The most important news at a glance – Our weekly press review of calendar week 35. The autonomous quarter Exarchia in Athens under pressure from the authorities, Hong Kong’s 14th protest week and Prague having a problem with over-tourism. Beside of that, time to rethink e-scooters, because they may not be ecological at all – Our summary of the most important news in Europe.
Urban space and appropriation
Athens unique squatter scene around Exarchia in danger
The district Exarchia in the north of the Greek capital consists of a unique microcosm of squats. For several weeks now, the recently elected prime minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis has been targeting this free and autonomous neighborhood. With his election promise “Law and Order” he has declared war on the free quarter Exarchia. Something that has been difficult since the riots of 2008.
The Guardian published an article about this anarchistic-autonomous quarter. The collective of activists around Void Network names a total of 23 occupations in Exarchia itself and a further 26 in the adjacent area. A small alternative ecosystem developed over the years, which is accompanied by other self-determined concepts like the Free Social Space Nosotros or the Free Shop Skoros. Surrounded by university buildings, this urban island of free spaces hosts a solidarity network that accommodates around 1000 refugees in shelters. One of them is the Nottara 26, which was one of the first occupations to open its doors to people from all over the world during 2015. Such self-determined housing projects offer a better accommodation in which human dignity is better respected than in overcrowded refugee camps and are especially important for families with children or isolated minors.
Four evictions in one week
August 25, around 6 a.m, the Spirou Trikoupi 17 was cleared. The odyssey of it inhabitants can be followed on their Facebook page, where they report that the Greek authorities planned to distribute the residents to various refugee camps in Greece. This especially affects the children who went to school in Exarchia, but also the whole community, as the different squats are connected through solidarity networks. Further evictions also affected the occupations Transito, Rosa de fuego and Gare. Friday morning, five days later, a raid was carried out on the self-managed house K*VOX, while the evening before police used tear gas in the closed rooms of a citizen cafe.
Protest occupation by migrants in the north of Paris – For a right to decent housing
In view of the degraded situation for isolated minors, families or women, the association Utopia56 occupied a section of the Parc de la Vilette in the north of Paris for one week. A total of 150 people, including 63 minors, took part in the action with the support of the association. The migrant camp was evacuated by the police on Wednesday, one week after the start of the occupation, which was part of a call for the right to decent housing. The lack of sanitary facilities and rooms with privacy goes hand in hand with the uncertainty and mental stress of being accommodated in temporary shelters.
The association Utopia56, dedicated to supporting migrants, provides them with shelter, food distribution assistance, sleeping bags and access to health care (hospitalization). With 11.000 members (June 2019) the association is represented in Calais, Lille, Paris, Rennes, Toulouse and Tours.
The situation in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate
Last Saturday there were mass protests and clashes with the police again in Hong Kong. On Sunday hundreds of activists threw bricks, metal rods and boulders onto the tracks of the airport train line. The train service to the airport was suspended for a short time, there were no flight cancellations. The police drove the demonstrators, who also barricaded the access roads to the terminals with baggage carts, with water cannons and pepper spray, as Zeit reports. The protests against the controversial Delivery Act on China, which have been going on since June, continue to escalate and the Chinese government is under strong pressure. The draft law is now frozen, but not yet completely off the table. And Peking reacts with sharp threats, as the Tagesschau reported. The central government will never allow chaos to continue indefinitely. “If the situation in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate and there is chaos that cannot be controlled by the government of the Special Administrative Region and endangers the sovereignty and security of the country, then the central government will not remain inactive,” said Xu Luying, spokeswoman for the Hong Kong and Macao Bureau of Affairs. What is meant here is a legal military intervention by Beijing in Hong Kong.
City and Mobility
E-Scooter not as environmentally friendly as intended
In the past few months, e-scooters have made headlines in the media, mainly due to traffic accidents in which they were involved. Now it comes out that they are not even ecological! At least heise online, which in turn quotes a study by North Carolina State University. The study calculated all emissions including production, transport, loading, collection and disposal of the scooters. And see there, the vehicles burn up to 200 grams of CO2 per mile – which is more than it is the case with a normal diesel bus with a high degree of capacity utilization.
