The demonstration of May 1st in France was enamelled with clashes between police officers and demonstrators. A video clip was posted on YouTube (it was deleted the first time for “copyright violation”, despite the uploader being the person who authored the video) by “Street News” in the aftermath of the events. It shows police officers violently pushing and several people, including an elderly woman, and locking them in a Parisian tobacco shop located opposite the Notre-Dame-des-Champs church, in the 6th arrondissement of Paris.
The following text is the testimony of the mother of the man who is assaulted by the police officer in the video:
“Testimony of May 1st 2019
I am 64-years-old, I was at the demonstration of May 1st 2019 with my 45-year-old son, his father, and some friends. We waited quietly near the Vavin subway for the departure of the procession in order to join it when we saw in the distance the fumes of tear gas and the movements of crowds.
Wanting to seek shelter, we went away as far as we could and suddenly a violent police charge pushed the crowd and we found ourselves stuck in the middle of a cloud of tear gas, the canisters flying all over.
My son went to an open shop, a tobacconist, where a few people had taken refuge, thus removing us from the trap of the crowd and passing behind the cordon of police officers who were in full charge and pushed the protesters. I was clinging to his backpack, panicking, but also being furious with such violence, and I shouted at them ‘stop, stop, but stop’, my son told a policeman, who was telling someone ‘get lost’, ‘get lost yourself’, and the policeman rushed at him and gave him a resounding slap.
I wanted to intervene by asking them to stop, the policeman wanted to catch me, my son remained stoic without being violent, he put me in the shelter but the officers wanted to extract him from the shop. I interposed myself, I received a blow, I was pulled back, we retreated and we took refuse in the shop, the people inside helped us to get inside the room. I did not let go of my son’s backpack, I did not want the policeman to hit him… for nothing… Once we were inside the men present protected us by closing the iron curtain and by keeping it closed.
There were several women, the air was charged with gas and was unbreathable. There were about 15 people. We coughed and spluttered. Behind the curtain the police continued to fight their way inside and punched it. It seemed that they wanted to enter. We were scared. After a few minutes they gassed with their CS spray [another person present during the incident thinks that it was a tear gas canister that landed near the curtain, but either way the police is to blame – ed], passing it under the iron curtain. It was hell. We were suffocating. One person managed to open a small door at the back of the shop so we could go out.
We found ourselves in the backyard of a building trying to catch our breath and our minds. My son supported and helped a woman in panic who could not breathe and cried. We helped each other as we could, water, coca, salt serum for the eyes was shared out by those who had it in their pocket …. Thank you to the owner of the Tabac for sheltering us. .. She too was gassed. Thanks to those who found the key and allowed us to go out. But we were not at the end of our troubles. We were hoping to go out by the door to the street, but the police were still there in ambush. There was no way of moving from there. Then we saw a group of policemen who took refuge in the hall of the porte-cochère who were also trying to catch their breath and apparently one of them was struggling to breathe. Taking advantage of the lull outside, several of us ran out holding each other by the hand passing in front of the police officers, happy to not be struck.
We took refuge in the garden adjoining the the church of Boulevard Montparnasse. And the hell continued, the gas continued, the canisters flew in all directions, they even fired a salvo of tear gas into the garden where there were peaceful protesters. I screamed, paralysed on the spot …
- My son was hit, for nothing.
- Women and men aged between 30 and 65 were indiscriminately gassed in a closed room.
- Voluntary endangerment of the life of others via asphyxiation by law enforcement bodies, who are supposed to protect us.
We are not breakers, but ordinary citizens demonstrating on May 1st as a family…”
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