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#Nantes #JusticePourSteve August 3: Tribute, Rage and Revolt

A reportback from yesterdays protests and clashes in Nantes (French territory). Tribute and recollection for Steve in the morning. 5000 demonstrators against police violence and barricades in the afternoon.

Originally published by Nantes Revoltée Facebook page. Translated by Enough 14.

It is hot, very hot on Saturday August the 3rd in Nantes. Neither the scorching temperatures, nor the police violence, nor the provocations of the authorities, nor the despicable statements of the government are likely to reduce the tension. A terrible climate, since the police attack on the music festival, the fall of 14 people in the Loire and Steve’s disappearance. It has even been stifling since Monday, when the lifeless body of the 24-year-old from Nantes was discovered in the river.

For days, the prefecture and some newspapers did everything they could to create an anxiety provoking climate. To discourage people who would like to take to the streets, to express their indignation or sadness. Explicit threats, the implementation of an extraordinary repressive system, and all kinds of instrumentalizations. In a typical Mafia strategy, those responsible for Steve’s death, prefect and ministers in the lead, dared to say that it was not necessary to demonstrate to commerorate steve. The murderers take ownership of the mourning. A perverse reversal of values.

In the morning, there was a strong moment of remembrance. From 11am, on the island of Nantes, hundreds of people gathered to pay tribute to Steve. A dignified, almost silent moment under the yellow crane. Flowers are thrown into a shim overlooking the Loire. At high tide, they will be carried away by the water current. Long applause resounds. Some banners are hung. The emotion is palpable.

Another atmosphere two hours later. This time a demonstration against all police violence will start in the heart of the city. Demonstrating in the middle of summer, despite the intimidation of power, is a challenge. Hundreds of police officers have been stationed in the city since the previous day. Dozens of people were arrested “preventively”, even before the demonstration. Some were followed by the political police. But the crowd is impressive at the meeting point. A compact demonstration under a blazing sun sets off on the “Cour des 50 Otages” (Street in Nantes). Families from Nantes, angry youth, and many Yellow Vests who came without their jackets, sometimes from far away, to join the ranks. The entire street is filled with a crowd of at least 5000 people, who scream their anger. The words “justice”, or “revolution”, thundered in rhythm by hundreds of voices, give chills. A dull anger, which explodes at every intersection, where there are gendarmes: “Get out! “The names of the victims, Zineb, Adama, Steve, Rémi or Aboubacar resound. Many banners and other creative slogans scatter the march, like this mirror, brandishes in front of each line of police officers, carrying this message: “who mutilates and kills with impunity?”

“who mutilates and kills with impunity?”

The anger, contained for weeks, overflows in front of the prefecture. The water cannons and tear gas canisters are going wild. A banner is hung on the wall. Projectiles are raining. A side door of the building begins to bend under the blows of a makeshift ram. The procession reformed and set off on Cours Saint Pierre. New gases, particularly stinging, Joffre square. The demonstrators were pushed back further, where a large barricade was lit, then another one around a construction site. The gendarmerie helicopter was grazed by fireworks. It would disappear from the sky for several hours. A scroll of black smoke gives the impression that the castle of the dukes is in flames.

Another round of clashes at Bouffay. The BAC (infamous police forces) retreats into an alleyway under the screams. The Mac Donald’s branch is a mess after it was attacked. Then a massive charge explodes what remains of the demo into multiple groups. Several barricades were erected, and sometimes ignited. Some people were injured. Some say they saw Commissioner Chassaing, who gave the order on June 21. Detonations respond to each other in various places.

Some demonstrators seem tireless, and return in waves, after being pushed back hard. Clashes took place in front of the Media Library, in Commerce, in Bouffay, where a man had a heart attack and a policeman was injured. Until 8pm, stainless yellow vests continued to hold the streets, block trams, and respond to repression. Hundreds of tear gas cartridges littered the ground.

At the end of the day, the police lost control. Many police vehicles patrol the streets. They are insulted when passing in front of the terraces. You’d think the whole city was screaming its anger. Several bars receive grenades in retaliation. Passers-by are gassed from CRS trucks. Agents insult the people of Nantes to respond to the booing. The atmosphere is serious. At least 40 people were arrested during the day.

The city looks like it has been branded with a red-hot marking iron. Actions and rallies took place at the same time from Nice to Caen via Paris. Their violence will not silence legitimate defiance…

Nantes Revoltée, August 4, 2019

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