The prosecutor consistently requested jail time, stating outright that an example should be set: “It is important that the accused and the other people in the courtroom all understand that these are serious charges and that the court has the intention of giving out heavy penalties…” Several times (and not only in this courtroom, it seems) the mere fact of having been in the street served as evidence against the accused. Anonymous denunciation was used as evidence for, according to the prosecutor, in this community “the population is afraid of reprisals.” Here was the tough stance called for by [Justice Minister] Clement :
- 6 months suspended sentence for a student arrested in Montreuil, who admitted throwing a rock at a motorcycle cop after having been tear gassed on his way home. He was all beat up: a broken nose and bruises all over his face.
- 2 months jail time for a student who allegedly turned over a sports car in Montreuil. He was picked up along with a minor out of a larger group fleeing the police; the minor confessed, and so confession is contagious.
- A young man arrested outside his home in Blanc-Mesnil, who allegedly smashed up some trucks belonging to a business on the street, he was ordered kept detained. They could not show that it was him but there was nothing to be done, even though his family was there. What’s moe he denied everything and the testimony of people who worked at the business in question was contradictory, many of them could not identify him.
- Four months jail time for having allegedly set fire to a garbage can.
- A young many was officially identified by a police patrol as having thrown a bottle at their car, breaking the windshield – according to their notes this happened at 6pm. Two hours later they claim they spotted the young man in question and brought him in. Then, according to their testimony, he was surrounded by his friends and this led to a fight in which a window was broken. It turns out that this young man was working at 6pm according to testimony from his boss and that the attack in question amounted to two of his friends who brought him a sandwich! He is acquitted for having thrown the bottle, but gets 1 month jail time for breaking the window.
- In Villemomble the police identify a young man with a baseball cap in the middle of the night when he allegedly throws a rock which does not hit them (he must have been really far away). They fire back twice with their flash-balls [a gun that fires rubber bullets] and then go and get the young man. It turns out that he has to be treated for a dislocated shoulder, but who cares: three months, two of which are suspended. The main thing that aggravated his situation, as both the prosecutor and judge repeated several times, was that he did not want to give the name of his friend where he was spending the night.
- The last guy was from Aulnay, and he had the strange habit of keeping the following in the trunk of his car : a rag (oh no!), an empty container in case he ran out of gas (I swear, they went on about this for an hour!), and another container which (I am quoting the police notes): “was half full of a blue liquid on which was a label that read ‘coolant’”, and then one with (horror of horrors!) “a clear odourless liquid that we were not able to identify,” all of which was in the notes that were obviously taken by a cop who does not put a lot of water in his booze! In short, the investigators felt that all of this confirmed the anonymous testimony that someone with a similar car was selling gas to neighbourhood kids… All of which they said without cracking a smile! He managed to get released…
What I heard in the hallways :
- A young man was picked up in the streets where some molotov cocktails had been thrown earlier. He claimed he had not been there at the time. He has no gas on his hands or on his clothes, just on his shoes as must have also been the case with the cops who picked him up because the street had been full of it: he gets 10 months, 6 of which are suspended. And the courtroom was cleared as it was felt to be too rowdy.
In Montreuil an young man was picked up at his parents home early in the morning. He was accused of turning over a car the night before. His older brothers were worried he would be cold, and wanted him to take a pull-over with him [when he war arrested]: one got a broken hand and 3 weeks ITT [not sure how to translate this – it obviously is some kind of time in medical care], the other got 4 days ITT; everyone was outraged and indignant! Finally, after several hours, the first brother was acquitted: it turns out it was not him who turned over the car! Their father got to take two of his sons home, though they are also charged with contempt, the son who is the most badly beaten was kept detained but i am not sure why. They are supposed to show up today at 1:30pm. But the cops were not finished with them and so this morning the cops - from Bobigny this time – came to get the first son for a new car that he is accused of having smashed up as he left the courthouse (when his father was bringing him home). I left before this came before the court, the lawyer has some questions, perhaps i will have more information later…
- rossalinda (posted to Indymedia Paris)
Please note that the above text about the court appearances of people arrested during the past twelve days riots comes from the Indymedia Paris website and was translated by yours truly. I have a “fast and loose” translation philosophy, meaning that when there is a choice between readability and the original phraseology i tend to favour the former, provided that the meaning stays the same. I felt this was an important text as it gives the first indication of how the repression is actually playing out in the working class and immigrant areas affected by the rebellion. Unfortunately, it was written with a lot of slang and with terms and spellings that were not the usual, so it was difficult to translate, though i believe i got the meaning of everything correct The original document can be seen in French.
A few points can be ascertained from this report:
- All of the people arrested who this writer saw in court were men – which makes me wonder where are the women who live in these neighbourhoods? What is their perspective on this rebellion?
- Arrests seem arbitrary and unrelated to what one may or may not have actually done. Just a matter of being on the street at the time that the police decide they want to make an arrest. Police making up stories and passing it off as “anonymous testimony of people afraid to come forward.”
- Gratuitous police violence is an essential feature of what it means to “be arrested”
- Though one may be acquitted of the charges for which one was arrested, one may end up doing time for what happens after one is arrested – allegedly breaking a window, or not giving information, or giving your brother a sweater.
All of the above is very true for “normal” interactions with the police, and not only in France, so one imagines that much of this is simply the intensification of the same old daily shit.
Unfortunately, “Rossalinda” does not give many details about the people arrested, beyond that some of them were students. One imagines, given the description that has been given of Bobigny, that most of these men are from immigrant communities, and that this plays a role in who gets arbitrarily picked up. But this is conjecture, as such details were not included in the Indymedia posting…
Note that i am translating this as i have not been able to find any radical accounts of the riots or the police racism that provoked them in English… i do not necessarily agree with the author’s point of view, nor do they necessarily agree with mine. Si quelqu’un a un meilleur texte à suggérer, svp envoyez-moi le!
For background to the riots, including a timeline, check out the Wikipedia entry.
Categories: clichy-sous-bois, france, prison, repression, riot, translation,