Translated by SnakeArbusto, 99GetSmart

#13O in Paris “I don’t give a shit if the orders are illegal. Now move on!”

Personal account by a participant in the 13 October demonstration in Paris.

Paris, 13 October: For the worldwide #globalNOISE day of mobilization, a few hundred demonstrators marched from in front of Goldman Sachs to a spot near the National Assembly.

An action shot of French riot police in motion

French riot police (Photo: Angelo DeSantis / Flickr)

During the entire demonstration we were surrounded by close to 200 gendarmes mobiles riot police and a few Paris police officers. Several gendarmerie mobile vans led the way, followed by two lines of gendarmes, on each side of the street, and the same behind us, plus a few police cars.

What justification can there be for such a deployment of repressive force for a few hundred demonstrators, especially since those demonstrators, many times since the mobilization started a year and a half ago, have shown that they are non-violent towards both people and property?

What justification can there be for refusing to allow demonstrators to hand out flyers to passersby? Is there no longer any such thing as freedom of expression?

What justification can there be for preventing demonstrators from putting trash in the sidewalk trash receptacles, and preventing them from leaving the march to go to the toilet or simply get a drink of water? Is there no longer such a thing as freedom of movement?

Our demonstration against debt and for real democracy went to meet a few demonstrators who where paying tribute to the victims of Fukushima. I was at the back of the march and wanted to stop for a minute and take a picture of their banner and talk with them, but I was barely able to take my picture and I was prevented from going over to talk to them. I told one of the gendarmes that his orders were illegal and that it was his duty not to obey them. He answered “I don’t give a shit if the orders are illegal. Now move on!”

Later at the People’s General Assembly that was held near the French National Assembly, many people who came to discuss, express themselves, make proposals – in other words, to participate in democracy – were prevented from joining us.

During that same assembly, a decision was adopted to bring legal action against these unacceptable practices, and we are looking to call them out on any legal, citizens’, and media forum or outlet we can find.

I can hardly finish writing this post because I’m sobbing, and because all the tears I have in me won’t be able to anything, because totalitarianism seems to have taken one more step forward yesterday. And once again, it’s one step too many.

If you read this message, please pass it on and join us in denouncing the entire chain of command that is enabling the police to flout the law.