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French Police Force aiming the Demonstrators to the Head 

Saturday 11 July 2009, by Stéphane Gatti

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

Abstract from the Stéphane Gatti’s letter :

Joachim Gatti has been badly face wounded by a policeman’s Flash-ball shoot, July the 8th, in Montreuil-sous-bois (Grand Paris).

His father Stéphane Gatti, the elder son of the poet Armand Gatti, wrote a letter to protest against the disinformation coming from some newspapers, and explain how occured such a tragedy.

In Montreuil, wednesday the 8th of July, the police emptied a pool of rooms used by some people to implement a ‘living together’ experiment in the french way.

All these people left the place without any violence. Later on, residents and sympathizers set on a massive meal to protest against the evacuation.

At the end of the day, police attacked with Flash-balls, at the back and aiming the head, the cool fellows living the meal.

S. Gatti, whose son had his right eye splited in two, emphasize in this letter the fact that the police didn’t only move into the attack people which wasn’t threatening anyone but also that some mass media and the AFP (French Press Agency) misrepresent the victim as a 20 years old boy trying to get his squat back (whereas Joachim is a 34 y.o. film maker) in order to make it ‘acceptable’ to the french opinion.

The Editorial Staff
Petition for the total ban on the non-lethal weapons of the Police Force


The morning of Wednesday July 8, the police force had emptied a private clinic occupied in the downtown area. The private clinic, in reference to the experiments from Italy, had taken the form of a French" centro sociale”: residences, film projections, newspaper, defense of illegal immigrants, meals… All those that think of the lebensraum looked at this experiment with tenderness. The evacuation was done without violence. The extraordinary deployed police means settled the question in less than one hour. While crossing the market the morning, I had noticed their busy and diligent airs.

Those that had stuck to this experiment and the residents decided to protest against expulsion by organizing a gigantic grub out in the mall of Montreuil.

Three immense tables of hand-manufactured gnocchi (at least five thousand) rolled in the flour waited to be thrown in the broth. Tomato saucepans quivered. They had tightened streamers to rename the space. Images of the popular front or libertarian columns of the war of Spain were superimposed on this festival because sometimes the images gain widespread acceptance. I left the celebration at 8 PM by greeting Joachim.

A few metres from there, it was the last day in the buildings of the Parole Errante at the Maison de l ‘arbre in the street François Debergue of our exhibition over May 68. For one year, it has accommodated plays, film projections, meetings, the sedentary night, the call of the Calls, readings, and presentations of books…

That day, one closed the exhibition with a part of Armand Gatti’s “ l’homme seul” read by Pierre Vial of the French Comedy, a long time companion... Several versions of the life of a Chinese militant are confronted with it: that of the woman, the children, the father, the lieutenant, the general, the comrades…

It was a three hours reading. We were surrounded by the newspapers of May. Suddenly, young people arrived in the room, frightened, they came to hide… they set out again. I received a call: Joachim is at the hospital, at the l’hôtel Dieu.

He was indeed there. He had not lost conscience. His face was covered with blood that ran out slowly as if he had become porous. In a corner, the intern of service said to me that there was little chance that he finds the use of his burst eye again. I say burst because I would learn it later, he had three fractures on the face, the ocular sphere split into two, a torn off eyelid…

Between these two moments; that is when I left him at the gnocchi celebration and the hôtel Dieu, what had occurred?

He relates:

“There were fireworks on top of the market. We went there. Immediately, the police officers that supervised the area within their car deployed in front. One minute later, whereas we were still opposite the clinic, at the level of the market hall, the police officers that walked a few meters behind us, drew on our group by means of their flashball.

I was walking and I looked in direction of the police officers. I felt a violent shock at the level of my right eye. I fell on the ground under the force of the impact. People helped me to stand up and supported me until I sat on the pavement in the rue de Paris. As the intensity of the pain and bleedings heightened, firemen were called.”

There has been no clash. Five persons have been hit by the flashball shots, all of them above the waist. Police blunders cannot be invoked. The demonstrators were about thirty and were no threat to anybody. In fact, policemen shot images, as described by the following press release by AFP.

A young man of about twenty lost an eye after a clash with the police, as learnt from several coincident sources on Friday. He occupied, together with other people, a squat at Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis) that has been evacuated by the police last Wednesday. The young man, Joachim Gatti, belonged to a group of about fifteen squatters who have been sent off the premises of a former clinic Wednesday morning they tried to reoccupy the place a little later in the evening but they clashed with the police. They threw stones at the police, who replied with flashball, according to the prefecture that ordered the action. Three persons have been arrested and a young man had his eye injured and was taken to hospital in Paris, according to the Mayor, who did not however provide any detail on how severe the wound was. “We have indeed been informed that a young man lost his eye, but there is no clearly established connection between this loss and the flashball shooting”, the prefecture stated before the AFP on Wednesday.

The police is justified shooting at the image of a 20 year old young man who tries to take back a squat. And for police and media alike, this justifies acquittal; this is the first scandal.

Should one re-establish the truth on Joachim Gatti’s identity, at least to disclose how the police manipulate identities to justify their actions, as if there were a targeted population on whom shooting is legitimate?

Joachim is not twenty, but thirty-four.

He did not live in the squat, but used to take an active part to the numerous activities taking place in the clinic.

He is a cameraman.

He prepares exhibitions and is a film-maker.

His first film is called “Magume”. It was shot in Burundi, in a seminary; it dwells on the question of genocide. At present, he takes part in a project involving two Emmaüs hostels within a collective framework.

One should be allowed to rewrite the AFP forgery and ask them to publish it. It should run like:

Joachim Gatti, a film-maker aged 34, was hit by a flashball bullet right in the face while he demonstrated in support of evicted squatters. He lost an eye as a result of police brutality.

S. G.


* Information of the Local Links in the French Version:


Joachim Gatti is more an actor as Joachim Riviere in the film "La commune de Paris" (2007) from Peter Watkins. During his studies in the Nanterre University he was both a student in philosophy of Etienne Balibar and a student in film-making; he signed several multifield projects on the alternative urban strategy in cities such as Genoa and Barcelona.

2 Forum posts

  • I think another translation is required, this is no short of a catastrophe for such an important subject. Please, we need a professional translation that we could share!!

    • French Police Force aiming the Demonstrators to the Head 21 July 2009 02:14, by Aliette G. Certhoux

      Oui Alex, une autre traduction est requise ; ceux qui l’ont faite ne sont pas des traducteurs professionnels mais de toutes façons moins mauvais que moi. Nos amis traducteurs professionnels ne sont pas à Paris en ce mois de juillet et j’ai pensé que mieux valait une mauvaise traduction qui suscite d’en produire une nouvelle plutôt qu’aucune publiée. Sans doute ai-je eu tort ?

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