A photo of a policeman who makes use of his tear gas canister is circulating online. A figure above an image used by the extreme-right where we can see in addition to testicles a blue-white-red design: “This year give balls to the French”.
Your question concerns the post on a Yellow Vests Facebook page that has been shared several hundred times. It consists of three images: the first is a wide shot. We see a policeman in a regular helmet and balaclava with his tear gas canister aimed at the back of a shirtless man who is giving the middle finger (we will return later to the identity of the latter).
According to the caption that accompanies it, this picture was taken in Nantes on August 3rd, during the demonstration against police violence. But a detail has not gone unnoticed: zooming in on the policeman’s weapon, we see a sticker. “This year give balls to the French”, says the text that surrounds the design of a pair of testicles in national colours.
This photo is very real. It was taken by the Parisian photographer Serge d’Ignazio, who posted the black and white snapshot on the Flickr image sharing network. From the metadata provided on the site it can be seen that the photo was taken on August 3rd at 3:18 pm, which is confirmed by its author.
Contacted by CheckNews, the photographer explains how his photo was found, in colour, on Facebook, and shared by Yellow Vests: “I sent this photo to my contacts, by mail. Among them, there are Yellow Vests that have been able to spread it”. Adding: “Normally, I work in black and white, but it was justified to send it in colour, to bring out the red-white-blue sticker on the tear gas canister”.
“The little French girl is rebelling”
We’ve covered the context. Now let’s look at the message, which invites to give “balls” to the French. Originally, the drawing did not concern France. He is Serge Ferrand, notably the author of the anti-feminist comics Vaginocrates.
Signed by Ferrand and dated 2002, the drawing is then endowed with a red-white-blue border. But there is still no mention of the French. In 2016, we find the slightly modified and colourful design on the website of the South Fire Brigade Union of Loire-Atlantique. It illustrates a paper titled “This year, give balls to Sdis 44”. Or at least, they illustrated it, because the drawing seems to have disappeared from this website today (it is not present in the article when it is opened).
On the tear gas canister of the policeman of Nantes, we thus find two new elements (in addition to the border): the mention “to the French” and the colouring of the testicles in blue-white-red. If it is not visible on the photo of the tear gas taken on August 3rd, the visual thus modified and circulating online is credited to “The little female French rebel”, as is noted on the Yellow Vests page that shared it.
This credit image is mostly shared, for several years, on the extreme-right of social networks. Here in response to a tweet from Boris Le Lay, militant and ultra-nationalist blogger. There by a member of Herault whose online stances flirt with xenophobia, according to screenshots made by the local section of the New Anti-capitalist Party. The article of the blog of the local NAP dating from December 2015, we know that the drawing modified by “The little female French rebel” appeared more than three years ago.
Finally, who is “The little female French rebel”? It seems that the Facebook page originally bearing this name was removed. Another succeeded it but no longer seems active today, “The little female French rebel” (with a different spelling of ‘rebel’ ). Virulent towards the Socialist Party, the page also published content supporting Marine Le Pen or Generation Identity, or xenophobic and Islamophobic. Same atmosphere on the YouTube channel “The little female French rebel”, which published three videos three years ago, against Islam, the media, and Francois Hollande.
Who is the man who gives the middle finger?
Contacted, the prefecture of Loire-Atlantique sent us back to the information and communication service of the National Police (Sicop) which has not, for the time being, responded.
In May 2018 CheckNews had already discussed a relatively similar controversy, when a CRS officer was wearing, this time on his outfit, an extreme right badge. The Ministry of the Interior explained then that the regulations of the national police prohibit “the wearing on uniforms of any element, sign, or insignia, in connection with belonging to a political organisation, trade union, denominational or associative”.
Last point: the man who can be seen shirtless and with his back facing the policeman is well known to CheckNews readers: it’s the same man (the same haircut, the same shirt tied around of the neck, the same glasses on the head, the same colour of shoe soles) who was the victim on August 3rd in Nantes of a violent arrest by a man from the BAC. In the photograph, which has become famous since then, taken by photographer Basz, he was seen stamped on the ground by a masked policeman, hooded and armed, his hand clasped around the neck of the man on the ground. While the tear gas was smoking a few inches from his face. Bruno Kaïk, 51, has since announced to CheckNews his willingness to file a complaint, while the police say that this arrest followed a glass bottle thrown towards the police.