Chained to the gate and forming a human barrier by taping their arms, around fifty members of the Extinction Rébellion collective blocked access to the Garonne golf course on Saturday morning for more than two hours.
Jenna, an activist for two years with Extinction Rebellion, evokes a “symbolic action, which denounces the symbols of social and economic success, such as golf courses, private jets, SUVs…”
“We understand that this type of action is perceived as radical, but it is an inevitable way of attracting the eye of the general public,” she explained to AFP.
This golf course had already been targeted by an action by the Kirikou collective in August. The activists then blocked several holes in the course with cement and tore up pieces of lawn by hand.
Since this summer, one of the hottest in history, a dozen golf courses have been degraded by environmental activists.
Weighed down by a flurry of days without rain at more than 40 degrees, the list of departments hit by water restrictions then stretches dangerously. France is suffocating, and this heat stroke will sound like an alarm clock for some.
On BFM-TV, on July 31, the ecologist mayor of Grenoble Eric Piolle lights the fuse and is publicly surprised: “Why can we water the golf greens when everyone is short of water? This just shows that the state of mind is not the right one”.
In August, activists from the Kirikou collective first wanted to denounce the absurdity of watering the greens in the midst of a drought.
– 227,000 liters of water –
“This hole drinks 227,000 liters of water a day. Do you drink that much?” Denounces a sign near one of the targeted golf courses.
A message further away from the defense of the environment also points, with accents of the ultra-left: “This hole could have sheltered roots, bourgeois pleasure decided otherwise”.
Since then, eight other golf courses have suffered a similar fate, all over France.
The French Golf Federation (FFG) has nevertheless tried to respond, assuring that an average golf course consumes 50,000 m3 of water per year, that the watering exemptions only concern the greens of the courses, i.e. 2% of the surface Total… Nothing worked.
“We are quite irreproachable on ecological issues, we work in particular with the French office for biodiversity. We are fully aware of the climate emergency. But these people are on the wrong target”, explains the president of the FFG, Pascal Grizot.
– “Tremble bourgeois” –
And then the fight seems to have changed slightly. The messages accompanying these actions, which continued long after the summer, visibly took a more Marxist turn, like those tagged on certain holes of the Saint-Cloud golf course (Hauts-de-Seine), vandalized at the end of September: “Riche= thief”, “Bourgeois=parasites”, “Tremble bourgeois, we will come back for the bonfire”.
This action, claimed by the group of “Sanglier.es radicalisé.es” echoes one of their first actions a month earlier in a golf course in Oise where banners had been placed on the course: “Les golfs parasitize the forest, the bourgeois.es parasitize society”, and “Death to capital”.
The DNA of these small groups therefore comes a priori from an extreme left mixing both ecological combat and class struggle.
But have they found the right target? Is golf a sport actually reserved for the rich, for the bourgeois with an ecological conscience as thick as the mowing of the greens?
With nearly 450,000 members, it is the fourth most practiced sport in France. “If all golfers were wealthy, it would be known. Golf courses are like hotels, there are palaces and one-star hotels, and palaces are less than 5% of golf courses”, summarizes Pascal Grizot.
“I do not understand them, they are criminal acts. And the people who carry out these acts are not aware of what has become of golf”, continues the president of the FFG. What shocks me is to use criminal means to try to be heard, there are other means than to ransack.