Étienne Balibar sent us a manifesto published in the French press some days ago. He believes, and we concur, that this open letter should also be known in English. The document is of great significance and warrants close examination. Furthermore, the recent events in France are of utmost importance, and our digital publication is committed to investigating this critical moment and comprehending the implications to grasp what is happening in today's postcolonial Europe.
The nation is grieving and full of outrage. Nahel's murder at close range by a police officer in Nanterre has laid bare the effects of decades of discriminatory public security policies targeting working-class neighbourhoods and the young people who grow up there, particularly racialized and disadvantaged individuals. The escalation of violence has reached an impasse and must stop. The predominantly repressive approach of the police, and the legislative changes introduced in 2017 concerning the use of service weapons, aggravate what the population is experiencing and suffering in terms of discrimination and racist practices.
The tensions between the population and the police have a long history, marked by injustice, prejudice, violence, discrimination, sexism... and a systemic racism that permeates through the whole of society and has yet to be eradicated.
Residents of the neighbourhoods concerned, and women in particular, often have to make up for the lack of public services on their own. It is the regression of these services - schools, places for sharing and culture, sports facilities, the post office, administrative services, etc. - and the decline in state support for associations, which have largely contributed to the marginalisation of these neighbourhoods and of entire areas, particularly in the French overseas territories.
The abandonment of these neighbourhoods is exacerbated by the economic context of impoverishment, inflation, rising rents, energy prices and the reform of unemployment insurance. Children and single mothers are primarily impacted by social inequalities. The uprisings in working-class neighbourhoods, in response to the tragedy in Nanterre, have brought to light these issues.
In addition to decades of law-and-order policies, security laws (global security law, separatism law...) and exceptional measures, we have been witnessing pressure from the government over the last few days to introduce expeditious justice. It is unacceptable to have a system of preventive detention that results in progressively harsher sentences.
It is not necessary to resort to repression, as it may only bolster the far right and hinder the progress of protecting rights and freedoms.
Lasting peace is only possible if the government takes the necessary measures to respond to the urgency of the situation and the demands of the populations concerned.
The UN has repeatedly criticised security policies and the institutional problems of racism in France, particularly in the police force.
Discrimination is a toxic poison that undermines the very idea of equality and creates despair.
The far-right is using this to further divide society. We denounce the call for civil war against working-class neighbourhoods, and the characterization of people from these neighbourhoods as "nuisances" by police unions.
We condemn the creation of a fund in support of the policeman who killed Nahel, initiated by a member of the far right, and the absence of any action by the government, thus adding fuel to the fire.
Everything needs to be rethought and rebuilt. We need to start from new foundations, create broad discussion forums and learn from decades of public policy mistakes, while respecting the histories, backgrounds, cultures and singularities that underpin our collective aspiration to equality. It's high time we listened to and took into account the demands of people living in working-class neighbourhoods, especially young people!
The situation requires the government to assume its responsibilities and provide immediate responses to end the confrontation:
● Repealing the 2017 law relaxing the rules on the use of firearms by police;
● Far-reaching reform of the police force, its intervention techniques and weapons;
● Replacement of the IGPN by a body independent of the police hierarchy and political power;
● The creation, within the administrative authority, of a department dedicated to youth discrimination, chaired by the Rights Defender, and the strengthening of resources to combat racism, including within the police force.
Nothing can be done, however, without a new way of redistributing wealth and combating social inequalities. Nothing can be done without the fight against poverty and precariousness, aggravated by climate change, rising rents and charges, and without the strengthening of public services and popular education. These are the areas that the government should be tackling, instead of pursuing regressive public policies that provide a breeding ground for the far right.
Our trade unions, associations, collectives, committees, and political parties are mobilised to maintain public and individual freedoms.
In the immediate future, we are calling on people to join all the rallies and marches around these demands, throughout the country from Wednesday July 5th, following the example of the march organised by the Comité Vérité and Justice pour Adama on July 8th, in Beaumont-sur-Oise, and that of the Coordination Nationale contre les Violences Policières on July 15th.
