Last updated on 28th July 2019
On the eve of Act 22, in Nantes, while the Yellow Vests were organising a workshop of banners and posters for the demonstration on Saturday, 15 of them were arrested, and 14 of them were placed in custody. Preventive arrests with the clear purpose of preventing them from demonstrating. In the context of repression, these arrests may seem innocuous or trivialised. But these are to be taken very seriously and say a lot about the danger represented by the “anti-breaker” law promulgated this week, with regard to the entire social movement.
14 Gardes à vue pour un atelier banderole la veille de l’#acteXXII à #Nantes— K69sknk (@K69sknk) April 12, 2019
3 Véhicules de la BAC et agents cynophile et la commissaire Nathalie Frêche sur place
Tout est normal en Macronie@davduf pic.twitter.com/YrktEv3KNP
Act 22 was the first day of the mobilisation of the Yellow Vests since the enactment of the “anti-breaker” law, which is a part of the freedom-killing and repressive move adopted by the government in recent weeks. An act under the sign of repression, with its epicenter in Toulouse, where the protesters were subjected to unprecedented repression, with the clear purpose of preventing them from demonstrating.
This repression was accompanied upstream by preventive arrests, which are not new but which take a more and more important and worrying turn from the point of view of our right to protest. In Nantes, on Friday afternoon, at around 15:00, while a banner workshop was organised for Act 22, 15 Yellow Vests who were participating in it were arrested, and 14 were placed in custody – which lasted 24 hours. A wheelchair user was released in the evening.
The justification of these arrests: “participation in a group with a view to committing acts of degradation and violence”. A completely unfounded and invented motive. The bitter taste of the role played by the “anti-breaker” law in the repression of activists and social movements.
One participant, Fleur, present at this workshop for making banners and posters, testified in an article for France 3 Regions: “When I arrived, there were several police cars, a police van, and many policemen. some in uniform and some in plain clothes. It looked like an anti-crime operation. There was even a dog in one of the vehicles, even though they were not let loose. The apparatus was very striking”. “They surrounded everyone. They checked identities, they took individual photos. One after the other. It was very humiliating for them,” she continued.
The other interviewed activists considered that the police apparatus was “totally disproportionate”, denouncing, legitimately, “an obstacle placed in front of participation in this Saturday’s demonstration”.
A support rally in front of the police station to demand their release was organised by the latter.
#Nantes. « Libérez nos camarades ». Des manifestants bloqués à plusieurs centaines de mètres du commissariat où ils voulaient aller pour exiger la libération des 14 personnes interpellées hier soir pic.twitter.com/U1HAmgmJOd— JFMartin (@JFrancoisMartin) April 13, 2019
Faced with these intimidation attempts and this policy of terror led by the government through its armed wing, collective response and self-organisation are very positive and central reactions to pursue. Moreover, this umpteenth case of repression did not taint the determination of the Yellow Vests present who, in their testimony, said that it will not prevent them from demonstrating this Saturday.
The 14 activists who were arrested and placed in custody were released this Saturday in the afternoon.
These arrests and detentions may seem anecdotal, in a context where preventive arrests have been used several times since the beginning of the mobilisation of the Yellow Vests. But these arrests, which are part of the enactment of the “anti-breaker” law, are to be taken very seriously and reflect the unprecedented attack that is currently underway on the whole of the social movement, against the democratic rights that we acquired in the past, against the right to protest, against the right to express one’s opposition to the policies pursued by the government and the current system. And these arrests, put in place to prevent the Yellow Vests from going to protest during Act 22, testify once again that in reality, through the “anti-breaker” law, it is not only the “Black Bloc” activists who are targeted, but also – and of course – the Yellow Vests and the whole social movement.