About thirty students from the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS) were arrested by the police on Monday January 23 at the Condorcet campus in Aubervilliers (Seine-Saint-Denis), in Paris.
Opposed to the pension reform project of the government of Elisabeth Borne, the students occupied a local association to express their rejection of the text. They were suspected of having “degradation of public goods”. Their arrest, like the intervention of the police on a campus at the request of the president of the university, has been decried in university circles. We went to this campus to collect testimonies from university students.
Last Monday, a general meeting was held organized on this installed campus. Some of the students decided to occupy, as a protest against the pension reform, an associative and cultural room installed at the bottom of the university campus. The security forces appeared about twenty minutes later to arrest and embark 29 students.
The students, placed in police custody, were suspected, according to the Bobigny prosecution, of “damage to public property”. They were suspected of having damaged access doors, painted surveillance cameras and covered the glass surfaces of “blackout strips to prevent any visibility from the outside”. After 22 hours in police custody, they were released without any grounds for prosecution, explained one of their lawyers.
This intervention by the police on the campus, requested by the president of the Condorcet campus, Pierre-Paul Zalio, was qualified “Political Mistake of the Year” by a student.
Questioned by Mediapart, the people arrested described a climate “intimidating”. “We are taken away, handcuffed by two, we remain standing in vans, the police drive like crazy, they make us fly in all directions”, explained a student.
Sixteen of them were crammed for hours in a glass cell of “two by two meters” before a long night without eating, sleeping, or even “go to the toilet”. Scattered in different police stations for questioning by the judicial police, the students were released 22 hours after their arrival, at the request of Pierre-Paul Zalio.
Law enforcement on campuses… “irresponsible and dangerous”
The “Solidaires” student union at the EHESS quickly denounced, the next day, the intervention of the police on campus, demanding the lifting of legal proceedings against the students. In the process, a protest movement took place on Tuesday, January 24, surrounded by a strong police presence.
🛑 Rally against the police presence in our universities today at 2:30 p.m. in Espace Françoise Héritier (in the hall of the Humathèque) 🛑 pic.twitter.com/rZR8VLukQ8
— EHESS student solidarity (@SolidairesEHESS) January 24, 2023
EHESS students were not the only ones to denounce a police intervention in the university. A week earlier, the police evacuated a general assembly at the University of Strasbourg.
Yesterday, the president of the University of Strasbourg called in the police to prevent the holding of a General Assembly. Solidarity with students.
A little word @DenekenMichel @unistra ? https://t.co/ONj37T7DOK
— Cem Yoldas (@CemYoldass) January 20, 2023
Vincent Legeay, a teacher-researcher from the University of Créteil, present at Tuesday’s rally, described the events “hallucinating”qualifying the solicitation of law enforcement “irresponsible and dangerous”. “University presidents should not feel empowered to do this”he believes.
The law guarantees both students and teachers an absolute right to “political expression at the university”where “political rallies, protests” are “legitimate”. It suits, “at all costs”, not to bring in the police, recalls public law professor Stéphanie Hennette-Vauchez.