An Intelligent Sail for Cargo Ships
Cargo ships are the means of transport when it comes to sending large quantities of goods from one metropolis to another. The distance travelled is often over continents. Thus about two thirds of the worldwide CO2 emissions are caused by cargo ships, that is more than one billion tons per year. In addition, many cargo ships run on cheap marine diesel, which causes additional sulphur and nitrogen emissions. A new sail should counteract these circumstances and reduce the emissions of a freighter by 40%. The sail should automatically stop operating in rough seas and automatically turn to the wind when the weather is fine. The “wingsail” of the Spanish company Bound4blue is currently in the development phase and should yield its first profits in five years. More information about the project can be found in this blog post by reset.org.
The most important news at a glance – Our weekly press review of the calendar week 33. Ban on e-scooters in Milan, dying city centers in England, soon new squats in Berlin, as well as French journalism in crisis – Our summary of the most important news.
City and human
UK High Streets activity decreasing?
Main streets and city centers play an important role in local communities.
According to the Independent, the national vacancy rate in the UK in July was 10.3 percent. According to the monitoring of the British Retail Consortium, the number of empty shops in downtown England has reached its highest level since 2015.
While shopping malls outside the city performed better last month with an increase in visitor numbers of 1.2 percent than the main street frequency, which fell by 2.7 percent last month, while inner-city shopping centers recorded an even greater loss of 3.1 percent.
“QueerUnity” – A novum for Niedersachsen
As the Taz reported, there will soon be a queer youth center in Hanover. The initiator of the project is the Andersraum association, which already runs a queer centre and looked after the young people. However, the offer was limited due to the lack of space and co-design, which is why there will soon be own rooms for queer teenagers. The city of Hannover promised a support of 50.000 Euro, whereby all parties except the right-wing AfD welcomed the project. The name “QueerUnity” was chosen by the young adolescents and should give them a safe space in form of a 120m² shelter for their free development. A meaningful measure, since queer young people are exposed to discrimination in their everyday life in many places like school, in public or even by their own families.
Hong Kong – Trump warns Beijing with economically consequences and an employee of the british consulate is missed
The protests in Hong Kong continue and after last week Hong Kong airport was closed for 48 hours and nearly a thousand flights were cancelled, Trump warns the Chinese government against violent intervention against the demonstrators. He twittered on 14 August that he was sure that if Chinese President Xi wanted to solve the Hong Kong problem quickly and humanely, he could. Trump also said on 18 August that it would be “very difficult” for him to agree on a trade agreement with China if Xi did not find a peaceful solution to the protests in Hong Kong that have been going on for almost 3 months now. With increasing police violence and arbitrary arrests, as well as troop movements near the Hong Kong border, the real question is how far China will go. For example, the Chinese government is said to be linked to the disappearance of a British consular officer, according to the British newspaper The Guardian. The man has been missing since 8 August, when, following a meeting in Shenzhen, south-eastern China, he tried to cross the border into Hong Kong. The disappearance of the man is probably related to Beijing’s warning that London should not interfere in the current situation.
City and mobility
Mailands E-Scooter have to disappear
Except for privately used e-scooters, all other scooters provided by sharing providers must be removed from public space within three days, was the order issued by the local government on 14 August. This information was confirmed by a press spokeswoman to the German press agency after a report in the Milan daily Corriere della Sera and published in the Tagesspiegel.
Until the resumption of scooter rental, further regulations are needed, which are to be negotiated in the coming weeks – in order to create a secure offer. Until now, driving these vehicles has been limited to a maximum of six kilometres per hour in the pedestrian zone. In future, however, they will also be able to roll around on cycle paths or in 30 km/h zones at speeds of up to 20 km/h (subject to a sufficiently large number of signs).
The use of electric scooters is also restricted in Paris. They are no longer allowed on sidewalks. At the beginning of August, the Tagesspiegel wrote that Berlin’s sidewalks should also be exempted from the scooters; among other things, the police have already registered 38 traffic accidents there.