We are calling for citizens' marches on Saturday July 8th throughout France and its overseas territories.
We will work together to ensure the success of these mobilizations.
Signatories of the appeal:
Michel Agier, anthropologist ● Etienne Balibar, philosopher ● Eric Berr, economist ● Jacques Bidet, philosopher ● Yannick Bosc, historian ● Saïd Bouamama, sociologist ● Gérard Bras, philosopher ● Christophe Broqua, anthropologist ● Philippe Büttgen, philosopher ● Laurent Cesari, historian ● Bernard Charlot, pedagogue ● Francis Chateauraynaud, sociologist ● Cyrielle Chatelain, MP EELV ● Laurence De Cock, teacher ● Christian Delarue, union leader ● Julien Dufour, sociologist ● Philippe Enclos, legal scholar, union leader ● Benjamin Ferron, sociologist ● Charles Fournier, MP EELV ● Alain Frappier, illustrator ● Désirée Frappier, actor/playwriter ● Jean Gadrey, economist ● Fabien Granjon, sociologist ● Aurélie Gries, educator/union member ● Mej Hilbold, pedagogue ● Véronique Kannengiesser, academic ● Thomas Lacoste, filmmaker ● Mathilde Larrère, historian ● Frédéric Lordon, philosopher ● Sandrine Lucbert, writer ● Corinne Luxembourg, geographer ● Gilles Manceron, historian ● Caroline Mecary, barrister ● Christian de Montlibert, sociologist ● Bénédicte Monville, élue municipale et communautaire écologiste de Melun ● Emilie Morand, sociologist ● Pascal Nicolas-Le Strat, sociologist ● Julien O’Miel, political scientist ● Marie Pochon, MP EELV ● Emmanuelle Posse, philosophy professor ● Matthieu Renault, philosopher ● Sandra Régol, MP EELV ● Carole Reynaud-Paligot, historian ● Fabrice Riceputi, historian ● Michel Rousseau, co-president Tous Migrants ● Jean-Marc Salmon, sociologist ● Gisèle Sapiro, sociologist ● Sabrina Sébahi, MP EELV for Nanterre ● Anthony Smith, union leader ● Julien Talpin, political scientist ● Pierre Verdrager, sociologist ● Bernard Vernier, anthropologist ● Mélanie Vogel, senator EELV ● Jean-Luc Gautero, philosopher ● Annie Thébaud-Mony, sociologist ● Pascal Binet, academic/economist ● Marc Tomczak, academic/engineer ● Martin Thibault, sociologist ● Claude Calame, anthropologist ● Caroline Zekri, linguist ● Adda Bekkouche, maire-adjoint de Colombes ● Rose-Marie Lagrave, sociologist ● Gugger Sylvain, academic/economist
Unions: ● CGT ● CGT Protection Judiciaire de la Jeunesse (PJJ) Centre-Est ● CNT-Solidarité Ouvrière ● Fédération Syndicale Étudiante (FSE) ● FSU ● Mouvement National Lycéen (MNL) ● Solidaires Étudiant-e-s ● Strass - syndicat du travail sexuel ● Syndicat des Avocats de France ● UNEF le syndicat étudiant ● Union Étudiante ● Union Syndicale Solidaires
NGOs: 350.org ● Adelphi’Cité ● Agir contre l’extrême droite - Debunkers de hoax ● Alternatiba ● Alternatiba Paris ● Amnesty International France ● ANV-COP21 ● APEL-Egalité ● Arte Chavalo: Art et culture sur les bidonvilles Marseille ● ATMF ● ATTAC France ● Bagagérue ● Bissai Media ● CNAFAL ● Conscience ● Construire ● Coudes à Coudes ● DAL Droit au Logement ● Destins Liés ● FASTI (Fédération des Associations de Solidarité avec Tou-te-s les Immigrés-e-s) ● Fédération Nationale de la Libre Pensée ● Fédération nationale des maisons des potes ● Femmes Egalité ● Fondation Copernic ● Gisti (Groupe d’information et de soutien des immigré·es) ● Greenpeace France ● Jeune Garde Antifasciste ● L’Offensive ● La