Lyon (Rhône), special correspondent.
They are aptly named, the slopes of Croix-Rousse. Just like the rise of the Grande-Côte, one of the many picturesque pedestrian paths that connect the “Working hill” in the Terreaux district, one of the heart of the city center of the capital of Gaul. In Lyon, there are two hills, “The one who works”, therefore, and “The one who prays, Fourvière”, details maliciously Aline Guitard, the departmental secretary of the PCF, who is waiting for us in front of her room. Located at the crossroads of this famous climb and rue Imbert-Colomès, it is in poor condition: open to the four winds, the windows broken. Inside, more shards of glass and a small electric heater that would hardly heat the place. Better to keep your coat. “We are waiting for repairs, the green light from insurance”, explains Aline Guitard, who makes good heart against bad luck. Bad fortune is “Seven attacks in eighteen months, including three times the windows broken”, she specifies. Acts of vandalism which bear an obvious mark, despite the absence of an official claim: that of the extreme right. Only once, the police got their hands on the perpetrators of one of these violent degradations, that of 2018: three young people from the upper middle class of Lyon, Aubert Michon du Marais, Octave Ferrand and Henri de La Chapelle, all three close. de l’Action Française, sentenced in 2019. “They weren’t very smart, they had stolen an iron bar from a nearby construction site, remembers Aline Guitard. This is what enabled the police to find them. But, the rest of the time, the investigations hardly ever succeed. “
Because, in Lyon, the attacks of the fascists are incessant. And it has been going on for years. The small groups are legion, targeting everything that stirs their hatred: the left, the unions, the migrants. But, on December 12, 2020, a new step was taken, still at Croix-Rousse: the anarchist bookstore La Plume Noire, on rue Diderot, was the scene of a physical attack. Julien, one of its founders, says: “It was after a day of solidarity collection of clothes and toys for Christmas, organized by a friendly association, the Pese (For social equality and ecology). Two young members of the association were tidying up at the end of the day. They got there at seven or eight, they walked past several times… So it was premeditated. “ The toll of the blows is heavy: two days of ITT for the first person and, for the second, three fractures to the face. An investigation has been opened.
The authorities seem to disregard this deleterious climate
The problem is, investigations rarely succeed. After the assault on the Black Plume, a rally was held on December 20 to protest against the violence of these small groups which are incessant today as their feeling of impunity is great. For several years, a collective against the extreme right has brought together political organizations, associations, unions … But the authorities seem to disregard this deleterious climate. Contacted, the departmental direction of public security did not wish to communicate on this subject, however hot. However “Croix-Rousse is a target”, analysis Marion Athiel, activist at Family Planning and within the Collective for vigilance and the fight against the extreme right. “They are carrying out targeted attacks, in demonstrations, on locals. ” The CNT was also a victim, just like, not far from there, Place Colbert, a bar which often hosted meetings or conferences of progressive activists. “It was called the Ant, then the Sweet Pint, details Marion Athiel. It has been ransacked and attacked several times. The owners threw in the towel… ” Same story for the Black Feather, which “Has existed for thirty years”, according to Julien, who recalls that “She was burned in 1997; vandalized by 25 people in 2016 ”. For him, “There are cycles of violence, and that corresponds to the opening of their premises”.
On September 12, 2020, the green mayor Gregory Doucet had no other choice but to authorize the reopening of the famous local identity building called La Traboule.
The stronghold of these fascist groups is Vieux-Lyon, at the foot of the Fourvière hill. This is where they have their “territory” and their locations. On September 12, 2020, the new ecological mayor Grégory Doucet had no other choice than to authorize the reopening of the famous local of identities named Traboule: the town hall does not have the power to close a place, outside only security conditions. And its occupants have carried out work to bring them up to standard … Since then, the reopening coincides precisely with the upsurge in attacks. “It is the premises that pose a problem, as we know, Julien points. It allows them to have a dynamic of meetings. “ For Aline Guitard also, these are the places that allow extremist militants to “Meet up, drink, warm up”, before going to commit their assaults. There is also the Agogé, a boxing hall … reserved for whites. “Six or seven years ago, he had up to seven premises”, remembers the communist activist.
A number of activists estimated at “around 400 people”
The small groups are very diverse: neofascists of the Social Bastion or of Generation Identity, often passed through the GUD, the royalists of the French Action or the traditionalist Cathos of Civitas … “It’s a microcosm, many come from the middle classes of the Lyonnais mountains, they have a lot of money”, details Marion Athiel. “The Social Bastion started from here, there is Benedetti (Yvan Benedetti, president of the neopetainist movement l’Oeuvre française – NDLR), Alexandre Gabriac with Civitas, the Alliance française, GI, Audace, Lyon pop…” A list far from exhaustive. A central figure is Damien Rieu, one of the founders of Génération Identitaire, figure of the fascosphere and parliamentary assistant to the MEP RN Philippe Olivier. Recently a new group has been created: “It’s a group of girls called Nemesis. They claim to be feminists. This is new and worrying ”, testifies Marion Athiel. A nebula that concerns beyond simple militant circles: in 2019, rebellious deputies obtained the creation of a parliamentary commission of inquiry on extreme right-wing groups. The report is final: Lyon is described there as the “Cradle” groups of “The French ultra-right”, and estimates the number of these activists at “About 400 people”.
Recently, the Collective for vigilance and the fight against the extreme right has changed its name to call itself “collective for the closure of fascist premises”. Because this is the objective of the activists, who expect a real response from the State – the prefecture, therefore, which has never expressed itself on the subject -, but also from the town hall. For all the activists who fight against the extreme right, the laissez-faire of the authorities is in question. “For years, the municipality has not positioned itself, deplores Marion Athiel. It sent back to back “the extremes”, during the Collomb era, but also before. “ With the new municipal team, that could change: the mayor of the 1st arrondissement, the rebellious Nathalie Perrin-Gilbert, came to the rally against the far right on December 20. And, according to Julien, the collective was received by an assistant to the Lyon town hall. Perhaps the beginning of a real consideration by the authorities. But, even with the best will in the world, it is up to the state to assume its responsibilities. Because, in Lyon, the extreme right is a gangrene.