As we gear up for the 2010 elections in one of the worst economy’s this country has faced since the Great Depression of the 1930s, thousands of miles away, folks in France in our kicking up dust, shutting things down with a general strike, rioting and holding the line. What’s at stake is a plan to raise the retirement age from 60-62 yrs and folks aren’t having it. Boots Riley from The Coup is over in France on tour. He noted that he’s been stuck there due to the General Strike and has been sending us pictures and giving us updates on his Facebook page as to what’s happening. Boots posted this the other day.
“General strike’s still growing. Gas stations running out of gas due to refinery workers & truck drivers striking. High Schoolers have been more militant than University students, w/almost 1000 high schools striking- many marched to Universities to get them to join. French govt went on TV saying they just learned from Saudi Arabia of an impending “terrorist attack” on France- so everyone should stay in!”
He was later asked if he believed the French government and if people should be staying in..Boots responded that he believed the exact opposite. He felt people should be out in the streets. He later noted that dock workers got into physical confrontations with the police.
“The nation-wide general strike here in France is gaining momentum in the millions. Strike is against government bill to raise retirement from 60 to 62. Many trains are cancelled. High School & College students joined in. Refinery workers have joined and are refusing to release oil to distributors. This picture is from a couple of days ago in Bordeaux.” from http://twitter.com/BootsRiley
Boots also alerted us to what went down when he went to Carhaix, France to speak at a high school. The students joined the strike and walked out. The teachers will be following them today. One of the things we want to ask Boots is how are immigrant and African communities doing? If folks recall France was lit up on fire after police who are known to be pretty racist killed a Black man. For like 2 weeks riots unfolded with the French government blaming and later bringing charges on popular rap artists like Monsieur R for instigating the unrest with their political songs that called for harming the police. All in all over 200 lawmakers signed a petition against the rapper. Monsieur R was facing 3 years in jail. With this huge strike going on in France that has essentially brought things to a standstill, it would be good to know how communities of color are doing. Are the police cracking down harder on them? Are they in the forefront as was the case in 2005?
In the meantime we should keep in mind how this strike has taken a big backseat on many mainstream news outlets here in the states. The few that are covering it, try to make light of the French for protesting the two years they want to add to the retirement age. Many ignorantly assert that the French are being lazy and want to live off the government while neglecting to point out that they pay much higher taxes which is supposed to allow folks to get pensions and have a good quality of life. These Tea party types run around crying that they don’t want to be like France, while maintaining their own government benefits. All the while we have politicians like John Boehner who may the next speaker of the house pushing to raise the retirement age to 70. While others politicians want to reduce social security. Sadly far too many of us are willing to sit back and allow this to happen without a fight.
We’ll keep you updated on what goes on with Boots over in France and the Strike. Written by Davey-D for http://daveyd.com