Urban space and appropriation
#Besetzen wants to get back Berlin at the end of September
On the Twitter account of BesetzenBerlin, a loose group of squat-activists related to the Hashtag #Besetzen, a press release was issued on August 14. Thus, in the context of the action days “Tu mal wat!” from 26. – 29. September different houses are to be occupied. Under the motto “City from below”, the activists are committed to putting the needs of the local people, as well as greater co-determination in connection with urban design, in the foreground.
Cameras in Stockholm subway cars: A blessing for everyone?
The Local informed: The platforms are already being monitored, which has led to a loss of crime, according to Regional Transport Councilor Kristoffer Tamsons. Now cameras are to be installed in the 271 Stockholm subway carriages so that offences within the carriages can also be recorded in the act. If necessary, the cameras, which are connected to the public transport security centre in Stockholm, will also help passengers.
Public transport companies in Sweden normally have to apply for a permit to install cameras in public areas. However, the Stockholm metro network is an exception.
Where’s Steve? Those affected by the fatal evening gave their testimonies
In the French city of Nantes, close to the Atlantic Ocean, a controversial police operation during the Fete de la musique led to media attention. The Festival of Music is an event where music is played and celebrated late into the night throughout France. But this year a dark event should shade the otherwise so joyful course. At the edge of the flowing river Loire young people celebrated to electronic beats, when the police decide without warning to end the celebration. The association Media’Son assembled up to 148 testimonies. At that night up to 33 tear gas and 10 dispersion grenades as well as 33 shots with Flashballs/LBD were shot on to the ravers. The LBD is a gun which shots rubber bullets and was widely used the Gilets Jaunes movement. It’s use lead to the loss of 14 eyes).
Absolutely unprepared for this disproportionate act of violence on the part of the police, this led to a mass panic with fatal consequences. The newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche received insights into the statements from those affected and describes the impressions of the fatal evening when 14 people fell into the Loire. Among them was Steve Maia Canico, who drowned in the streams of the river. Thus, the situation is described as extremely chaotic: People who slept before woke up in a fog of tear gas, while screams were heard from everywhere and people stumbling over each other.
The French police are thus coming under increasing criticism, as an extremely high level of police violence was already detected during the movement of the Gilets Jaunes. Controversial: The IGPDN, the French police force control authority, is very effective in prosecuting officers who, for example, steal material or defile the reputation of the police, but on the other hand has big difficulties to detect any violence committed by the police.
City and Environment
Blue City project as flagship for Rotterdam’s sustainability plan
The BlueCity project in Rotterdam aims to recycle waste. A former wellness luxury spa in the city of Rotterdam has been transformed into a huge high-tech waste recycling laboratory. Engineers, bioscientists, breeders, brewers, archaeologists, caterers, carpenters, storytellers and designers are housed here under one roof to create an ecosystem that shares resources and reuses waste in an attempt at “circular economy”. Plastic and metal are shredded and reborn as brand new products using 3D printers. Worms compost all the organic waste in BlueCity. This project aims to solve one of the biggest problems of our century, the enormous amount of plastic waste that humanity produces. Worldwide only less than 10% of it is recycled. It is a step in the right direction that there are not only artists who are paying attention to this issue but also the communities are starting to act. Rotterdam plans to take a leading role in the circular economic movement by 2050. And there is even more good news: Rotterdam is not the only city in Europe with circular innovation centres. There is De Ceuvel in Amsterdam, CRCLR in Berlin, SPACE10 in Copenhagen or Sustainable Workspaces in London.
On our own behalf – Journalism
France’s journalism in crisis ?
At the beginning of the year, SCAM, the French copyright collecting society for authors, asked 3771 journalists about their situation and opinions about their profession. In the resulting paper entitled: Journalists – Authors or Content Suppliers? several glaring problems were identified. In our article: Is freedom of the press in danger? we had already asked ourselves this question. With the SCAM report, however, the problem becomes clear on several levels.
The report stresses that working conditions and precariousness are a key issue. The working environment of French journalists has changed considerably in recent years. Where once permanent employment was the order of the day, it is now freelance work. The advantage for employers: no social security contributions and additional remuneration such as the 13th salary. For journalists, however, this all too often means taking on part-time jobs for financial reasons. Especially badly it hits thereby women, who receive less salary and are often shifted from position to position.
But also the general professional image is a big point of dissatisfaction. This can be the precariousness, which stands in contrast to the prestigious image of the journalist, but also in the case of the freelancer, the fact that in the media HQ the contents are cut to size and important video sequences are taken out or put in a weird relation, which leaves the creators irritated. But really bitter is that most journalist on the field, who are the nearest to what happened don’t own a press card, since they have to earn at least 70% of their income by journalistic activity.
The movement of the Gilets Jaunes has a strong will to express itself. Be it in demonstrations, through colourful signs and disguises – or taggs on the walls. The local graffiti and streetart scene, of course, uses the opportunity to give the street a voice. Various artists met in the Black Lines community to create socio-critical walls in the context of the Yellow Vests. The graffiti jams took place in May on Rue Ordener in the 18th arrondissement north of Paris.
At the beginning of the year, Black Lines had already realized a long wall with various artists. At that time the main theme was “hiver jaune”, which means yellow winter. However, the administration of the 19th district reacted quickly and had the wall painted grey. One of the images that stirred up controversy was the fresco showing the boxer Christophe Dettinger, created by artist Skalp. Dettinger had pushed the police back on a bridge in Paris with fist blows.
The reaction of the city, however, is perceived by the artists as censorship. It is obvious that the artists won’t put up with this – and so it goes into the next round. In the fresco by Monsieur Plume /RC/OTM, black-clad figures gather around a table on which there is a red book that a person seems to be reaching for. The grouping of black masked figures gives the impression that a conspiracy is in progress. To the left, there is an isolated spray can on the table, while on the other side, a masked man with a bat is sitting next to a standing person taking the floor. What these people are discussing is not known. However, the leading theme of the Black Lines Edition clearly stands out: censorship and freedom of expression. Also present: Slyz, bricedu, Torpe and Vince.
Police violence & repression of the yellow vests
“Les graffeurs sortent les bombes – l’état sort le Karcher.”
The sprayers get the paint bombs – The state the Kärcher by Slyz
The weekly recurrence of violence is a major issue among the supporters of this social movement. This is addressed by the artist Slyze (right) with his picture, a photo after Bsaz. The photo shows a policeman who seems to hit a demonstrator with a bat. “Resistance” is written on his back. The red banner in the background, which rises in front of black clouds of smoke, says: “The sprayers get out the paint bombs” – An appeal to dip the city in paint and to be civil disobedient? On the lower lettering it says: “The state gets the Kärcher out” – In combination with the act of violence in the picture, the allusion to the high-pressure cleaning device can seem confusing.
The fact is that cleaning crews clean up in the hours after the major demonstrations. As was the case during 1 May, when the empty grenade shells of the Flashbangs (GLI-F4) and tear gas cartridges, as well as rubber bullets, were cleaned up first and foremost. This is followed by transporters in which the mountains of waste are collected. The next day, the first tags disappear from the walls and wooden screens of the shops and form patchwork patterns in the facade. Some streets are kept so clean that after a few days all traces of any space appropriation disappear. Urbanauth was able to see the Kärcher in action on the Sunday after 16 March, when convoys of workers tried to repair the damage to the Champs-Elysees in a hurry.
Marianne-Streetart – Symbol of French Revolution
On the left picture you can see the image of a Marianne, which was designed by the artist Torpe. The Marianne is a symbolic figure of the French Revolution. Her face grim, holding the French flag in one hand and a rifle in the other, she finds herself surrounded by journalists. They seem downright condemning, as they ask: “The escalations of violence, do you condemn them? “So the acts of violence, do you condemn them?” “Do you condemn the violence?“.
This socio-critical work can be understood as a representation of the public pressure on the demonstrators. Freedom-loving Marianne finds herself in distress and has to justify the violence to the media. Thus, in her opinion, the most severe violence comes from the state itself, in the form of physical violence: during the demos or in the suburbs, but also in psychological form: Such as cuts in social security benefits, pensions or the closure of public places and the feeling of not being heard by politicians.
