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American grandmother sits in up French crane for visiting rights


A 70-year-old American woman staged a sit-in on top of a crane on a building site in southern France Saturday, demanding the right to see her granddaughter. Several fathers have taken similar action in France this year, demanding the right to see their children.


April Reiss, 70, spent Saturday 30 metres up in the air in the centre of the Rhone Valley town of Privas, demanding to see her granddaughter, Rose, who is six years old and lives with her mother.

Rose’s father, Scott Alexander Reiss, stood at the foot of the crane, chanting “When will I see my Ardèche rose?” in French, English and German.

In the last few weeks several fathers have staged crane sit-ins, in some case accusing judges of systematic bias towards mothers.

On Friday a man climbed the façade of Paris’s Pompidou Centre and came down after an hour after being promised a meeting with a local politician.

April Reiss says that she has come to France from Connecticutt to see Rose. 

She was accompanied by Nicolas Moreno, who went on hunger strike for three weeks in 2012, demanding the right to see more of his two sons who live with their mother in the western Landes region.

In February Moreno joined another father, Serge Charney, in a three-day crane sit-in for visiting rights in Nantes, Brittany.

April Reiss claims that a court has granted her the right to see her granddaughter every day between 23 February and 10 March but that her daughter-in-law, a Belgian living in France, has prevented her from doing so.

She claims that her husband is seriously ill and “wants to se his granddaughter before he dies”.

“I’m not mad,” she told the AFP news agency. “But I love my granddaughter very much and I no longer have confidence in the legal system.”

Public prosecutor Dominque Sénéchal denounced the sit-in as “manipulation” and told AFP that her father was under investigation for sexual abuse of his daughter and on parole.

“You can understand that the mother was concerned and vanished when she heard that her mother-in-law wanted to see her granddaughter,” he said.

An appeal against the visiting rights is to be heard in June.

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