While deconfinement is taking place in France, the debate on police violence has resumed, between tensions in the suburbs and social protest. Former sub-prefect in charge of maintaining order, Laurent Bigot, now known as the Yellow Vest, insists on the responsibilities of the political class. Interview.
While Eric Ciotti and other LR deputies this week tabled a bill banning the dissemination of police images, the Rennes prosecution announced on May 28 the opening of two new judicial information in the investigation into the controversial police operation that led to the death of Steve Maia Caniço, on June 21, 2019, in Nantes.
In the context of urban violence in the suburbs for several weeks, Sputnik interviewed Laurent Bigot, former sub-prefect and diplomat, now engaged alongside the Yellow Vests. Not believing that he had changed sides, he deplored the change in the doctrine of policing.
Laurent Bigot : “Rather than looking at the problem, we are breaking the thermometer. I will have to be told how the dissemination of videos by national police officers and customs officials is detrimental to them. On the other hand, these videos very often made it possible to reveal what other media do not reveal, that is to say behavior which is not acceptable on the part of the police force in a state of law. I don’t understand the motivation of Eric Ciotti. If such an amendment is adopted, one of the consequences will be to no longer allow the disclosure of facts which were not otherwise disclosed. ”
🔴 Alerte #libertedelapresse : proposition de loi hier visant à interdire «la diffusion (…) de l’image des fonctionnaires de #police nationale, militaires, policiers municipaux ou douaniers» 15 000 € d’amende et un an d’emprisonnement prévus.https://t.co/ozIDkF2YQZ pic.twitter.com/YQxcobvd34— David Dufresne (@davduf) May 27, 2020
Laurent Bigot: “I think it’s very courageous on the part of Camélia Jordana, because it will get her more trouble than anything else in the world of show business. That’s clear. She did not speak as an artist, she spoke as a citizen. As such, it has every legitimacy to challenge a minister, to challenge the state on the functioning of the national police. ”
Laurent Bigot: “I was repeatedly the victim of police violence for the simple reason that I was filming. In June 2019, in Bordeaux, an official of the BAC [Brigade Anti-Criminalité, editor’s note] gave me a big baton on the hand by ordering me to stop filming and then he told me punched my face and stole my phone for about ten minutes.
As I went to claim it from the commissioner in the field, who at the beginning did not listen to me, I then went to recover my phone, because I identified the official of the LAC, certainly hooded, but I recognized him physically. When I got my phone back, he also threatened me, saying » we sucked everything in there, if there is anything, you’re dead « . On other occasions, I took two batons, I was only filming, the CDI [departmental intervention company, editor’s note] was advancing, a CDI official gave me two batons and he m said, “ asshole, go to work ”. «
Laurent Bigot: « I am white, I am CSP +, I am afraid in demonstrations, I have seen and suffered police violence and now I am afraid of the police. » My peculiarity is that when I was sub-prefect (in the Dordogne, Corsica, Martinique), I was director of the prefect’s office and therefore, in the prefectural order, the director of the prefect’s office is that who has the prefect’s delegation to manage the police and gendarmerie services in the department.
So I was in charge of the police and the gendarmerie. I worked alongside the police and gendarmes. I know both sides. When I was a sous-préfet, I enjoyed working with the police. When I see what the police have become, I tell myself that there is a problem. The debate deserves to be asked. It would also prevent the whole institution from being unfortunately saddened by the behavior of a minority which is growing. ”
Laurent Bigot: “It has changed. When I was director of the prefect’s cabinet, responsible for maintaining order, the police with a little bottle explained to me a little about the rules of public order: “ There are two essential rules on which we cannot never compromises. It is always to lower the tension and never to trap, always to offer a way out for the demonstrators ”. Today, the two instructions are contact – so do not lower the tension, but on the contrary increase it – and repeated traps.
What the police officers who had the bottle told me was above all to never make a trap, because it provokes completely irrational behavior in the demonstrators and that we have no interest in that. We will have to explain to me what has changed so that we reverse the doctrine to this point, which has produced the results we know, that is to say on the grounds of avoid material breakage, we always have material breakage and in addition we have an appalling human toll, 27 people stranded, five hands ripped off, thousands of injured.
What are the offenses that justify mutilating people? Today in France, the sanctions provided for in the Penal Code are prison terms or fines. These are not corporal punishments. Today, however, we have a doctrine of policing that leads to corporal punishment, because in fact, we grant the right to the police and gendarmes to designate the culprits and to corporally punish them by gutting them, by tearing out their hands and seriously injuring them with batons. «
Laurent Bigot: « No, these are the same values that inspire me, the desire for justice, the desire to protect each other, the general interest, the ability to express and express opinions as dissenting as ‘They can be in power, it is a fundamental right. If there are people who commit offenses in a demonstration, the police are responsible for using the force strictly necessary to arrest them and bring them to justice, because I remind you that the police and gendarmes did not the power to sanction people, they just have the power to challenge them and use the force strictly necessary.
But today, they target them with LBDs, they ignore them and they leave. It doesn’t even serve to arrest and bring people to justice, it just serves to punish them. You put in the hands of the police and gendarmes the right to punish, to decide who is guilty and who is not on the battlefield, to punish him. ”
Laurent Bigot: “I don’t know, I don’t have a crystal ball. What I see is that there was a drift in public order which materialized again during the confinement. Once again, we had a lot of videos of degenerating controls, many testimonies expressed the incomprehension vis-à-vis the attitude of the police. It is not the majority, but it is already too much, that is to say arbitrary behavior by the police.
And that raises questions about the supervision of the police. What are the orders we give them? How is it that drifts are possible? And above all, how is it that there are no sanctions behind? If similar behavior is repeated, it means that there is no sanction. We are not reestablishing order within the police force, that is quite worrying. ”
Laurent Bigot: “It is so confidential that all the mainstream press has reported on it. Who benefits from the crime? You are preparing public opinion for the fact that if there are demonstrations, it is the work of radical people, so that justifies repression. That’s what it does. If there is social protest, however radical it may be, if it is social, how is the police response appropriate? If it is social, the answer must be political. Now what does power do? He sends the police. To prepare opinion for this, he leaked notes saying that there is radicalization, that these are the extremes of all kinds, right, left, environmentalists, dangerous people.
Whatever the highly reprehensible behavior of police officers and gendarmes, there is also a reality. The system in which law enforcement operates is completely toxic, that is to say that there is a total inconsistency between the political speeches, the orders they receive, the means they have to execute their missions and that provokes the behavior of totally disillusioned officials.
What does a public servant do when he is disillusioned, when he understands that he is being asked to solve problems that are beyond his control? Because his daily life is first of all in contact with human misery. When asked to settle political and social problems by policing, many police and gendarmerie officials understand that this is not their role. Because policies are discarded, they are asked to solve problems that they cannot solve.
This toxic environment means that you have totally disillusioned police officers and gendarmes. When you are disillusioned, you lose your discernment, you make amalgams which can then explain certain behaviors, but not all. It is also true that the police can no longer exercise their profession properly and that is the fault of the political authorities.
So today what’s going on? The police and the gendarmes attack the demonstrators, the demonstrators who attack the police and the gendarmes while the person in charge, nobody blames him, that is the political field. ”