Zone A Défendre
Tritons crété-e-s contre béton armé

Home > Texts > Testimonies > Testimony received since February 22nd

Testimony received since February 22nd

Thursday 27 February 2014

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Testimony received since February 22nd :

I was at the demo, Saturday in Nantes, and I was taken hostage by unacceptable acts of violence.

From the morning, barricades were erected in the center of the city, which disturbed public order and prevented the demonstration from following it’s planned path. Only one hour after the beginning of the march, the crowd found itself blocked by one of these barricades and the flying projectiles which were soon coming from two sides.

From that moment on, organized groups proved their extreme violence until the evening.

These hierarchical groups are easily recognized: dressed in black, their faces are usually masked by a navy blue helmet, they move in small groups of 5 or 6. These people are armed and well informed of techniques of combat. Ready to use limitless violence to defend their ideals, they fight for a society of domination and against all forms of emancipation.

Responding to a national callout, proof of the size of their organization, these groups came from all over France to show their force and their determination. They live in places organized along hierarchical principles which helps them maintain an order based on the domination of others. They pass most of their time training to fight in camps organized according to military principles. Watch out, they are also in your neighborhood!

These groups of “destroyers” take advantage of big political demonstrations to put into practice their violence and their determination. The size of these demonstrations lets them act with impunity, returning to the anonymity of a system that protects them, to hide their identities and to never have to be responsible for their actions. They destroy not windows, but other people.

On this day in Nantes, these “black cops” seriously wounded several people, which I won’t list here because there are too many. The prefect of the Loire Atlantique, Christian de Lavernée, regrets that “the historical neighborhood of Feydeau Island became a theatre of operations for those who were prepared, equipped, and armed for destroying and attacking”, he also added that he needed to think about the relation between what happened in Nantes last Saturday and what is happening in our country: “It’s a eruption of everyday violence” (of the society) he added.

This violence targets people.

So how do we react? Unhappily, violence seems sometimes like the only way of immediately stopping these acts of violence. Should we respond to violence with violence? Should we hate violent people?

What is the political logic behind this organized violence? Why are these people attacking us? Apart from provoking a violent response to decredibilize a political movement, I don’t know.

Not wanting to become violent myself against people, how to deal with the hatred that I feel when faced with these agressions? Not wanting to fall into their media trap that makes a spectacle of this organized violence, how to resist this domination?

Lets fight everywhere, everyday against the violence that surrounds us. Lets express our anger by acts of resistance and targeted sabotage. Lets take the example of the actions of political destruction that happened last saturday. For example, the destruction of a VINCI real estate office, two travel agencies, a police station, advertisements...

Camille, February 25, 2014

Disgust- Nantes, February 23, 2014

“We are disgusted. At the anti-airport demo, there were so many people. From all over France, people of all ages, of many different political leanings, and people, simple citizens like us, who don’t belong to any political parties and are not activists. Calm, smiling, peaceful and determined people.

We came to say no to a project that was designed 40 years ago, and no longer corresponds to current needs for transport or possible futures. Without counting the enormous ecological impact with respect to the disappearance of certain endangered species, or the paving of yet another essential ecosystem: no matter the floods in Redon and other cities in the West this last winter, without this last holdout of wetland and countryside. The current airport can be retrofitted with a much smaller ecological cost, it has been proven by many studies, with reasonable arguments which were barely published by the local press and even less via mass media.

But today what disgusts and revolts us is the way in which Saturday’s demonstration was planned and manipulated to produce the confrontations which were surely what the people in power wanted to discredit the movement! Like a pre-written scenario, the original path of the demo is changed two days before the demonstration, leaving very little time for the organizers to guarantee good conditions for supervision and outlining the path. It is the first time that the center of Nantes is forbidden to a demonstration and the crowd with a majority of people that don’t know the city well, finds itself spread out and lost, with the police who were impossibly inefficient. The massive deployment of the police that were there to protect the inaccessible heart of the city, brings to mind a city under siege, and that is the same and only image that the media put out that night!

Wake up quickly Mr. Hollande!

