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French Call for the total prohibition of the use of nonlethal weapons by law enforcement 

Friday 24 July 2009, by Stéphane Gatti

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]


The cop waited for Joachim to turn his head toward him and fired at that very moment
(A witness)

I would like to thank all those who have come forward in solidarity, who have passed on information and who have allowed us to speak of these acts of unacceptable violence. Two messages have reinforced my conviction that nonlethal weapons should be outlawed.

The first message comes from the father of a high school student in Nantes who lost his right eye in similar circumstances. He summed up the report that was made by the CNDS (commission nationale de déontologie de la sécurité). We find here the same scenario that was at Montreuil :

the police officer fires at point-blank range at an unarmed person who is not threatening him.

the authorities publish false statements.

“The CNDS describes the injury of the young high schooler as extremely serious, the expected consequences being particularly crippling since Mr. P. D-L. will never regain the vision in his right eye.”

“Concerning this the CNDS ’deplores’ a false statement given by the central director of public security (Paris), who denied in writing the seriousness of the injury. The CNDS describes this official inaccuracy, published even after knowledge about two medical certificates was ’manifestly’ known, as ’carelessly rash’ and ’a blatant lack of follow-up’” (unless the omission is willful ?)

The CNDS had a hearing with a police officer wearing a ski mask and armed with a defensive firearm 40x46 (LBD, the newest “Flash-Ball” model), presumably the one who fired the shot, who reaffirmed that he, by order of his superiors, aimed at a protestor who was throwing ’rocks’ in the direction of law enforcement, but that he would have ’not recognized’ the young student wounded in the eye, who he had been facing. In addition, the family believes after inspection that the site of the rectorate did not contain any rocks or paving stones for throwing, only sand or gravel.”

“These findings lead the Commission to question whether the usage of these kinds of weapons is appropriate in the context of a street protest which involves a closeness and larger mobility between the protestors and the police.”

It is always shocking to see brutal acts transposed into the language of administrative management : response assessment, lack of proportionality, self-defense in the use of force, and the lack of needing to respond, pursue disciplinary action, or scarcely even assign blame to the police officer.

What can one say—he who for thirty-four years had the chance to watch himself grow old in the blue eyes of his son—to the butcher who is going to surround his barbarous act in the flowery language of government administration ?

In moments like these, the question of the government police pops up again. In the entries on our family tree we have crossed this kind of cop many times : the boss police who shattered the leg of our first one before the war, the GMR (Groupe mobile de réserve) who arrested our second one in the underbrush and handed him over to the Germans, the CRS in ’68 who swiped our third one in the wheat fields of Flins, and today the police officers (dressed up like Robocop) who fired into the face of our most recent one in the market square at Montreuil. By whatever name, these police are but different versions of a militia of power. The police officers have acted directly on prefectorial command. The question remains : should we equip such a militia with gear designed to terrorize those who would have inclinations to protest ?

The second message comments on the aggression in the marketplace by law enforcement. Montreuil is a small town. Surveys of people living there were conducted through the coordination of freelance artists. The person in charge of deciphering it all sent me an email in which he concludes :

It’s excruciating, I’m in the process of transcribing but there is an hour and a half of recordings. In bringing together the testimonies we are coming to the conclusion that Joachim was in the process of moving away (this conforms with the testimony of two individuals, one of whom a neighbor). But on the other hand everyone says that Joachim fell with his head toward the rue de Paris and his feet toward the boulevard de Chanzy, in the opposite direction from the cops, thus he had his back to the cops. A plain-clothes cop, standing very still, already had him in his sights (according to two witnesses, including one neighbor, the cop held a firing position for four seconds), which means that the cop waited for Joachim to turn his head toward him and fired at that very moment.

If only the police officer had not hesitated to fire, provoking this disfiguration...but on the other hand the realness of the mutilation is constantly put in doubt.

Doubt raised about the realness of the injury—even while the internist at the central hospital had clearly indicated on the first night, July 8, that the eye was completely lost. Doubt taken up again under different forms in certain papers. Doubt relayed by your own friends who ask you (surely out of kindness) if there really isn’t even a small chance to save the eye. This doubt quickly becomes unbearable because the medical diagnosis held no doubt, because the force of the impact left no chance.

We must leave no chance for nonlethal weapons.

Along with the signatories, I would simply like to ask for the total prohibition of the use of nonlethal weapons (Flash-Ball, lbd40, Taser) by law enforcement.

Stéphane Gatti

Interdiction totale l'utilisation  des armes non-létales  (flashball, LBD40, tazer) par les forces de l'ordre

Thanks Alexander R. Galloway

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