Carmagnole (Montpellier) ● La Fabrique Décoloniale ● Le mouvement ● Les Amis de la Terre France ● LDH (Ligue des droits de l’Homme) ● MRAP (Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l’Amitié entre les Peuples) ● Memorial 98 ● Observatoire nationale de l’extrême-droite ● Organisation de Solidarité Trans (OST) ● Oxfam France ● OzACTES Quimperlé ● Paris d’Exil ● Planning familial ● Réseau d’Actions contre l’Antisémitisme et tous les racismes-RAAR ● REVES Jeunes ● SORORE ENSEMBLE ● SOS Racisme ● Tous Migrants ● Une Idée Dans la Tête ● Union Juive Française pour la Paix (UJFP) ● VISA - Vigilance et Initiatives Syndicales Antifascistes ● Association Henri Pézerat - Santé, Travail, Environnement
Collectives: Alliances et Convergences, ● Assemblée des Gilets Jaunes de Lyon & Environs ● Colère Légitime, ● Collectif Chardon Ardent ● Collectif civgTENON ● Collectif des Écoles de Marseille (le CeM) ● Collectif du 5 novembre - Noailles en colère (Marseille) ● Collectif Justice pour Claude Jean-Pierre ● Collectif National pour les Droits des Femmes ● Collectif Nouvelle Vague ● Collectif Quotidiens de Racisées ● Collectif Vérité et Justice pour Safyatou, Salif et Ilan ● Collective des mères isolées ● Comité de soutien à Moussé Blé ● Comité de soutien aux Soulèvements Royans-Vercors ● Comité des Soulèvements de la Terre Sud-Essonne ● Comité justice et vérité pour Mahamadou ● Comité Les Lichens Ardéchois ● Comité les Soulèvements de la Terre Lyon et environs, ● Comité local de soutien aux Soulèvements de la Terre Aude ● Comité local de soutien aux Soulèvements de la Terre de l’Eure ● Comité local de soutien aux Soulèvements de la Terre Quimperlé ● Comité local de soutien aux Soulèvements de la Terre Romans-sur-Isère ● Comité local de soutien aux Soulèvements de la Terre Villefranche ● Comité Lumière pour Sabri ● Comité nîmois de soutien aux Soulèvements de la Terre ● Comité Soulèvement Bas-Vivarais ● Comité Vérité et Justice pour Adama ● Comité Vérité et Justice pour Ali Ziri ● Coordination des comités pour la défense des quartiers populaires ● Démocra’psy ● Dernière Rénovation ● En Gare ● Justice pour Othmane ● La Bande Passante ● La Chapelle Debout ! ● La Révolution est en marche ● La Terre se soulève en Corrèze ● Le Peuple Uni ● Le Printemps du CARE (Collectif Autonomie, Révolte et Entraide) ● Les Inverti.e.s ● Les Soulèvements de la Terre - comité Île-de-France ● Les Soulèvements de l'Entre2Mers (33) ● Lyon en lutte ● Lyon Insurrection ● Nîmes Révoltée ● Réseau GBM ● Rejoignons-nous ● Syndicat des quartiers populaires de Marseille ● Youth for Climate IDF
Political organisations: ENSEMBLE! – Mouvement pour une Alternative de Gauche, Écologiste et Solidaire ● Europe Ecologie Les Verts (EELV) ● Front Uni des Immigrations et des quartiers populaires (FUIQP) ● Gauche démocratique et sociale (GDS) ● Gauche Ecosocialiste (GES) ● Génération.s (G.s) ● La France insoumise (LFI) ● Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA) ● Parti Communiste des Ouvriers de France (PCOF) ● Parti de Gauche (PG) ● Parti Ouvrier Indépendant (POI) ● Pour une Écologie Populaire et Sociale (PEPS) ● Réseau Bastille ● Révolution Écologique pour le Vivant (REV) ● Union communiste libertaire (UCL)
Translation: Ronan Kemp
Image: Violences urbaines Nahel Besancon-Planoise 29-06-2023 CC BY-SA 4.0