This text is the introduction to a collection of texts about the case of the burned police car on the 18th of May 2016 in Paris. Amongst the people in prison, two of them were arrested at the end of May last year. They will soon appear in front of a judge deciding upon the prolongation, or not, of their preventive arrest.
March 2016, as a response to the announcement of another new law regulating the good workings of our exploitation, tens of thousands of people get into movement. Being one of the numerous expressions of this movement, the syndicalist demonstrations got out of control and the repression of these demos very fast became a point of focussing. The cops became one of the favourite target of the words and acts of the demonstrators, sometimes this became the goal of it all. However, it sparked beautiful acts of revolt. One of those acts, the burning of a cop car patrolling at the dock of Valmy in Paris has been filmed and highly mediatized. Various politicians and trade unions expressed themselves to demand the punishment of the guilty and the cops were asked to proceed towards rapid arrests. Repression didn’t get delayed.
On the 18th of May 2016, after more than two months of demos, square occupations, confrontations, attacks, the most reactionary amongst the cops decided to parade on the Republican Square, the same square on which they had impeached a permanent occupation, the square from which numerous demos and wild actions had departed, where they had received beautiful pavement stones into their face. A counter demo was called upon. After the attempt of disturbing the gathering, a wild demo takes place which crosses the path of a police car. It all happened really fast, a cone is thrown against the front window, the side windows are broken and the driver gets some punches. The cops try to leave but get blocked in traffic jam created by some barricades further down the road. So it goes that the car takes another plot in its window behind while another person throws a smoking bomb in the cabin. The driver gets out of the car, wards off the blows of a thin bar held by one of the demonstrators. The cops run away and a sign “roasted chicken (pigs SIC), free donation” is put in front of the burning car. The demo continues for some hundred meters more before dispersion.
Some hours later, as well as the day after, 5 people get arrested, some of them in their homes. One of them is released later on while the other four are put under investigation and jailed for some days before passing in front of a judge of freedom and detention (JFD). Two of them, accused of secondary roles, are let free under judicial control (JC) and are banned from the Parisian region. Another one of them is accused of having beaten the cop while he left the car and is put into preventive arrest. The last one, accused of giving blows to the driver and of having thrown the cone against the back window gets released under JC until the public prosecutor sends the person to jail nine days later.
May 26th, following a demo, a new person gets arrested and jailed. Having the American nationality, she is accused of having thrown the cone against the front window.
June 8th, a sixth person gets arrested after a demo and jailed. This person is accused of having beaten the cop when he came out of the car, which one of the first arrested person had been accused of before. That person, jailed since the 18th of May, gets released in the beginning of July under JC and is banned from the region.
October 5th, a seventh person is arrested in front of the house and released under JC, accused of having pointed out the car and of having kicked one of its tires.
February 7th 2017, an eight person is arrested, his home gets raided and he gets jailed. The person is accused of having broken the right back window of the car.
Beginning of March, convocations for being witness are sent to different persons that the police suspects having been present during the wild demo of the 18th of March 2016.
March 28th 2017, one of the first ones that got arrested is put free under JC after 10 months of prison and banned from Lille, as well as obliged to sign and continue his studies.
The end of March, a person of Swiss nationality gets convoked, accused of having thrown the smoke bomb.
The judge Lucie Berthezene has charged nine persons in total for “Attempted homicide at a person guardian of the public order, destruction of goods of others in organized gang with means bringing into danger persons, violence in organized gang with the use or the threat of using a weapon against a person guardian of the public order followed by a work incapacity of 8 days, participation in a crowd carrying a weapon while voluntarily masking the face with the aim of not getting identified, association of malefactors in order to commit crimes or offenses.”.
The cops of the second district of the judicial police of Paris, the ones from the cop station of Louis Blanc, charged with the investigation have made use of a big repressive pallet in order to put some presumed names on the masked burners of the chickens’ car. An anonymous testimony of a cop of the intelligence service, surveillance of phones (taps, localization and study of detailed bills of the accused and their family), analyze of silhouettes, use of videos (the ones of the cops, of you tube, of public transport in order to retrace a posterior the road taken by the individuals), house raids looking for precise personal objects, taking into custody and analyzing of hardware and phones, request for the code to unlock coded messages… as well as everything we still need to discover. Getting access to the file is complex and until the days of its closure, new paper can be added.
At the time we are printing this collection of texts, three persons are still in prison, two of them since the end of May 2016. Five others are outside under JC, four of them can’t enter the parisian region anymore. We don’t know what’s going on with the last one of the accused, the one accused of having thrown the smoke bomb.
The texts presented in this collection have been selected in a way not only to limit the repetitions in between them, but as well out of the will to carry a public voice in solidarity with the incriminated acts and against the repression that followed.
The questions of juridical defense, which can be expected once repression hits down on us, will not be treated here because they are not harmless nor neutral. The public discourses should not be the extension of the lawyers’ pleading but the continuation our ideas. This is what has guided our choice of texts: we didn’t chose texts putting forward the “respectable” profile of some of the accused or their support, nor the ones that insist on the presumption of innocence and focusing on the provisional detention even if we agree on the fact that it is a really hard punishment because we don’t know when or if we will be released. Moreover, if we don’t agree with the police thesis of attempted homicide, it seems to us less interesting to bring this discourse into the street than to stand in solidarity with the acts that talk to us, regardless of the juridical qualification. Guilty, condemned, innocent while awaiting trial, it doesn’t matter to us. Good “measures of detainment” don’t exist.
The situations and the defenses of the accused are different, even antithetical. Some of them have talked, others kept silent, regretted, excused themselves, have recognized themselves, have admitted their presence at the demo, have negated all, have admitted a part and negated the rest.
The possible exchange in between the accused and their close people has been slowed down by the fear of the police constructing an association of malefactors or an organized gang. On top of that, the handing over to the cops of a video incriminating some co-accused with the aim of clearing oneself, the publication in the press of some elements of the file in favour of some and to the disadvantage of others, the lack of consultation and the desire to get out one’s close people by all means necessary has made a collective defense impossible until now.
Without going to the hatch of the actions of each and everyone, close person or accused, this collection wants to be an invitation to discuss with cards on the table, with the optical of not digging each others grave, without any hope of a completely collective defense but with the will at least to make the information public and to not repeat the same mistakes. To carry a solidarity outside of the court and its deadly staging, against the notions of innocence, of guilt and justice. Because the act of burning a police car speaks to us, beyond the defense strategy of the ones being accused of it, an act which belongs to a movement, the one against the work-law, and more broader the movement of all of those that struggle against this world of authority, of cops and barbed wire.