Last updated on 28th July 2019
The IGPN gave its report via the voice of Brigitte Jullien on the case of the raid of the 151 secondary school students of Mantes-la-Jolie last December while many high schools were involved in the mobilisation against the reform of baccalauréat and against Parcoursup, also fraternising in part with the movement of Yellow Vests. The police who brutally arrested 151 youths then forcibly kept them on their knees and with their hands on their heads for hours. Whitewashed by the IGPN enquiry, these methods are obviously not abnormal for it.
In these times of repression and judicial and administrative relentlessness against those who dare to raise their heads, the decision of the IGPN is hardly surprising. For the past 6 months, none of the hundreds of complaints filed by demonstrators who have been victims of police violence has been successful and no police officer is currently suspended.
The repression did not spare the secondary school students, two of them, as we recall, suffered severe facial mutilations after LBDs were fired. In this context, the case of the roundup of Mantes-la-Jolie, which hit the headlines due to both its violent and openly humiliating character (the policeman who filmed allowed himself to insultingly comment on what was happening), was remarkable. Complaints have since been filed by several secondary school students who have not even been interviewed. The IGPN nevertheless decided to exonerate the police, considering that “there was no fault (…) nor deviating behaviour on the part of the police”.
Just as the state does not seem to consider that the fact that some protesters find themselves in police custody for an inscription on a sign may constitute any kind of abuse, and that the police may question young people as if they were prisoners of war, so too does the fact that the police may arrest young people as if they were prisoners of war.
The social martyr of the popular youth
This case is also an expression of the treatment that the French police reserve for young people from lower-income neighbourhoods. If the state feels right when it keeps young people between the ages of 12 and 21 in a painful and humiliating position, forcing them to put their hands on their heads as if they were likely to use a weapon, it is because its has been practicing impunity for decades with his violence in so-called “sensitive” neighbourhoods.
Brigitte Jullien, who was appointed as the director of the IGPN in December 2018, i.e., during the Yellow Vests and secondary school student movement, is also a recognised specialist in policing in neighbourhoods, enough to leave the police present at Mantes that day the hope of finding a listening, if not complicit, ear. In particular, she was in charge of suppressing popular revolts, as Departmental Director of Public Security and Central Commissioner, in Pau then in Grenoble from 2003 to 2011. No doubt that in her eyes, therefore, the young people of Mantes-la-jolie did not suffer any abuse of power or force.
Presumed to be guilty and dangerous, it is the social origin of these young people that justified this method of interpellation, which is a scandal and an insult made to our entire class. The outrage aroused is the mark of a spirit of solidarity and class that bodes well for the future and that we must cultivate in order to continue fighting everywhere and to obtain justice.
Jean Beide, Revolution Permanente