There was something of the order of the improbable, this Saturday, November 21 on the Place du Trocadéro, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The place, already, is incongruous, more accustomed to serving as a backdrop to giant meetings of the right, from Nicolas Sarkozy to François Fillon, than to see trade unionists, yellow vests, elected officials and left activists. The terms of the demonstration were out of tune, then: authorized to meet, despite confinement, following a long standoff with the Paris prefecture, but forbidden to parade in the street, the crowd was overcome, forced into a static demonstration from the beginning of the afternoon by the police.
Lastly, its object: the “comprehensive security” law, under discussion in the Assembly, article 24 of which was adopted at first reading. The latter penalizes the distribution ” malicious“Images of the police, in defiance of the work of journalists and NGO observers, so that the guarantee of” right to informHad to be added in a last minute amendment on Friday. Insufficient for its detractors. Who would have thought that in 2020, in France, it would be necessary to pound the pavement against the obstacles to the freedom to inform? Dominique Pradalié, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), is alarmed by this drift: “Making images today is the transmission of reality. If tomorrow, we are forbidden to film, it forbids transmitting all the atrocities committed“
They were around 20,000 gathered (but also several thousand in Lille, Rennes or even Montpellier), according to the organizing collective, just in front of the symbolic human rights esplanade, the Eiffel Tower in the background, to say no to this “blurring of mouth”. The flags of the PCF, the FI, Génération.s and EELV mingled with those of the CGT, the SNJ, the League of Human Rights and the yellow vests. A peaceful and festive demonstration – despite a few skirmishes at the end of the day, at nightfall – where the signs competed with flashes of light, with this popular wisdom characteristic of the demonstrations: “If police violence does not exist, why ban filming it?“Asks one,”Smile, you’re being filmed»Warns the other. “In the land of the blind, the landlords are kings“, We are philosophical here. “Democracy dies in the dark», We fear there.
Emmanuel Vire, general secretary of the SNJ-CGT journalists’ union and among the architects of this “national coordination”, welcomes this “awakening of citizens and journalists»In the face of this law and in the face of the new national plan for maintaining order, which demands that journalists identify themselves with the police and which amalgamates demonstrators and observers in processions. Journalists are ordered to identify themselves when we are trying to blur the police, raises the trade unionist: “All this to serve a political operation, with the government seeking to siphon off right-wing and far-right voices, even if it means weakening the E state by right.”An anger that Emmanuel Vire intends to express in front of Gérald Darmanin, while the coordination must be received at Place Beauvau on Monday 23 November.
Economists Thomas Piketty and Julia Cagé also mingled with the demonstrators. “People need to realize that Emmanuel Macron is completely outside the framework of this law, in a context where everyone is barricaded at home because of the Covid», Denounces the author of« Capital in the 21st century ». “This law seeks to give the police the freedom to do what they want», Adds Julia Cagé. A blank check that the angry lawyers of the “black dresses” collective also fear. “We knew that the government had taken an authoritarian turn, this is definitely a boost, gets angry Alexis Baudelin, lawyer at the Paris bar.Now, with article 24 each time a police officer is going to be filmed, he will consider that the beginning of an offense has been committed, because the video can potentially be broadcast, and therefore this will justify arrests and guards on sight. A citizen or a journalist who uses his freedom to inform does not have to run the risk of 24 hours of police custody.“
On an improvised platform near the Trocadéro café, speeches follow one another under the enthusiastic applause of the crowd, including representatives of Attac, UNEF, high school unions, the Observatory of public freedoms or even the strong testimony of Ramata Dieng, sister of Lamine Dieng, killed in 2007 during a police arrest. “It is not only the so-called “militant” journalists who are targeted, it is all journalists, all citizens and particularly those from working-class neighborhoods.“, Reminds Taha Bouhafs at the microphone, the journalist behind the video of Alexandre Benalla in May 2018 place de la Contrescarpe. “With this law, there would have been no Benalla affair“, Points out the founder of Médiapart, Edwy Plenel.
On the elected side, “rebellious, socialist and communist groups will file a motion with the constitutional council“, Promises FI deputy Eric Coquerel, for”return this law from where it should never have come out of the trash can of History“. “In the hemicycle, I called the Minister of the Interior Gérald Le Pen, which offended the majority, laughs his colleague Ugo Bernalicis a little further.But that’s it: to fight against the RN, they apply its program! Marine Le Pen is also said to be in favor of the text.“
Like a symbol, the passage of a surveillance drone in the Parisian sky, emblematic of a law which intends to generalize its use in demonstrations, interrupts the speeches at one point, greeted by boos and a forest of tense adults. “Freedom, freedom! », Chants the crowd as the speaking resumes. A cry from the heart, and an improbable evidence that one should not have to claim in a democracy worthy of the name.