By Charlie Kimber in Lyon
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2862

French riots: Protesters disrupt Lyon court cases amid state clampdown

Justice minister Eric Dupond-Moretti has demanded the courts prosecute parents of arrested minors
Issue 2862
A picture of protesters outside the courts in Lyon illustrating an article on the French riots

Protesters outside the courts in Lyon in solidarity with people arrested in the French riots

Protesters in Lyon on Tuesday forced a halt to trials of people grabbed during the riots. They disrupted the authorities’ attempts to rush through the preliminary hearings of 25 defendants in a single day.

Marie, one of those taking part in the demonstration, told Socialist Worker, “We came at first to show solidarity and to show they were not alone. There were also legal people there to help those who’d not have proper representation. There were so many of us—about 80—that we crowded out the session.

“A cop didn’t like a slogan on a T-shirt that someone was wearing and told him to leave. He refused so that started a row. Then the police and court officials objected to people filming what was going on—lots of us had our phones out to video it. 

“We were shouting and the other side was pushing us about and eventually they had to stop the session. It was, for them, a big scandal. It helped to break down this atmosphere of a solemn process of justice.

“It’s not justice. It’s a way of very quickly sending out a message from the state that if you rise up, or maybe are just on the streets at the time, you will be punished.

“We chanted slogans such as, “Everyone hates the police,” and, “The police kill.” More cops arrived. Of course they will start the trials again soon. And we won’t be allowed in the next time.”

Courts, directed by state demands for heavy punishments, are now handing down big jail sentences for those deemed guilty.

Justice minister Eric Dupond-Moretti has sent out a circular to prosecutors demanding a “rapid, firm and systematic criminal response against their perpetrators”. He said being part of a group action should be a reason to ramp up sentences, and to remanded people in prison if their cases are postponed.

The circular advised prosecutors to consider going after the parents of arrested minors. Mothers or fathers who are judged to have “compromised the health, safety, morals or education of their minor child” face up to two years in jail and a fine of £25,000.

Dupond-Moretti’s call to use all the repressive legal methods available is bearing fruit. In Marseille, a judge sentenced a man to ten months in prison for allegedly stealing a can of Red Bull drink. He had entered a looted supermarket and picked it up during the French riots.

Another man, caught in possession of cheese from a looted shop, was sentenced to six months in prison. A judge sentenced another man to one year in prison for receiving stolen objects, which he picked up on the ground three hours after a store was looted.

The Revolution Permanente socialist website reports that at the Bobigny court near Paris, the first nine defendants were sent to prison immediately. That included four high school students jailed for six months each. Others who said they were innocent and could prove it were still locked up pending a trial in a month’s time.

Such savage treatment is designed to intimidate and break resistance. The sentences after the British riots in 2011 were even worse.

One man in Nottingham was sentenced to 33 months in prison for threatening a riot on Facebook. Another in Manchester was jailed for 16 months after taking one lick of an ice cream he had taken from a looted shop.

  • Marie is a pseudonym

French cops kill again

Police have added another victim to their death toll. It’s highly likely that a man died in Marseille last weekend after he was hit by one of the cops’ “non-lethal” weapons.

On the night of 1 to 2 July, a 27-year-old man died while riding his scooter.

La Marseillaise newspaper reports that, according to the prosecution, the beginning of the investigation “allow us to consider as probable a death caused by a violent shock to the chest”. This was “caused by the firing of a “flash-ball type” projectile.” The police are the only ones who have such armaments.

“This impact led to cardiac arrest and therefore death soon after,” added the Marseille prosecutor’s office.

RAID special units, which the state uses to deliver the highest level of repression, were in  Marseille that night. In addition to their usual weaponry, they fired shotguns loaded with “bean bags”. These are used widely in the US and are very dangerous.

Meanwhile, in Mont-Saint-Martin in north east France, 25-year-old Aimene Bahouh has been in a coma since Friday due to police attacks. In the city of Strasbourg, a young person hit by a rubber bullet has been seriously wounded.

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance