Roma camp attacked during the night by armed men: the police of the BAC open fire on the victims

by ERIO on February 13th, 2015

Article translated by Sean Nolan (ERIO)
Original source by Tieri Briet, Mediapart
A serious occurrence
Something serious has just taken place in France. Another step in the banalization of a state racism. A friend of mine wrote to me last night to warn me about what was, and so I am passing this information on to you. Thus writers, poets or novelists, journalists or bloggers from all over may help to echo what the Roma people are going through nowadays in France and in Europe. We need to report. We need to witness. I am quoting Philippe Lagatie, a long-time friend of Roma families living in the camp that suffered from the police’s attack.   

Sunday 8 of February 2015, four agents of the BAC (the anti-criminal branch) intervened in the Roma camp of Quatre-Cantons, near Lille. It was dark, close to 10 pm and everything was calm in the camp. Without uniforms or armbands, in civilian cars, the police men immediately gazed the inhabitants of the camp that came close, worried about such an intervention.

A witness describes the scene: “They arrived looking drunk and drugged, they fell on their own twice as they were advancing through the backfill.”

Without any reason nor explanations, they assaulted several people. Mainly children. Some adults chased them from the camp, forcing them away in a pacific manner in as far as they could, in order to protect the children. The policemen drew their weapons and fired shots in the air. A tear gas grenade was thrown, and its fumes burnt the eyes of several children.

Reinforcements were called. As soon as they arrived, police men in uniform yelled at their colleagues for their unjustified behaviour.

One child was strangled, another person’s eyes were hurt: two wounds cause by a tear gas grenade. Some families are still in shock, eyes burnt by the gas.

No one has yet been taken in for questioning, and no arrests have been made.

The next day, we still do not know the reason for the attack.

Anna Maria, one of the mediators of the camp and a young mother, tried to talk to the police. She was met with insults and was molested by the policemen.

Information source: Secret Lazar , médiateur Rom, 
Philippe Lagatie
This morning, Monday 9th of February at 9:30 am, testimony of Philippe Lagatie:

“I am coming back from the camp this morning, where I was supporting my friends, trying to comfort them, making sure that the children were ok, in company of Pat Bardet.

Llittle Maria, six years old, has had her coat torn by a police man. The tear itself is 15 centimetres long going from the bottom to the middle of the coat. The coat can still close but the filling escapes through the tear. She had come over to my home Sunday afternoon, and her coat was then in a good condition.

The children, who invited me to have some fried sunflower seeds for breakfast, told me that “the policemen threw a bomb that burst into fire and then boom”, probably a tear gas grenade?

The adults were all shocked by this act of violence and were not able to sleep.

The leaders of the community were contacted by the AFP, an investigation has been opened, and some actions are being discussed.

The adults who normally have a good relationship with the police, who at times have to visit the camp, were all surprised by these unusual and ultra-violent actions, especially since they did not announce themselves or ask anything. They proceeded instead to throwing tear gas directly.

The French speakers among them were also very shocked at the string of racist insults. We still do not know why they came, and the AFP does not have any more information for the moment.

The league of Human rights (LDH) was informed, in Paris and Lille. The judicial services of the LDH will contact the prosecutor.

Photos were taken by the Intercollectif Rom 59-62 who arrived just after the events. They will be disseminated at a later date.

A child was indeed strangled by a policeman, he has now recovered but still has strangulation marks.

The wounded adult, M.D., has two small wounds next to his right eye on the eyebrow and on the upper cheek which were caused by the tear gas grenade.    

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