Last updated on 28th July 2019
The offence of concealing one’s face during a demonstration, searches of bags and vehicles in the vicinity of routes on the requisition of the prosecutor… etc.
Okay, but what does this concretely change? To be honest, not much!
We have become accustomed since time, from the state of emergency to the new laws that bloom with social movements, there is an undeniable inflation of security laws in recent years … and yet the mobilisations resume more beautiful.
So yes, the repression is stronger, but over the years our practices have adapted in order to escape and to continue the fight. This experience we must share and spread more widely, our practices must be known and taken up by the entire social movement. We try on this page – Rennes DTR – to share some of them.
Thus, being indignant at the repressive arsenal without having a critical and rational retreat only adds to the anxiety-provoking climate that reigns around the demonstrations and actions. In the long run we are losing out.
So beyond the cries of indignation, how can we analyse and understand this law?
The government is caught between the pressure of the street and its own camp.
Indeed, it is the presidential majority that has partly cracked under the scrutiny of this law – the political rebels of “LREM“ represent these petty bourgeois who refuse to bear the responsibility for the authoritarian excesses of the regime – and the undermining of their liberal principles.
So anxious to preserve his majority, Macron had to fortify himself by going so far as to take his case to the Constitutional Council (a first!) to wash his hands of it … and to prepare the ground for the future. Macron knows that he can not bear responsibility for this change in constitutional principles (partially validated by the Council last week, see previous article) alone. Aware of not being able to harden at once the repressive arsenal to crush the mobilisation, he leads a race against the clock. Other laws of this kind will come, and there is no doubt that the provisions of Article 3 on the prohibition of demonstrations will come back into the debate, as well as several other new administrative powers granted to the prefects.
So in the meantime the government has to work through penal code tinkering and announcement effects.
The concealment of one’s face constitutes a crime (one more added to the 8000 already in the penal code!), For the rest, the law clarifies what was already more or less effective in reality but questionable in court.
SO HOW DO WE BREAK THIS NEW LAW TODAY?
1. IN OUR ASSEMBLIES: We must collectively and publicly make the recommendation to come covered to demonstrations, not only to protect ourselves (gas, flash ball …) but also in solidarity with the rest of the procession and as a symbol of the security drift. The more we are, the more we will render this new offence inoperable.
The assemblies calling and recommending to come masked to a demonstration means to guarantee to those who find themselves judged before the courts to be able to use it as an argument to justify not an individual decision, but a collective one.
2. BEFORE THE COURTS:
[It is an offence to] wilfully conceal all or part of one’s face WITHOUT LEGITIMATE REASON
Article 6 is subject to interpretation. What is a legitimate reason? This is the question we will have to raise before the judges. This is a fight that we will have to conduct at each hearing, at every appeal, because we know the answer and it must become a truth in the courts. Protecting yourself from flash balls, gas, and fire by covering your face and wearing glasses is a legitimate reason for continuing to exercise your right to protest. Period.
3. IN OUR PROCESSIONS: More than ever, we must stand together in our processions, keep the cops at a distance, stay together, and decide that no one should be left at the mercy of a targeted arrest.
4. IN OUR ENTOURAGE AND OUR NETWORKS: This law seeks also and especially to make the simple participation in a demonstration perilous in order to discourage the greatest number of people from mobilising… Hence the need to not nourish this propaganda and this anxiety-provoking climate. They want us to bow our heads and submit, instead of mobilising ourselves!
So for all the next acts, COME OUT COVERED!
“The closer I get to the summit, the more I hear the roaring sky …”
This famous law can be read here.