1ST PRIZE - OPEN CALL 2023
Throughout the longstanding insurrectional history of France, police violence has never been a new phenomenon. In the summer of ’68, Maurice Grimaud, the Parisian police prefects, reminds his men that “to hit a man on the ground is to hit oneself”.
Amidst the repression of the “Gilet jaune”- movement in France, and today with the protest against the pension reform, we can observe an obvious rise of mutilated people during citizen demonstrations.
artist: Alan Jeuland
Over the years, the French police force became more militarised and the political marshalling took a more offensive turn. Flash balls, crowd control grenades, defence ball launcher: The use of these weapons are braking jaws, tearing off hands, making people go blind and putting them into coma. Besides the physical mangle, psychological traumas appear with an euphemised aftermath.
Paradoxically, for many of these protestors, the violence by the police has only made them more invested in activism. They have become more involved, organised and created networks of solidarity and their commitment against police impunity has now become of paramount importance.
This photographic series tries to remain distant from the common representation of police violence in an attempt to discover a different narrative. We need time to perceive what is crucial for the victims; through this work there is a search for insight and understanding.
Yann - barman19 January 2019 - Toulouse
I stood on one side when I saw the guys from the BAC ( police special unit) coming. I put my arms up, I put my head down, it was done, I was stuck. When they got to me, I still had my arms up. The first pass, the second one doesn’t even look at me. The third one bludgeoned me in the elbow. The fourth one emptied his tears gas tank in my face. The next one came over and hit me in the teeth with his baton. He knocked me out, I passed out. When I woke up, I spit out my teeth and just heard the cries of the wounded, who were in the square. The «street-medics» took care of us. The cops had left me and a few others badly injured as well. It went very fast and I didn’t understand much.
1 December 2018 - Paris
It was my first protest. I don’t understand what kind of violence I represented knowing that I was on the phone alone. It was voluntary, he wasn’t aiming at anyone else. I would like him to come in front of me to talk about it, I would like to understand why he shot me. There must be a reason.
Mathieu - Doctor
Sociologie April 2013 - Toulouse
To cover themselves up, they filed a complaint against me. They accuse me of contempt and rebellion. There’s also a complaint against me against them that won’t lead to anything. I was arrested, strangled, suffocated by three «baqueux». They shook me up a bit in the car, but it was mostly at the police station. They handcuffed me, they put my head in the walls, in the doors, they threw me on the floor, they left me in the «OPJ» corridor, before finally , at dawn they put me in an ambulance towards the hospital, still handcuffed. The cop refused to untie me, the nurse asked for it because they had broken my wrist.
Multiple injuries and fractures
Jérôme - Art Historian
2 February 2019 - Toulouse
I became involved in the «observatory of police practices» by the end of December, following the first demonstrations in November, yellow jackets. I was outraged by the police violence that was taking place and which, at the time, was not covered by the mainstream media. After the injury, it was only confirmer that the «observatory» was necessary. I could have stopped it altogether or participated in it from afar. I said to myself, it can’t be ended like that, all this violence, it’s there to make people scarded, to create a climate where people say to themselves: you shouldn’t go and demonstrate, it’s dangerous. We’re not demonstrators, we’re «observers», but it seemed to me that we were playing the game of the government and the forces of law and order if the conclusion of all this was that I should stay at home. On the contrary, I really wanted to go back.
11 stitches on the forehead - head trauma