Milan. No wonder when we know the implantation of autonomous thought in the Lombard capital and the powerful network of “self-managed social centers” inherited from the protest movement of the 1970s. “At the start of confinement, we wondered how we could intervene during this period. We turned to the Milanese comrades who were ten days ahead of us “, explains Nargesse again.
The popular solidarity brigades claim to have created a “health committee” with health professionals
If the Italian militants are close to a big NGO in connection with the town hall of Milan, the Ile-de-France people prefer self-organization. They claim to have created a “Health committee” with health professionals to train in barrier gestures, in the proper use of masks to avoid being vectors for the spread of the virus during distributions or during marauding.
The popular solidarity brigades also claim to help families in difficulty with educational support. “We do this by Zoom or by phone, we collect materials, details Nargesse. We also do homework hogwash. ” To date, around fifty brigades have been created around the world, the vast majority in France and Italy.