Testimony of military police charging Place de Commerce

Hello and congratulations on your efforts. There were not 63 buses at the demo but 64, because ours, for logistical reasons and timing, was parked at la Beaujoire. I share your analysis about the confrontations, and I was wondering with the others if actually Valls (the minister of the interior) and the other pro-airport people hadn’t actually planned everything out so that it would degenerate, even though it started out with a great festive atmosphere despite this city in a state of siege. Also, close to where the speeches were happening, we can testify to a charge of military police, although no one was bothering or provoking them. After being forced to retreat by the determination of an old man that they couldn’t beat up because there were too many people watching, they shot 20-something tear gas grenades, even though there were children and old people. A girl from our committee was gassed, if she’s in the black-bloc then she’s very advanced for her age, she’s less than 10 years old!

The COPAINS 44 can vouch for this testimony

Joy and Rage, a personal account of the February 22nd demonstration

The demo was one of the most beautiful that i’ve ever done. So much life and energy and joy of being there! Music, banners, personalized signs, dancing, singing, costumes (the salamander masks were excellent) and even a treehouse! We arrived very tired after a long bus ride from Toulouse. After breakfast we went to the market in the city center, with our signs that said where we came from. We were kindly welcomed by many people, which immediately confirmed for us our conviction that the voyage was worth all the effort. Then in the street we crossed several dozen tractors, with trailers full of happy people in all sorts of disguises. We got onto the sidewalk and waved our signs, and there we felt it was important to be present. This feeling continued the length of the demo: the warm thanks from dozens of people touched by the fact that we came from so far away. Many told us that they would come support us, if ever we needed it... And we took advantage of the occasion to tell them about what worries us the most: the constant threat of fracking and the crazy plan to make Las Vegas in La Garde, and the golf courses in Saint Hilaire... We spend a large part of the demo behind the banner from Montpellier “Gardarem la Terra”. The length of the crowd, we had contact with people who had problems in their regions too, and we will keep contact with them. As for the “incidents”, they were already forseeable considering the gigantic size of the police deployment, the disproportionate nature of the forces of so called “order”, and the arbitrary ban on taking the street which up until then was the street taken by every single demo in Nantes. The most memorable sight was probably the burning of a (VINCI) drilling machine on a construction site. But we should especially talk about the effort to bring down the good atmosphere by the deployment of military police, powerfully armed, who blocked the access to the center. In the sky, a police helicopter was constantly flying over the demo, a latent menace that made us feel unsafe. At the end, this metallic buzzing became even more annoying, when they flew low over the speeches and we couldn’t hear them, there where 500 tractors were parked. Along the course of the demo we could see a VINCI office completely devastated, and I’m afraid to admit, put me in a state of joy. But we did not take part in these incidents. The tiredness from a sleepless night and so much walking was weighing us down. At the end of the demo we took refuge in a cafe to recuperate a little bit. It wasn’t until we came out that we saw the extent of the damage, if we can call it that. It was far from being “devastated”, like we heard later on the radio. A part of the city center had been modified in appearance in a way that I can’t really say they didn’t deserve. These modifications to the urban décor were actually precisely targeted. The ugly metal buildings that were transformed into halls of fire for warming the people and were letting free flames and smoke, evoking the paintings of Turner. Some bank fronts and travel agencies were destroyed, which aside from political analyses that we could make about the consequences of these kind of actions, it was not such a bad spectacle to watch. Sometimes we saw a sense of humour tagged onto the remains of a window, showing that this response was almost liberal, and at least reasonably human, a response to the moral and aesthetic aggression that is imposed on us on a daily basis in city centers, and people were only taking the tourist ads at their word, to come spend time in this kind of place. In this same light, on the window of a travel agency we saw two phrases- the official one, falsely friendly and pompous: “Welcome to our city!”, and another, more sober and sincere, the evening visitors having contented themselves with a joking: “We were here”. But finally, with so many store fronts posting with just as much vulgarity a violent passion for money and showing off, weren’t the store and bank owners taking the risk that one day we would come, having lost all patience, to tell them we were fed up? To be short, we saw from these observations that there had been “property destructers”. But let he who has never wanted to throw the least paving stone into these windows of falseness shoot the first concussion grenade.... Finally, in walking the streets of this city, we we breathed an air totally polluted with tear gas, along with all the other inhabitants of this city, helpless subject to the whims of riot police. The tear gas was used with an irresponsible absence of restraint. Obviously, everything possible was done to create the conditions for whipping up the justified anger of the demonstrators, and by imposing a police occupation that looked like Kiev in the middle of the city, to evoke a feeling of exasperation in the population. But from what I saw and felt, I don’t think that this last strategy had the desired result. It’s sure that the sellouts in the media are focusing on the “damages” caused by the “property destroyers”, and from this point of view, these actions considered as related to public safety can damage the popularity of the movement. But there was so much energy and conviction coming like rays of sun from those that experienced it, the joy of having been together for such a good cause, and this joy is contagious...

