The attack against police officers:
❝Antifa❞ activists brought to trial
18th September, 2017
Nine accused are to appear in court in Paris, starting Tuesday [19th September], for the arson attack on a police car that took place on 18th May, 2016.
The tension is palpable. Nine accused, linked in one way or another to the “antifa” [anti-fascist] movement, which will be at the core of the proceedings, are to appear before the criminal court in Paris between the 19th and 22nd September, for the attack on a police car of 18th May, 2016.
On the morning of that day, police officers were rallying at the Place de la République to denounce “hatred against the cops” [haine antiflics], on the margins of demonstrations against the reform of the labour laws [la loi travail]. About 200 [anti-police] counter-demonstrators assembled on the edge of the square. At 12.22 p.m., according to video-surveillance, a majority of them left the scene. An undercover police officer then sees some individuals donning masks and “equipping” themselves. At 12.28 p.m., they pour onto the Quai de Valmy and block the traffic. Suddenly, one man notices a stationary police vehicle and points it out to others. Behind the wheel is a Security Assistant [adjoint de sécurité], accompanied by a female Guardian of the Peace returning from a gun-training session. The side windows, windscreen and rear window are kicked in or broken by a hail of metal objects. The driver is struck, and his colleague hit by a stone. Suddenly, at 12.32 p.m., a demonstrator throws a smoke-bomb. The Guardian of the Peace tells her colleague to leave the vehicle. He does so, and the car quickly goes up in flames. The Guardian is taken by the arm by a non-masked individual, who leads her away and attempts to intervene. The Security Assistant is again struck several times by a man wielding a metal bar wrenched from a shop-front. A demonstrator then intervenes, allowing the officer to walk away. After these events, the assailants depart — not without receiving applause and congratulations.
“All [nine] have been questioned during the course of an enquiry based on witness accounts, items discovered during searches, and the analysis of video-footage and telephone communications.”
And so there are nine, of whom three are still in detention, to answer for those few minutes. Their defenders can already congratulate themselves on a first success even before the proceedings begin. The initial charges of attempted lynching, a serious crime, have been dropped. No intention to commit homicide, no premeditated plan, no gang-attack. Three of the accused, Bryan Morio, 22, Angel Bernanos, 19, and Leandro Lopes, 33, who are defended by Maîtres Antoine Vey, Jérémie Assous, and Antoine Comte respectively, are charged only with participation in an unlawful and violent demonstration, and risk one year of imprisonment. The other six, Antonin Bernanos, 23, (defended by Maître Assous); Ari Rustenholz, 31, (Maître Martin Méchin); the Swiss Joachim Landwehr, 28, (subject to an arrest warrant); David Brault, 28, (Maîtres Marie Roch et Maud Kornman); Nicolas Fensch, 40, (whose counsel is none other than Éric Dupond-Moretti, famous and feared criminal defence lawyer); and Thomas Richaud, 20, (Maître Raphaël Kempf), are charged with assault.
All have been questioned during the course of an enquiry based on witness accounts, items discovered during searches, and the analysis of video-footage and telephone communications. The accused have two things in common: a propensity, to judge by the results of searches, to accumulate small arsenals of concealment aids (from ski-goggles to masks of various kinds, painters’ masks or gas-masks); and numerous tracts lauding the cause of the ultra-Left. Whether they are known to each other or not, they are united by the ultra-Left. According to the charges, the enquiry has confirmed the membership of all of the accused to the “antifa movement”. But they come with contrasting backgrounds. Students in sociology (Antonin being supported by his professors) and in geography, the brothers Bernanos, are great-grandsons of the catholic and Gaullist author of Grands Cimitières sous la lune; while Bryan Morio, Leandro Lopes, Ari Rustenholz, Thomas Richaud and Joachim Landwehr are “known” militants.
Committed and resolute
The top six offenders belong to groups like “Antifascist Action Paris-Suburbs” (led by Clément Méric), which sends out calls to support the accused; or Mouvement Interlutte indépendant [“Independent International Combat Movement”]. To the Swiss authorities, Joachim Landwehr is an “anarchist and antifascist activist, ubiquitous in street demonstrations in Geneva”. Last August, he was tried in the Geneva Police Court for having participated, masked, in a proscribed demonstration. According to the Tribune de Genève, he was acquitted.
The political commitment of David Brault (a trans-sexual, known as “Kara”) and of Nicolas Fensch is more unusual. An American citizen, David-Kara, of no fixed abode, has been in France since 5th May, 2016. He identifies himself as “anarchist-communist, ecologist, and radical feminist”. Former systems engineer, now unemployed, Nicolas Fensch is apparently a recent recruit to the cause. He owns an apartment in Seine-Saint-Denis, in which was discovered a tract entitled, “How I became a violent demonstrator” [Comment je suis devenu casseur]. Disgusted by “police brutality”, he wanted to “show in a violent manner that we don’t want this regime”.
What role did these six committed and resolute men play in the assault of 18th May, 2016? According to the prosecution, Antonin Bernanos, who denies it, struck the Security Assistant and threw a metallic object through the rear window. Ari Rustenholz, who refuses to speak, is accused of throwing an object through a rear side-window. Thomas Richaud admitted having pointed out the police car and striking it. As for Nicolas Fensch and David-Kara Brault, they have admitted to attacking the Security Assistant with a metal bar, and to throwing an object through the windscreen. Finally, the Swiss, Joachim Landwehr, is accused of having thrown the smoke-bomb while the police officers were still in the car. The six risk ten years in prison.
Fire-bombed police car : trial suspended
19th September, 2017
The trial resulting from the fire-bombed police car has been suspended this afternoon owing to organisational problems. The president of the tribunal announced that it would recommence tomorrow in a larger room. The hearing, held in a cramped room against the background clamour of supporters of the accused massed outside, had already twice been interrupted because of objections from defence counsel. […].
Translation by Edward Shilling