The Media in front of the yellow vests
In the masterpiece of the Parisian sprayer Vince, two hands hold a red sign on a ten-meter-long surface on which “auto censorship” is written. The sentence below says: “This time the city administration won’t make it disappear…“. And it probably alludes to the action of the city administration when the last Black Lines meeting was overpainted in gray. Below right one reads sarcastically: “Enriched with social control”. In the picture series the complete size of the fresco can be seen. At the top it says: “Guaranteed without Barbara Streisand effect“. The Barbara Streisand effect is unwanted information, whose cover-up attempts only lead to the information becoming all the more well-known. This effect is not required for this work of art, because: The passers-by react anything but indifferent. They use the opportunities to picture themselves with “auto censorship“.
The behavior of the media towards the social movement is also strongly criticized. While riots against police officers tend to be the focus of the media, acts of violence against demonstrators are much less strongly addressed. The independent journalist David Dufresne, who has been collecting testimonies and video material on police violence since the beginning of the Gilets-Jaunes movement, comes up with no less than 803 violations at the end of May 2019.
Graffiti wisdom : “Medias live, when the street dies”.
“Les Medias vivent quand la rue meurt. C’est une info, pas une rumeur!”
The media live when the road dies. That’s an information, not a rumour!
The woman in the picture – where she’s on her way? – runs past a television set drawn in thin black lines. A timer shows the numbers 13:12, while wires on the side bowl lead to dynamite rods. The device contains three carrots with name plates underneath: One for TF1, which belongs to the Bouygues group; one for CNEWS, which is linked to the Bolloré group; and the last one goes to BFM(-TV). These three television channels are owned by private investors. Among them are the crème de la crème of the French business elite: Vincent Bolloré, Martin Bouygues…
It is not for nothing that a lettering chants on the top page: “The media live when the street dies. That’s info. No rumor!“. Because while on the riot Saturdays of December 1, 8, 2018 and March 16, 2019 the viewer numbers at the TV stations went through the ceiling and presenters ran hot. It should be noted that not all media are hated. The Gilets Jaunes respect independent journalists who are intimidated by the state. We reported about it.
What will happen to freedom of expression and freedom of the press?
The street sign ” Square for freedom of opinion”, a glued poster, is surrounded on the left picture by barbed wire. Two surveillance cameras point symbolically to the rising surveillance, while a small, mischievously smiling bear sits under the sign and holds a grenade in his hand. As a mere spectator one is tempted to ask oneself, when the grenade might go off.
The guillotine, an invention from the time of the French Revolution, is an ax with which the King Louis XVI, among others, was beheaded. In the left picture it is pointed at a pencil with the name of the organizing association on it. While the first graffiti jam was painted gray by the city administration under the motto “Yellow Winter”, the focus of the last jam is on freedom of expression.
The artists were attacked in their honor – but the dissatisfaction is not only noticeable on the part of the graffiti scene. In an open letter at the beginning of May, the YellowSubmarine collective called for solidarity with social protest movements and not to look away from the acts of violence. The collective consists of artists from various disciplines. Their petition now has over 26,000 signatures.
And even the artist, who may be Koz1, seems to have lost patience with the state. In his hip-hop clothes, his angry monkey stuffs a 600 milliliter high pressure spray can into the mouth of a caricatured president. Of course in neon yellow. The groovy “GJ” graffiti in the background, the initials of movement. The tie that blows away from the maltreated statesman says: “Art is public. March back.” The “En marche arrière” contrasts with the name of the ruling party: “La République en marche” (/LREM), which can be roughly translated as “The Republic in Motion”. An announcement that may have to do with cuts in the budget for education and culture, as well as a perceived degradation of working conditions.
Somebody’s got one more word to spray.
