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Unrest in #Beaubreuil, #France: “We are at war”… against the police!

For a week now, riots have been continuing in the suburbs of France. Several hundred riot cops have been sent to the districts. By the middle of the week, it is said that there were about 2,000 cops, then no more numbers were published. Instead, dozens of videos are circulating on social networks from the various cities in which long columns of CRS [1] vans can be seen.

Originally published by La Bogue. Introdurcion originally published by Autonomie Magazin. Introduction written by Sebastian Lotzer. Translated by Enough 14 (Our english translation was translated from the German version which appeared on Autonomie Magazin. The German version was translated by Sebastian Lotzer).

Everything started the way it always started. Someone rides around on his moped, the cops chasing him. Wrong place, wrong skin colour, or a cop just doesn’t like his face. Helmet requirement or not, they always find something. So full speed and passed, of course in plain clothes, and slammed the passenger door in the poor bugger’s face. He crashes into a bollard, his leg cracked, he screams in pain. That evening, riots broke out in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, northeast of Paris.

Since the curfew started, six people have been killed in police operations, and several have been injured, some of them seriously. In Chanteloup-les-Vigne, during a brawl with residents, the cops shot a rubber bullet at a five-year-old girl’s head. The child had to undergo emergency surgery in hospital and was put into an artificial coma.

The corona pandemic hits the poorest of the poor, the inhabitants of the “quartiers populaires”, the suburbs, particularly hard. On one hand, there is a much higher rate of infection because people live in much more cramped spaces, those who have low-paid jobs in the inner cities have to travel to work in crowded buses and trains. There are many people with chronic diseases, medical care is much worse. On the other hand, many people lose their already modest livelihoods, everything that was earned with black labor or in the form of tips is lost. The children can no longer eat for free at school or daycare. One sees long queues of people at the few distribution points for free food. Often crowded together in the too small flats of the satellite towns, the curfew deprives people of the last chance for a halfway bearable life. Under these circumstances, from the very first day of the curfew (which is much more extensive in France than in Germany), clashes between angry young people and the cops occurred. After the events in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, the situation escalated. From Strasbourg to Marseille there were riots, which had to be organised under considerably more difficult conditions for the youths due to the curfew.

Sebastian Lotzer, April 26, 2020.

But let the people involved have their say. A report from Beaubreuil, a suburb of Limoges:

Limoges: city of cops!

The weeks go by and the violence of the state constitutes itself again and sweats through all its pores (murderers).

In Limoges, the occupying army militarily occupies public space. At the same time, the city of Limoges was equipped with 145 video surveillance cameras that were connected to the cops (municipal police, national police and the Baqueux [2] around the clock. As if they didn’t want to miss anything from the show, they used drones and helicopters to make the surveillance perfect…

With all this equipment the cops feel strong and show it. They impose fines, insult, beat and control people…but not just anyone…they target goals! Sex workers, precarious people, people with what they consider the wrong skin colour…

I have never heard so many buddies say that they were insulted, abused or beaten by cops! And yet, please don’t think it was anything unusual!

They have dreamed of it, now they have it… the legal means to control the entire population. It’s no surprise that there are “flaws” when you generalize the controlling power to law enforcement.

Well, at the same time…if the mistakes become commonplace and are directed against sex workers, people with the supposedly wrong skin colour, the poor etc., they are not mistakes! That’s exactly what they are supposed to do in the good old republican institution of the police. You see, this is not slander!

In order to be able to question in a quiet environment, they can also arrest people and put them in prison for three months if they have not presented their certificate four times [3]. This is exactly what happened near our house…

At the same time, we see that they further restrict prisoners by imposing a ban on visits from relatives and friends. That they expose them to serious health risks (apart from the usual danger in prison): no masks, no disinfectant, hardly any medical and nursing care. And if they are rightfully rebelling…we send them special units, the ERIS [4], a bit like the CRS, but with shotguns – and other units, the list is long – and the right to shoot them.

In the last few weeks, the trouble has increased. But then again, this is nothing new. The city of Limoges has long been a city of cops. The city cops are militarily armed and oppress people in the streets every day, whores, drug addicts. They always take you with them, if they want to. If you are too drunk, too strange, too much whatever… And if this is not common sense, others support these daily practices without saying anything. So, all in one basket!

A man was badly beaten up by the cops (the BAC, who else) yesterday in Beaubreuil. A resident tells us he’s not surprised. Because since the curfew began, the police have insulted everyone: “the staff of Limoges Habitat (HLM office), the passers-by, everyone”

The circumstances of the aggression are not clear, but the information about the violence of the police officers is assured. They are said to have used stun grenades.

As usual, the media passed on the information with the version of the police officers. Especially through the voice of the trade union Alliance [5], which expressed its hatred for the neighbourhood… You are the “no-go” zone!

Today, Wednesday April 22nd, the police repress the inhabitants of Beaubreuil who are expressing their anger! They will not tolerate it any longer. In return, the cops are shooting flash-balls and tear gas on the market square.

In order to defend themselves, cars are burning and smoke is rising above the residential towers (in the direction of the old swimming pool that was destroyed by the municipality…) ! A ladder is placed on a construction pole to reach a surveillance camera. One of the protagonists hits it and it drops to the ground! The action was repeated on another place and then on yet another place! The cameras flew far !

During the Molotov cocktail party the extension of the town hall was burned down to the foundation walls at 06.30 pm! The symbols fall!

In an atmosphere smoke-filled by tear gas, the district, although enclosed, is covered with tear gas. The gendarmerie supports the police during the riots.

While at 8.30 p.m. a candidate for the local elections from the list of Thierry Miguel (former head of the BAC of Limoges… Limoges city of cops!) calls for calm in the networks, the prefect sends half a company of the CRS to the district at 8.30 p.m. to be able to suppress the uprising better! Meanwhile, Emile-Roger congratulates Lombertie (current mayor of Limoges) for his repressive action… while spreading untruths and his hatred against the rioters…

Shortly before 10:00 p.m., the people went home. Calmness may have returned, but the district is under surveillance by the police, the CRS and the police dog brigades… The night is a good time for counselling, my friends!

Then, around 11 pm, the bastards rise up on their part! Barricades are erected at an intersection and Molotov cocktails are thrown against cars. The police don’t interfere, they only support the fire brigade!

We will not call for calmness… We will not divide the people in the neighbourhood into good and evil. We hope that the movement will grow and spread everywhere!

Solidarity with those who rise up!


Sebastian Lotzer published “Winter Is Coming” in 2018, a commented collection of texts about the social struggles and unrest in the suburbs of France at bahoe books, Vienna. The same publisher also published his political novels “Begrabt mein Herz am Heinrichplatz” and “Die schönste Jugend ist gefangen”. All in German and available in the Enough Info-Café. As the Enough Info-Café is temporary closed because of state measures during the corona crisis, you can also buy his books online. Send us an email at info[AT]enoughisenough.14.org


Notes

[1] The Compagnies républicaines de sécurité (Republican Security Companies), abbreviated CRS, are the general reserve of the French National Police. They are primarily involved in general security missions but the task for which they are best known is crowd and riot control. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compagnies_R%C3%A9publicaines_de_S%C3%A9curit%C3%A9

[2] Baqueux, acronyms BAC (Brigade anti-criminalité), the hated plain clothes cops, at first they were only used in the suburbs and in recent years also at leftist demonstrations in the inner cities.

[3] In France, during times of curfew, a document must always be carried with you to show a “valid” reason for leaving the house.

[4] équipes régionales d’intervention et de sécurité (ÉRIS), special unit of the judicial administration for the suppression of prison riots or intervention in cases of hostage-taking. Throughout France, there are nine units, each with 30 members. The special unit was created in 2003 by Didier Lallement, now the Paris police chief, who was promoted to this post early 2019 to control the protests of the Gilets Jaunes in the French capital.

[5] Alliance is a right-wing police union with sympathies for Le Pen


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