The Louise Michel is a former French Navy boat we’ve customised to perform search and rescue. She is as agile as she is pink. Measuring 30 meters in length and capable of over 28 knots, she was bought with proceeds from the sale of Banksy artwork - who then decorated her with a fire extinguisher. She is captained and crewed by a team of rescue professionals drawn from across Europe. She runs on a flat hierarchy and a vegan diet.
It might seem incredible there is need for a homemade emergency vehicle in one of Europe’s busiest waterways, but there is. In response to the crisis on the Mediterranean, European states instruct their Coastguard not to answer distress calls from ‘non-Europeans’ leaving desperate people to drift helplessly at sea. To make matters worse authorities prevent other boats from providing assistance, arresting crews and impounding boats that do.
The MV Louise Michel and our crew of activists and volunteers actively resist the discriminatory power structures of nationalism, racism, patriarchy and capitalism. The MV Louise Michel intends to uphold maritime law by rescuing anyone in peril without prejudice. In solidarity with people on the move, we are working against any policy that willingly lets ‘non-Europeans’ drown in its waters. We are fighting for freedom of movement for everyone, because as Louise Michel said, “Something besides charity is needed in order to provide bread for everyone.” Humanitarian aid is not the only answer.
The M.V. LouiseMichel needs
The people at sea are not unlucky casualties of the elements. This crisis is not a natural disaster. It is created by political decisions and a failure of humanity. It cannot be solved by lifeboats. If we want to sustainably stop the drowning we have to stop forcing people onto these boats. So if you want to contribute - speak up against racism, join the movements for climate justice - take any kind of action to defend global respect for all forms of life, near or far.
How societies manage migration is a complex issue that involves us all. But it should never be one that casually dispenses the death penalty.
Everyone coming aboard the ship will have their temperature and blood oxygen levels taken and be issued with a face mask. Any crew or guests displaying symptoms will be separated from those who are not.