Mobilised at Quai Wilson, Nantes, on the night of the Music Festival, civil protection agents deliver their truths about the police’s intervention, which they consider to have been “totally disproportionate”.
Key witnesses of the night of the Music Festival, they transmitted their testimonies to the Inspectorate General of the National Police (IGPN), as they were asked. But these emergency rescue workers feel that their critical observations have been ignored. And this, they emphasise, while their “discernment” was “total. Of course, we obviously didn’t drink anything or take any drugs”. Hence the feeling of anger that springs forth and the “need to speak”. “That night, there was an injustice, something happened that is not normal,” said, carefully, this aid worker, whose team of four was “summoned at 4:13 am to intervene with a person in distress within 100 meters of the bunker” at Quai Wilson, the site where a mixer re-played the sound that triggered the police operation.
“We were in the festive norm”
There is no question of letting it be said that there was no crowd movement, as was stated by the police of the police [IGPN – ed] in its administrative investigation, before concluding that there was no link between the police operation being carried out at Quai Wilson, in the night of June 21st, and the disappearance of Steve Maia Caniço, the young man found in the Loire on July 30th after more than 5 weeks of searching. “I do not know what the IGPN’s definition of crowd movement is, but I would like to understand,” says the rescuer. “If a large number of people are quickly fleeing a cloud of tear gas, then yes, there was one.”
He assures that at 4:13 am, when he arrived at the victim’s location, the situation was “very calm. There were alcoholic people and probably some of them had taken substances but nothing fancy compared to what we usually see at festivals. Let’s say we were in the festive norm. The sound was not at an incredible level because between rescuers, we spoke without shouting. We did not see any police officers at that time. And then there was the first tear gas that stung the nose. The victim was assessed at 4:25. Suddenly, a second salvo was fired. The cloud was very very impressive. And we lost visibility. Like when things detonate during the big demonstrations in the city center of Nantes.”
“Inappropriate operation, disproportionate intervention”
A colleague mentions “an impressive panic movement” and says: “There were explosions. People were screaming and running disoriented. Some voices said there were people in the water. Some of us approached the Quai and saw people drifting”. One of the rescuers says: “I saw two floating forms go by. Help was called for immediately. I tried to follow them but the current was such that they left the beam of my torch. I do not know what happened to them.”
“Seeing bodies left to their own devices, exposed to a danger of death and only being able to call for the appropriate help is terrible,” says a colleague. “It does not leave me”. “I’m the last to spit on the police, they do a job that is not easy,” said a teammate. “But in my opinion, the operation was not appropriate. The intervention seems to me to be totally disproportionate. Such a deployment of grenades just for music, in a sector without housing, seems incredible to me. Especially since in other years the sound system continued after 5 o’clock in the morning.”
“I thought the car was exploding”
These rescuers say they only saw the police when they were evacuating the wounded into their ambulance, parked in front of Guyane Street. “What looked like a dispersal grenade exploded under the car,” they report. “I will remember it for the rest of my life, I thought the car was exploding”.
Contacted, the central management of the National Police is limited to this response, via its communication service: “All reports sent by the Civil Protection are included in the administrative investigation and the Prime Minister took note. If these people want to supplement it, they can do it as a part of the judicial investigation.”