Last updated on 28th July 2019
For more than six months, the demonstrations of the Yellow Vests have started well before the appointment time: identity checks, preventive arrests, anxiety-inducing communication, and municipal decrees prepare their repressive grounds.
This was also the case on February 2nd, the day of act 12, when R. [name changed for security reasons – ed] was searched near the place of the demonstration in Toulouse: the intention to go there or not does not matter, the prefectural decree authorises checks and searches in the perimeter. R. ends up in custody, then in prison for “criminal association”. He has since been held in custody for almost four months.
Here justice does not care about facts or associates: the evidence is a few keys in his possession: an allen, one for a mailbox, a torx, and a supposed belonging to an anarchist and/or “ultra-left” movement. We understand then that it is roughly all of the events of recent months that they try to impute to him: cops, prosecutors, and judges have here an ideal scapegoat.
Especially since the crime of “criminal conspiracy” makes it possible to extend the means of surveillance and investigation available to the gendarmes. In Toulouse, it is in this context that several investigations were launched concerning the Yellow Vest movement.
While the state – whose legitimacy will soon be based only on the violence of repression – staggers, it attacks its opponents. Many of the qualifiers of the movement come out in the media little by little. Depending on the week, it is either a movement led by the “ultra-right”, or a momentum surrounded by the “ultra-left”, or a landmark of professional breakers, sometimes all at the same time. The purpose of this manoeuvre? Discredit awareness of the revolutionary significance of a broad, multiple, diverse, and united movement. Discredit by insinuating that Yellow Vests are manipulated, too idiotic to know when, why, and how to fight. Using labels, the government tries to name something that escapes it in order to divide people who do not recognise themselves in these empty categories.
Indeed, this force that has been rising for almost six months now can only exist for the government as an ultra practice, as political manipulation. It cannot admit that a growing part of the population wants its fall, dreams of a revolution, determined to make it happen. The crowds on the Champs Elysees on Saturday, March 16th, are an eloquent example. There are no breakers or ultra-left, there is a crowd determined to bring down the regime.
And it must be admitted, if dreaming of a life free from the constraints of capitalism and the state makes us malefactors, criminals, or bandits, then we are; if what we are reproached for are agreements, complicities, or associations, then we claim them proudly.
We live together, build bonds and friendships, we organise for, at the height of our means, counter the disaster facing the current world. We read, write, and distribute books, newspapers, leaflets, and pamphlets, participate in social struggles, reflect together on the state of the world around us and how to hasten its downfall. We meet other revolts, build our own tools of communication and organisation, build solidarity far from the alienated dailies that liberal democracies assign to us.
And that’s what we are criticised for.
Since the beginning of this movement, several homes, places of life, passage, and reception have been the target of searches, sometimes conducted under this charge of “criminal conspiracy”. We will not dwell on the violence of a sudden awakening at dawn, robbed by hooded police, or the material losses it induces; nor on the hours of hearings in police custody, the psychological pressures, the insidious questions they can ask. Burglary and hostage-taking are the weapons that the government deploys to muzzle, intimidate, and break down dynamics. These operations are far from involving only the people who directly pay for them. The strategy is well known: to hit one in order to scare a hundred. It is quite a movement that, behind these grotesque manoeuvres, is in fact attacked. Antagonist movements, the movement of Yellow Vests, those who struggle, taking streets and roundabouts every week. These voices and bodies that can no longer bend their backs in the face of bullying, contempt, daily exploitation, boredom, violence, and the ongoing disaster. Those voices and bodies that will no longer be silent, that will no longer be buried.
For R. and his friends, like for all the others, the sentence is already being applied. Every day, every week, every month that passes, the number of hostages that the state makes among those who resist it increases. In Toulouse alone, dozens of Yellow Vests have known the high walls of Seysses. The prisons are packed, so it is planned to build new ones.
Distributing sentences with a shovel, the justice system thus reveals its true nature: it is only one more instrument in the hands of the powerful ones, whose function is clear: to do everything so that nothing changes, to guarantee the established order and its privileged. The violence that is today deployed by the government to defend itself reveals the brutality we experience on a daily basis: scorn, exploitation, shitty jobs, excessive rents, loans for living, and vice versa.
These are the conditions of existence concerning which we are tens of thousands to shout our fury. And for those who exploit us, there is no question of ceding, they have a world of privileges to defend, they make their butter on our backs and have police and legal weapons to continue to do so. We have our bonds and our gatherings, our desires for freedom, our bodies and our voices.
We will not give in to terror; whatever Macron and those he defends, whatever the people who defend him may say. They forbid demonstrations, threaten to send the troops, wound, beat up, imprison, but we will not bend; despite the intimidation, these measures only increase anger. The offensive is important and we cannot let it go. It is now the very possibility of demonstrating that is under attack. Faced with this banalisation and this hardening of repression, in the street as in the courts, the fight strengthens, the solidarity multiplies.
On May 17th [monitor Stalker Zone for news – ed] there will be a hearing on the renewal of the detention of R. Do not leave him to be alone.
We therefore call on all the people and groups affected by the situation to support R. and all prisoners, to relay this call, to show solidarity, with the practices which are theirs.
The justice system only does its dirty work, but we intend to fight it and not reform it.
Freedom for all,
People close to R.