Graffiti? Gilets Jaunes? – Okay But here? – Wrong address
TPK, also known as The Poor Kids – one of the most notorious graffiti crews in the French capital – did not quite agree with Black Lines. The crew members: Relax, Craze, Eby, Keas, Blod, eyome, Knyze, dkc showed this a few days later after the event. The Hall of Fame on rue Ordener is known to belong to the old-fashioned sprayer crews. Greenhorns and strangers are undesirable. Even though the graffiti scene is close to the Gilets-Jaunes movement, as the unpredictable crowd covers the sprayers. And even though the city becomes a playground for them on Saturdays, the walls along rue Ordener are of great importance to the local crews. In the first picture, the work is sprayed in yellow and careless letter styles, matching the theme. The spared message says: “The revolution is the revelation on the horizon“.
In the second picture the statement of the artist Adam Yuul has also been spared. In red letters he warns of three epidemics: Castagnitis, Rugyole and Penicose. The first one refers to Christophe Castagner, Minister of the Interior and leader of the LREM party, while Francois de Rugy, Minister of the Environment, and Muriel Pénicaud, Minister of Labour, are named. In connection with the demands: Interior – think of the police violence and provisional detention and surveillance. Ecology – which Macron promoted in his electoral program without success. Work – one of the basic motives for the creation of the Gilets Jaunes is the decreasing purchasing power combined with wages and the large structural differences in the country. The fresco can be understood as a criticism of the neoliberal economic orientation of the ruling party, which is why the artist finally warns not to leave the house without the yellow vest.
The article is available in German and French. Images by Urbanauth. Note: The lettering and quotations on the walls have been freely translated and adapted to English. The image interpretation is only one of several possible perspectives.
The ongoing protests of the Gilets Jaunes are putting the French government under increasing pressure. After the announcement of a first ultimatum (Act 18 / 16 March) to President Macron, violent riots were already foreseeable weeks before. But another temporary climax of the escalation in France’s heated political climate was reached on April 20 (Act 23). The French leadership under Macron, which since December not only prevents participants of the Gilets Jaunes protests from entering the capital Paris, but also arrests them – with partly grotesque reasons.
Journalists are also increasingly being targeted by the state. What is striking here is that police attacks taking place on independent journalists.
A particularly critical stage was reached during the 23rd act of the Yellow Vests, when seven journalists in Toulouse and about twelve others in Paris were prevented from their work. While water cannons or flashball cannons were targeted at press people, fragments of dispersion grenades and baton blows also hit the independent reporters. Most spectacular, however, were the temporary detentions of two journalists: Alexis Kraland and Gaspard Glanz.
When the police knows you by your first name
“Hello Gaspard“, the Commissioner greeted the journalist Gaspard Glanz this Saturday on the square of the République in the north of Paris.
A short time later, the founder of Taranis News gets a grenade thrown at him which burns his trouser leg.
Angrily, he runs towards the group of policemen and asks the commissioner to speak. In the following scenario a policeman becomes violent towards him and pushes him backwards. He then shows him the stinky finger and is taken into custody by four policemen. The arrest, which was filmed by Hors Zone Press, ends with the policemen beating around themselves with their batons, dissolving the rest of the gathering of journalists around the action.
The Gaspard Glanz case needs special attention. Recognised in the industry as a video journalist, he has been documenting social movements in France for some time and regularly attends various demonstrations. With his production company Taranis News, he became known for his reporting during the Labour Laws, Notre Dames of the country and a report on the “Jungel of Calais”. His reportage traded him various entries in identification files, such as the “Fiche S” (State Security) and “Fiche J” (State wanted). However, he is not sought by the state, but continues to function in this file, despite a request to remove this marking.
A birthday in the jail cell for… ?
A fame that earned him a deprivation of liberty of over 48 hours and a birthday in the prison cell. On Monday 22.04.2019 a handful of journalists and private persons demonstrated for his release in front of the commissariat of the 12th arrondissement in Paris. We were there. Under condition he was released in the evening: Prohibition to appear and film in Paris on 1 May and Saturdays. On Monday 29.04.2019, however, this ban was successfully challenged in court by his lawyers. However, in some other European countries it would be unthinkable to impose a ban on the reporting of demonstrations.
