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#Paris on #MayDay: “They want us to taste the fear of death” – Eyewitness account of a protester

The Facebook page of the “Gilets Jaunes info in English” translated this personal account from the madness of the 1st of May in Paris. Of note is the sheer horror of being subject to this brutal police violence, and the on-the-ground reality of what happened at the Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital which has been scandalously lied about across the media – the “attackers” were escaping the police kettle through the hospital, and responding to shocking repression.

Originally published by Révolution Permante. Translated by Gilets Jaunes info in English Facebook page. Image above by Karl Hall.

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”While the media rejoice in chorus that “the order” has been maintained, a protester tells us from inside the sequence of events and the real face of law and order promoted by Castaner and Lallement:

I joined the demonstration around 13:30 at the street of Montparnasse. This is a crazy world, by then it was already difficult to circulate. I was in the procession for barely ten minutes when I already felt the pressure rise on the side of the police who were very tense.

Here, however, the situation was peaceful, people ate merguez amidst union flags and balloons, routine. Suddenly, when no one has a mask and everyone was calm, tear gas was shot at us, right in the middle of the labour union movement. Everyone chokes, the procession is so dense that panic spreads amongst the crowd. People just have to walk through it.

While we were looking for some air, the BRAV [Police on motorbikes with batons and pepper spray, infamous for being extremely dangerous and endlessly violent] made an incursion into the procession. At this moment I hear behind me dull blows, several in a row. When I turn around, I see a woman and a man on the ground, both of them with their skulls in blood. The cops directly aimed at the head, they came to hurt. I see the man half an hour later, a huge bandage surrounds his skull. He was hit behind the head as he attempted to escape the tear-gas clouds without a mask or scarf. I try to go to the back of the demonstration, hoping to find some air and put myself out of reach of this enraged police. I then meet another protester also hit in the head, his face covered with blood.

Every hour, the police attack us seeking every time to do the worst possible, the number of wounded seems incredible, they are everywhere. A guy in his fifties walks past his face wrapped in a bandage blackened with dried blood. We are only demonstrating, everything is calm and they are hitting us.

But the worst thing is the gassing. Usually, when gas falls on us, it is possible to retreat. Yesterday, they gassed us by encircling us, blocking us and where there were as many people as possible so that people could not flee. Around 16:30, boulevard de la hopitall, it was even worse. The aggression of the gas is intolerable, those who have nothing to protect themselves panic. I saw the fear of asphyxiation in their eyes, they were really afraid of dying. People rushed int their dozens into a building hall.

The idea of being beaten or gassed in a cramped room keeps me from going in there too, I look for some air on the ground and decide to stay on the boulevard. More gas. The medics are overwhelmed, there are stretchers and dozens of people in a state of respiratory distress. Some try to flee through the hospital, it’s the fear that drove them there. I think about it too but BRAVs arrive very quickly. When I hear the news that people came in to “ransack” the hospital I was upset. [The media framed the situation as if the GJ entered the hospitals just to vandalise it. Disgusting propaganda lies, they were running from this awful police violence.]

Those who govern attack the hospital and the lives of caregivers every day, with austerity, and no journalists are there to be moved and to report as they should. But when you have to blacken paper [a metaphor, like ‘darken the news’] with fakery and fantasies to better hide the reality of the 1st of May, its a [media] stampede. As soon as a respite sets in, it’s rage you hear. The police are torturing us with very powerful gas that even burn the skin and prevent us from leaving or going back. They do not try to disperse us, they really try to kill us, they want us to taste the fear of dying, it’s a certainty, and it’s not my first manifestation.

Around 17:30 I manage by chance to leave the trap while a gap is opened by the gendarmes on the side of Austerlitz. On the way back, the violence of this policing of terror is on everyone’s lips. What the protesters experienced yesterday is new and incredibly brutal but the anger is even stronger than usual. When I hear people tell of their day, I tell myself that Lallement really has no idea what he is sowing. The anger is immense that he knows: everyone really hates the police and that it will last.”

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