This Saturday, February 11, there was a call for a rally, “Justice for Adama, justice for Theo, justice for all victims of the police” at 4pm in front of the courthouse in Bobigny.
This courthouse is a sinister place, where sentences are read out each week, spreading anger and sadness among many residents of Seine-Saint-Denis…We know how justice works, by protecting the rich. Sometimes we talk about a two-tier justice system, but in reality it’s more than that, with its ruling class ways and institutional racism, it hardly deserves the name.
So I wasn’t surprised to find the courthouse under heavy police protection, considering many of us present wouldn’t have fond thoughts of this place…
Arriving late with a few friends, we were pleasantly surprised to see the thousands of people (at a glance, something like 4000?) assembled in the park situated at the foot of the courthouse. The cops controlled the area from above, using the walkway to the court . There were also squads spread all around, the whole place stank like pig . But there were also tons of us, and all kinds of people were out, it was great to see, and even if there were mostly youth from the neighbourhoods of the 93 [the first two digits of the postal code for the North-eastern suburbs of Paris], there were also lots of people from elsewhere and of all ages.
There were a few speeches, but forgive me if I don’t say much about them, I wasn’t really listening… A few people were handing out leaflets, especially for the march for justice and dignity on March 19, or the text “Solidarity with Theo” written by some anarchists from the 93. There were also a few lonely communists from the papers “The Bolchevik” or “Independant democratic workers party”. We spotted flags from the Human Rights league as well as a few anarchist ones (black and pink, black and red).
The crowd was yelling out different slogans (cops, rapists, murderers; Justice for Theo; Everyone hates the police; Zyed, Bouna, Theo, and Adama, we don’t forgive we don’t forget) and around 4:50, the first stones started flying towards the cops. Then a firework, and a big part of the crowd moved towards the buildings of the departmental administration of Seine-Saint-Denis [the regional government], then towards the walkway where the riot cops were preventing access to the court. The volley of rocks got more intense, the cops answered with tear gas, then some tags popped up on the walls (Vengeance; cops, rapists, murderers; solidarity with Theo; cops out of our lives;revolution) along with anarchist symbols and postal codes from the 93, etc. The windows of two departmental buildings were broken, as well as their front doors. The most determined pushed onto the walkway and tried to charge the riot cops. In vain though, as the police pushed them back with tear gas and flashballs.
Bathed in tear gas, the rioters regrouped in the park. The cops were attacked from other locations and in one corner of the park, a van of journalists from RTL was attacked. Its windows were broken first, then its hood was tagged, then finally the vehicle was simply burned, to the cheers of the crowd.
Honestly, considered the statements from Theo and his sisters, especially about this rally in particular (two of Theo’s sisters said they supported the rally, but hoped that it would stay calm), I didn’t really know how the ambiance would be. But it’s hard to keep rage and disgust from coming out. And all these riotous moments happened in such a friendly atmosphere, with lots of goodwill from all sides: there was a real solidarity between those engaged in the riot and those who acted more calmly.
Time passed, the riot energy dipped, and some people left the park to see what was happening nearby. Riot cops were swarming everywhere. Rocks started flying towards the cops stationed around the park. The repeated used of tear gas managed to scatter the group into several parts, creating different positions and confrontations. As a result, shit went off all around the court.
Around 7pm, I believe, I was with a few friends near where some office buildings were attacked: banks and insurance agencies, notably, with their glass doors smashed open and the stuff inside broken, again to the cheers of the crowd. Some ad panels and bus shelters were smashed, some big trash cans set on fire and put in the streets as a barricade. A quick autoreduction was carried out on a commercial vehicle for the water, coke, and orangina. These were immediately shared, in good humour as always.
Time passed and the riot cops set up in different intersections. As the police vehicles rolled by, they were always amply greeted with rocks, without any private vehicles being attacked. Wherever I was, the smashing was very targeted, by everyone, regardless of the labels we could put on the various rioters present.
We tried to attack a line of cops to move elsewhere, but they answered with flashballs and teargas. Then ten or so vans of cops managed to disperse the big group of demonstrators. We all took off in different directions.
In the direction I went, a BP gas station was attacked, with the stuff from the station used to set up barricades in the street. Beside it, a Speedy was smashed up and partly looted. Further down, every passing police car was hit with paving stones. Then, around 9:45, this section definitively dispersed. It was its own little adventure getting home while avoiding the cops (who were everywhere in the city), knowing that the subway station and many bus and tram stops were closed, but it was fine and we made it.
Elsewhere, at other points around the Bobigny court, there were good times too, with a shopping centre invaded, a McDonalds devastated (the tills were stolen!), a Decathalon robbed, a Franprix loots, a van from Europe 1 got its windows smashed, cars tipped over or set on fire, and cops under storms of rocks… So, even when the cops are numerous, if we’re many and determined, we can still bring an impressive strength to bear.
This society is a permanent injustice. Our revolt is permanent too. It natural to express it. What’s surprising is that there aren’t more of us out in revolt. The state, its politicians, its police, its judges, its media, its bourgeoisie in general all don’t give a shit about us and make us believe that we should protest calmly and make lists of demands. But we know they just want to keep their power, and that we won’t change anything by staying calm. And if fucking everything up won’t change the world, it’s already something to see that the rage is shared in many segments of society and that we can struggle together, without leaders and without parties to recuperate our revolt.
For Theo, Adama, Zyed, Bouna, Lamine, and all the ohters: rage and solidarity.
An anarchist from the 93
Endnote from Attaque :
The train station, located in between the metro and the departmental buildings (and the walkway leading to the court) also got what was coming to it. There were in fact “privately owned” cars burned and we won’t ask those who did it to justify themselves. However, no one was endangered by the rioters, contrary to what some especially clumsy journa-cops might say [The police circulated a story that they had to rescue a six-year-old from a burning car, a story that was quickly debunked]
[translation : Bordered by Silence]