The basis for his arrest is the law paragraph “disregard of persons with public authority” as well as “participation in a grouping for the commission of criminal offences or degradations”. While there is nothing to add to the first, the last accusation raises considerable questions.
Journalists in the crossfire of authoritarian laws?
Raphael Kempf, one of Gaspard Glanz’s lawyers, points out in his interview with Revue Ballast that legislation in France in recent years has not only damaged the right to demonstrate. Journalists, too, feel the interpretation of the law against its original purpose.
In 2010 under Sarkozy, Article 222-14-2 was included in the Code of Criminal Procedure. This prohibits participation in a group for the commission of criminal offences. Originally conceived in the context of the riots in the banlieues, it was intended to prevent the gathering of juveniles who could possibly cause riots.
The paragraph is strongly reminiscent of the film “Minority Report”, in which people are sentenced on the basis of a prediction and stands in direct contrast to the presumption of innocence:
“Every defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty by law.”
Nine years later, it is this paragraph that brings Gaspard brilliance to the prison collection site. And incidentally, it is used against a large number of Yellow Vest demonstrators to prevent them from exercising their right to demonstrate. This is usually done in combination with people checks and is imposed when suspicious objects are found. These can include ski goggles, helmets and respirators. Usually the same pattern is followed. A suspicious object is found which gives the reason to take the person into custody. 24 hours later, after the demonstration is over, they are released.
The law against troublemakers, popularly known as the “Loi Anti-Casseur“, was passed by the French state on 10 April 2019 after the violent riots in the context of the Yellow Vest movement.
The aim is to prohibit people from entering a defined area if they refuse to carry out physical checks or if they are in possession of objects that can per se be regarded as potential weapons. A card index will also be created for persons who are subject to a ban on demonstrations. This is limited to a clearly defined area, but can be very annoying for the persons. For example, Gaspard Glanz had to leave Paris for Act 24 (27 April 2019) at its own expense, threatening further consequences in the event of non-compliance. However, the ban on taking part in a demonstration and the ban on wearing a mask must also be viewed critically. While the use of rubber bullets is prohibited in other EU countries, and dispersion grenades are only used in extremely dangerous situations, they have become part of everyday life in France. Protective helmets and breathing masks, which protect the demonstrators from the worst effects, are thus criminalised. A situation that also affects journalists who need this equipment to protect their health.
Alexis Kraland, journalist from Paris, followed the yellow vests on the same Saturday to the subway station of the Gare du Nord, the northern station of Paris. There he was surrounded by policemen and asked to hand over his camera. When he refused, they pressed him against the wall and handcuffed him. When asked why the police wanted his camera, they replied that they were acting on behalf of the prosecution and that the camera could be a weapon. A policeman hit him on the hand with which he was holding his equipment. After the police threatened to confiscate the equipment of the surrounding photographers, they left the scene.
Afterwards his bag was searched where the police found remains of cannabis in his grinder. First, the police said the reason for Alexis Kraland’s arrest was rebellion against surrendering his camera. At the police station the reason was changed to “possession of narcotics”. Apparently neither of the two reasons was accepted by the prosecutor’s office, because at CheckNews/Liberation’s request the Paris prosecutor’s office stated that the reason was “participation in a group with regard to violence or humiliation”. After eight hours in custody Kraland was released, but his protective equipment had previously been destroyed by the police.
If you look at the order to Glanz which prohibited him from filming in Paris on Saturdays, it is questionable what a stinky finger has to do with documenting public protest movements. Currently, the French government does not seem to tolerate independent reporting.
The Yellow Vest movement, which has grown into a serious social movement, seems to be the result of the policies of recent decades in France: a powerless lower class that fights persistently and with anger against a repressive leadership style that promotes the elites.
Whether the popularity of the neoliberal Macron will increase if he now makes the independent press his enemy ? Social media even make comparisons with autocratic systems.
In any case, the question is slowly emerging as to whether the freedom of the press is still valid in France or whether it is already acutely endangered. At any rate, destroying the protective equipment of rapporteurs and detaining journalists for hours without good reason are indicators of a dwindling right to free reporting.