French Human Rights League Statement After Act 22 of Yellow Vests in Toulouse

OPP – Observatory of Toulouse of Police Practices

Press communique following the demonstration on April 13th 2019

Act 22 of the Yellow Vests revealed further serious violations of the freedom to demonstrate and of the physical integrity of the demonstrators through reprehensible police practices.

While the demonstration was taking place on the Alley of Jean Jaurès, all four sides were encircled, preventing the demonstrators from leaving.

This was obviously planned and organised before the start of the demonstration.

The tear gas, which was launched on a massive scale, created a warlike atmosphere. Many people found themselves in a situation of respiratory distress without having any possibility of leaving the Alley of Jean Jaurès.

The prefecture therefore chose force and repression before the outbreak of any confrontation or the commission of a deterioration by the demonstrators.

In addition, and for the first time in probably a long time, trade unions and associations were not able to advance along the route sanctioned by the prefecture. A demonstration that the prefecture took pleasure in banning in fact.

During the rest of the day, the OPP observed a disproportionate use of force and the illegal use of many weapons, including grenades.

In particular, police officers from the Anti-Crime Brigade attacked the demonstration on Carnot Boulevard by throwing grenades so that the crowd moved away and they could confiscate the banner. The OPP was thus able to establish that these allegedly defensive weapons were still used in an offensive manner by law enforcement.

In the late afternoon CRS forbid, at Jean Jaures, commuters from leaving the metro and forced those who were nearby to rush into the entrance of the metro. Truncheons and gas were used against those who were on the stairs. Those who refused to go down were shoved and fell to the ground – a surreal sequence that made many people uncomfortable with an operation that involved parking the protestors in the metro entrance. The OPP saw police throwing flash bangs so that they exploded at the level of the head or back. These examples are not exhaustive.

OPP members were wounded during the day by flash bangs, truncheons, or tear gas. OPEC members were also verbally threatened by BAC police.

The OPP also noted a significant number of injuries. Street Medics were also injured – one was evacuated on a stretcher.

The police practices observed during this Act 22 of the Yellow Vests are a new illustration of the massive, disproportionate, aggressive, and often brutal use of the force denounced in the report that will be made public on Wednesday, April 17th 2019 during a press conference at 10:30 am at the headquarters of the LDH and at 8pm at the Bourse du travail.

Toulouse, 14 April 2019

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