Lille, France: Call to Protest the State of Emergency, September 30th, 2017


Call to Protest the State of Emergency September 30th in Lille – North of France.

When reality becomes worse than fiction.

Since the shock of the November 2015 attacks, France has been under a state of emergency. Prefects can now issue search warrants, order arrests and house arrests, and ban assemblies as they see fit. This tool was quickly revealed for what it really is: a weapon against protest and social movement. Since then, countless militants have been banned from protesting and demonstrations prohibited. Under the cover of anti-terrorist rhetoric, the State has been preventatively granted the means to crush anyone who opposes it. We are at the point where this tool, which is supposed to be temporary, is going to become common law in the form of yet another “anti-terrorist” law. The state of emergency will become permanent at the very moment that the Macron government engages in one of the worst reforms to the labor code ever undertaken.

Narratives – particularly those of the police – are everywhere. The face of very real attacks conducted by Capitalism and its police, these narratives aim to politically disarm anyone who contests the established order. In Lille, the situation is revealing. The police protect the extreme Right, who sells arms to the very Islamists whose attacks legitimize the state of emergency, which itself serves as a tool to suppress those who denounce this cycle. A series of sordid events has shined a light on the particularly shocking collusion between the police, state agencies, and the radical extreme right. The concrete facts have been clearly established and are now publicly verified. The extreme gravity of these revelations necessitates as large a collective response as possible.

The Facts:

On November 11th, 2011, Hervé Rybarczyk, musician in the punk band Ashtones, was found dead in the Deûle river. This was the fifth body in 3 months fished out of the river that crosses the city of Lille – something which has never occurred before, and has not occurred since. At the time, there was talk of a mysterious serial “pusher”, who knocked
his victims into the water at random as soon as night fell.

The investigation carried out by the Judicial Police blamed a series of bad luck and ruled that the deaths were accidental, tying them to alcohol and drug use. This allowed investigators to rapidly close the cases without investigating the different affairs further. However, the families and close acquaintances of the drowned refused to believe the
version of events portrayed by the police, and raised the possibility on multiple occasions that one or more of the crimes was motivated by homophobia. The police refused to record their testimony or their complaints. They mislaid several files. They concealed autopsy results that revealed the clear presence of blows or wounds on the skin of
several bodies, and labeled the cases suicides or accidental deaths.

These affairs, murkier than the waters of the Deûle river led a journalist to examine and publish a book on these unsolved deaths in 2015. He recounts that in the course of his investigations, the police tried to dissuade him from looking into the death of Hervé Rybarczyk,  and above all of linking it to the previous drownings in the Deûle.

Today, we understand better why the police acted this way and the reasons why they have sought to cover up the affair for all these years.

In reality, Hervé was beaten and thrown into the water by Neo-Nazis.

In March 2015, less than a year after the dossier of drowning was closed without further investigation, they were ratted out by other nazis in the course of an investigation into violence by a far-right gang in the nearby Somme. The following July, an investigation covering all of these dossiers was reopened and conferred to Gendarmerie. But we had to wait two long years before the judge charged with the case, Jean-Michel Gentil, proceeded at the end of April to finally hold a hearing on the principal suspect and his two accomplices. Even then, he did not charge them with premeditated murder, but with involuntary manslaughter.

Two of them belonged to a far-right cell that participated in an attack on a gay bar in Lille following a homophobic demonstration. The third, head of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais chapter of Troisième Voie, a revolutionary nationalist organization, had been convicted and imprisoned in Spain in May 2016 for his involvement in the sale of the Czechoslovak weapons used by the Islamists who perpetrated the 2015 Paris Massacres. All three were close to a local member of the extreme right named Claude Hermant, an informant for the Gendarmerie and the National Police who himself is now in prison for having participated in the sale of weapons to Amédy Coulibaly, author of the attack on the
Hyper Casher at the Porte of Vincennes.

It is important to note that Hermant also ran the Vlaams Huis, a Flemish nationalist local that (much like the bar La Citadelle today) associated itself with nativist militants, neo-Nazis, and many cops from the Lille metropolitan area. This close proximity explains the striking ease with which Vlaams Huis used to publish the names and addresses of labor,
antifascist, or libertarian activists arrested in and around Lille, and underlines yet again the collusion between the far right and state agencies.

In the final episode to date, in May 2017, Lille antifascists called for a demonstration in order to publicly condemn the murders perpetrated by these far-right thugs and denounce the close relationships maintained between the different police services in Lille, the courts, and these killers. It was outlawed by order of the Prefect on the pretext of the permanent state of emergency, and then suppressed by police using unprecedented tactics such as kettling (encirclement), intimidations, and the systematic identification and photography of all persons present. It ended with the arrest of many militant antifascists and the confiscation of their materials.

To sum up: Neo-Nazis who are also informers for the police and gendarmerie kill who they will (gays, punks, or anyone who resembles them) with complete impunity, because they sell weapons to anyone and everyone – notably Islamists of ISIS – under the watchful eyes of the police services, who use the murders these Islamists perpetrate to reinforce the state of emergency. This state of emergency allows the police to generally suppress all social or political contestation, and in particular to muzzle any and all who denounce this crazy mess of a poorly-written police drama become real.

Here, the state of emergency appears clearly for what it is: an unjust and particularly dangerous political tool that must be denounced and combatted. We must not allow them permission to kill with impunity nor to silence by force and intimidation our social movements. This is the reason why we are calling ourselves to gather in Lille on September 30th.

The precise place of the demonstration will be given at the beginning of September.

We must cease to accept the worst.

Unions, organizations, collectives: write to [email protected] to join us in this initiative and call for mobilization on September 30th.

The list of signatories as well as the hour and exact location of the
demonstration will be published in September.

Platform Against the State of Emergency

French version here and here.