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#Paris, March 29: The first time I was checked under confinement rules

Paris. March 29, 2020. I [ 1 ] share an account of my first control under confinement rules in Paris. I hope to read others, so that we have a better idea of what margins of maneuver we still have in this new normality.

Originally published by Paris-Luttes. Translated by Enoigh 14.

Rue de Belleville, at the level of the monoprix, I see four mobile policemen controlling the passersby on foot. Not very daring but not panicking, I try to evade through the rue des Pyrénées. The cops found me at the Pyrenees-Belleville crossroads, and off I go. They ask me very politely if I can show them my certificate, I do so without answering and without zeal. On the certificate, my real name, an address 4 kilometers away, and as a pretext, purchases of basic necessities. For my little story, looking for cigarettes in district 93 [2] in the period of confinement on a Sunday, it’s dead, I’m going to look for it in Paris.

They ask me for my ID, I tell them I don’t have it with me and that I don’t have anything on me to prove my identity. They tell me that I will be checked at the police station, I find a “carte bleue” [3] in the bottom of a pocket, it seems to be enough for them. In any case, I’m getting a lecture on the 4 km and the most zealous gendarme is already giving me a ticket.

Then there’s a series of questions, maybe because I’m on the S list [4], maybe not. They enter my marital status on their NEO mobile terminal [5], realize, I imagine, that the address given does not correspond to the one in their files. They ask me if I am a tenant or a landlord, I answer hosted. They ask me the name of the person hosting me. I refuse at first, but under pressure of the fine I drop a (false) name. I walked around with my headphones on, so when I say I don’t want to give them my number, I changed the number a bit, and it worked. It should be noted that the gendarme tried to call me to see if it was the right number. They also forced me to open my bag, without searching it, but asking what was inside. They asked me what kind of work I was doing and I answered that I was at the RSA [6] and that I would be in big trouble with this fine.

I’m not sure if they recorded the information on their NEO mobile terminal, but it seems very likely. In the end they didn’t give me the ticket and let me go in the opposite direction to home. 20 minutes of control, rather moderate pressure but pressure all the same. No searching of my bag or physical searches, a good deal of bluffing.

Let us continue to fight against all authority.


[1] Dude, mid-30s, white, looking a bit feminine.

[2] District 93: Seine-Saint-Denis is a French department located in the Île-de-France region and in the Grand Paris. Locally, it is often referred to colloquially as quatre-vingt treize or neuf trois (i.e., “ninety-three” or “nine three”), after its official administrative number, 93.

[3] Carte Bleue (English: Blue Card) was a major debit card payment system operating in France. Unlike Visa Electron or Maestro debit cards, Carte Bleue allowed transactions without requiring authorization from the cardholder’s bank.

[4] In France, a fiche S (English: S card) is an indicator used by law enforcement to flag an individual considered to be a serious threat to national security. The S stands for Sûreté de l’État (“state security”). It is the highest level of such a warning in France; it allows surveillance but is not cause for arrest.

[5] NEO is a project aimed to provide French police officers and gendarmes with mobile terminals with a secure broadband connection. It is based on a version of Android developed by the national agency of the security of the information systems (ANSSI) with the support of the service for technologies and information systems of homeland security (ST[SI]²). NEO stands for new operational equipment.

[6] The Revenu de solidarité active (RSA) is a French form of in work welfare benefit aimed at reducing the barrier to return to work. It was implemented on 1 June 2009 by the French government.

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