Demonstrations in Paris: “It was a stupid reflex, I never burned anything in my life”

IHands crossed on the railing of the dock, they patiently wait. With their look of the 1970s, you would think they came from another era. This Monday, after two nights spent at the station, Edwige and Jonathan, 20, appear before the 23e chamber of the Paris Criminal Court for “degradation or deterioration of the property of others by a means dangerous for people”.

These students are accused of setting fire to a garbage can and then fanning it. They are among the 122 people arrested in Paris, Saturday, March 18, during demonstrations against the pension reform and against the use of 49.3.

Philo in Nanterre

In room 6.01, after having heard a heavy case of pimping, we discover the journey of these two young idealists and college comrades, a journey that clashes in immediate appearance. These “young people”, as the president points out, a bit disappointed, are “perfectly integrated”. She, very frail, floating in a second-hand leather jacket, black hair and painted fingernails, is in her third year of a philosophy degree at Nanterre.

READ ALSO“Real violence is contempt”: in Rennes, 49.3 set the city on fireOriginally from Bordeaux, Edwige is destined for teaching. The young woman is a waitress on weekends and gives piano lessons to pay the rent for her Paris apartment, which she shares with her boyfriend. But, before that, her life was not so “simple”, specifies the president.

Her father was convicted of domestic violence, we understand that the relationship with her mother was complicated, the young woman is followed psychiatrically, “for schizophrenia” informs the court. “My goal is to have the capes next year, and a peaceful life, above all! pleads Edwige, her voice steady and her bearing haughty, which contrasts with her childish face.

He, a false air of John Lennon, long hair, small round glasses and pie shovel collar, is also known to have had psychiatric difficulties: bipolarity and addictive behavior. After a BTS in computer science in the provinces, Jonathan, who lives near Saint-Germain-en-Laye, is starting his first year of philosophy in Nanterre and is aiming for the aggregation.

“It makes you think about the future”

How did these two students, with no criminal record, end up in the dock after forty-eight hours in police custody? At 10:06 p.m. on Saturday, they were near the Fontaine des Innocents (Paris 1er). It was the end of a demonstration against the pension reform and the use of 49.3, Edwige and Jonathan were at the end of the procession. The latter defends himself: “All the others fled the CRS who were arriving; we just got sideways. Both lights were already on. »

This is not the version of the policeman, who says he saw the young woman with a lighter and a piece of paper set fire to it and the young man fanned it. The flames are large enough to require the intervention of firefighters. The prosecutor wonders why they did that, in the middle of trees and people. “It leaves you wondering about the future and the other events,” she comments before requiring one hundred and forty hours of community service (TIG).

I didn’t quite understand why you put stuff in the trash.The president of the court

Defense lawyer Marion Berthe acknowledges that her client did indeed throw an object into the trash but that the latter was already on fire before her arrival. To support her point, she cites the report of the policeman, the only witness to the scene, who states that an individual “in a gray hood” lit the fire. But his customers don’t have a hood…

For the president, who viewed the video surveillance images of the evening, there is no doubt: “We see that it is not you who set the fire. Then you put cups in the trash… Well, here’s what we have. I didn’t quite understand why you put stuff in the trash. »

Edwige tries to explain her gesture: “I think I just took something like that to fill the void, it wasn’t thought out or meditated on. It was just a silly reflex, she admits. I’ve never burned anything in my life. The two students are relaxed. Edwige remains speechless at the announcement of the verdict.

A few hours earlier, in front of the same court, another student, Pierre, 19, was tried for having set fire to a trash can, place d’Italie (Paris 13e), last Saturday. The young man, in a hoodie and tow hair, admitted to having pushed a trash can into an already existing fire. It was his first manifestation, he was “a bit elated” after drinking a beer. His exaltation will earn him seventy hours of TIG.

“We will fill the prisons”

In room 6.04, also dedicated to immediate appearances, it is Guillaume’s turn to appear just after a case of domestic violence. At 24, he is accused, among other facts, of contempt of an officer and rebellion. This chef would have, on March 17, called the police “band of jesters” before violently resisting and struggling – resulting in three days of temporary incapacity for work (ITT)). The defendant, whose record already includes a mention – rehabilitated, according to his lawyer –, asks for a delay to ensure his defense.

In the meantime, the president looks back on his journey. Kicked out of his home by his father at the age of 18 and without news from his mother, he must justify his absence of a fixed address in Paris. A seasonal worker for a long time, he explains that he “moved all over France” before obtaining his first permanent job as a chef in a restaurant in the north of Paris.

READ ALSOBefore the National Court of Asylum, dramas, hopes and angerA regular cannabis user, he has been convicted in the past of providing imaginary identity and rebellion. The prosecutor asks for his placement in pre-trial detention because of his “situation of wandering”, fearing that he will not represent himself during his next judgment.

His lawyer protests against “grotesque requisitions”: “There have been more than 400 police custody in recent days, we are going to fill the prisons now after having filled the police stations! “And to take on board the demands of the Syndicate of the judiciary which hammers, in a press release of March 20, that “the judicial authority is not at the service of the repression of the social movement”. The president recalls that the court is made up of “independent magistrates who do not judge according to pressures, whatever they may be”.

“Son to Macron”

Jessy, in her thirties, appears in the cubicle with a bandage on her forehead. This interim driver is accused of contempt, violence and racist insults against a police officer. His lawyer, Thomas Vanzetto, who recognizes a “conflictual relationship with the authority” of his client, denounces an irregular procedure. Jessy, goatee and black sweatshirt, would have found himself in the demonstration, Saturday evening, a little by chance.

“Basically, I’m not a protester,” he swears. I went to join a friend in Place d’Italie and, when I saw the CRS arrive, that’s when I understood. We got stuck despite ourselves. […] I remember telling that CRS to stop pushing me, then I pushed his shield. »

It was not me, with my small hands, who could break the helmet of a CRS!A defendant

The president asks him: “Did you break the visor of his helmet?”

– It’s not me, with my small hands, who could break the helmet of a CRS! If it was, I’d have marks on my hands [il les montre à la cour].

– Did you say you were hit by a “nigger”?

– All this was invented, I am neither racist nor homophobic! This procedure was invented to justify the beating of the CRS. »

A judge asks: “Is there a photo of the helmet in the procedure? Answer: “No. »

On a video extract, that Point viewed, we see a man, in the crowd, pushing the shield of a CRS with his hands and the latter retaliating by hitting him on the head with a truncheon. He then appears in front of the camera with his forehead in blood. An injury that resulted in three days of ITT for the defendant.

The prosecutor adds that incriminating elements were found in Jessy’s phone. He was filming the CRS with comments like this: “So where are Macron’s sons? “, “There, they laugh a lot to put blows of gas; when they burn with a Molotov cocktail, they laugh less”.

“I was gassed several times, I was disgusted and… a little bit angry. I was stupid, yes. His judgment is postponed until April.

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