a friend of mine just got out of the hospital this morning, she had been there since saturday evening at 6pm. She had several injuries, notably her skull was open between her left temple and left ear. The scanner didn’t find any problems and the doctor is optimistic that she will recover her hearing in this ear- surely lost because of a concussion grenade. She says she was picking up someone having trouble in a cloud of tear gas, then she woke up in the hospital. She must rest for two weeks and can’t work, and it cost a lot of money to the national health system.

Hello friends,

I just read the letter of Françoise Verchère and I totally agree with what she says. We were at the demo and from the beginning I was shocked by the massive deployment of the well equipped police forces, water cannons, etc... and the enormous, peaceful, festive crowd.

Of course I saw the young people breaking things, and I don’t encourage this kind of behavior which takes away from the meaning of the movement, but I can understand why they did it... The numbers published by the media are certainly false! And they only show the destructive side of the demo, which had so many different facets.

We will stay mobilized and full of hope that this useless and harmful project will be abandoned.

I want to share with you a scene that I took part in Satuday, and which I don’t think the authorities or the organizers have mentioned.

I was in the square where the tractors were parked, level with the first tractors. There were families, young people, and middle aged people, and they were watching what was going on a bit further and discussing- a nice atmosphere. Sometimes we would back up and then advance again because of the clouds of CS gas bus as we were far from the riot cops it wasn’t that bad. Around 3:45pm the riot cops were charging, so the crowd was moving slowly backwards. Several tear gas grenades were shot into the middle of the big crowd, toward the tractors, and much further than they had done before. Everyone started running to get further away and when I returned I saw a man on the ground, having a panic attack and shaking. Someone tried to hold him down, at first I thought he was getting arrested but it was just to calm him down. We looked for a doctor and luckily we found one in the crowd. From what I could see he wasn’t bleeding but couldn’t really move because there were more CS gas grenades next to him. When I left 30 minutes later, he was still on the ground, no longer moving, and someone was giving him CPR. I don’t know what happened to him but I was really shocked by the fact that the riot police didn’t do anything about it even though there were only families and no “radicals” (as the media called them) in this place, just to protect a street of shops.

While sorting my pictures I saw this one, of the riot cops, in street clothes, shooting at head level. That’s illegal, right?

Testimony about the wounded:

Personally, I brought 8 people to the emergengy room, for:

- 3 people who got rubber bullets in the face
- One person with the eyebrow/forehead opened
- One person with grenade shrapnel in their tibia
- One 4 year old child in shock after a grenade explosion
- 2 people with random injuries I also brought 2 people in state of shock to the emergency room who were not admitted.

Thank you to the hospital administrators who gave me a rolling stretcher to use for the demo.

Us the medic team, we treated around 50 wounded people, 13 who were hit in the face by rubber bullets, 4 hematomas to the eye, 2 eyebrow/foreheads opened up, facial hemmoraging, bleeding from the ears, fractured noses, and several skull injuries. Also there were several people who took rubber bullets in the abdomen and legs, and a broken finger. As well there were 2 people burned by pepper spray, 3 disoriented by concussion grenades, and some hit by police batons. At least 4 people were handed over to the firefighters, and the journalist from Rennes TV who got grenade shrapnel in his legs. See here: For the moment I have counted: a broken ankle from a rubber bullet (direct testimony) a broken nose (seen in a photo) a jaw or a nose fractured by a rubber bullet (seen myself) a lost eye (quentin who made an audio testimony) a cheek torn apart by grenade shrapnel (nico who testifies on indymedia nantes) the back of a skull dented by a rubber bullet an arm hit by a rubber bullet (testimony from a medic) an unconscious girl that I saw evacuated (injury unknown) a scalp opened by a baton (seen myself)