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The sight of the French police standing by as the 2nd. Breaking 500 people in a curfew to attend an illegal rave has embarrassed the government and raised questions about why the reveal was allowed to continue for two nights.
The party started on New Year’s Eve last Thursday in two disused hangars in a rural area in northwestern French Brittany and had become major international news the following day.
But it was until Saturday morning, more than 36 hours after the techno music pounded out of the speaker banks for the first time, before police entered the premises and began to seize material and warn attendees.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who regularly takes up incidents of crime or disorder as evidence of France’s alleged decline, accused centrist President Emmanuel Macron of being « overwhelmed by a simple rave party. ». .
For them, the event highlighted « the worrying collapse of state authority » while the local party leader claimed the police had « surrendered to a few punks with dogs ». .
Reactions on social media have ranged from envy among those who missed nightclubbing for most of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, to ridicule and allegations of double standards.
Some have suggested that the police would have reacted differently if the party had been held in a predominantly immigrant area outside of Paris, where, for example, the recent protests against Black Lives Matter have featured major arrests.
Others have contrasted passive policing with action against anti-government « yellow vest » protesters in 2019, whose street demonstrations, sometimes illegal, were often confronted with tear gas, tranquilizers and rubber bullets.
The local authorities have defended their decisions, but questions remain – especially why the rave was not prevented at all.
Before New Year’s Eve, the Home Office announced that 100. 000 police officers would be on duty to prevent gatherings or illegal parties, and France would be under a nationwide curfew of 8 p.m. to prevent social mixing.
There are still around 15 every day. 000 new coronavirus cases, and the government has been closing bars and restaurants since Jan.. October a second national lockdown began.
Although the police knew a rave was being organized thanks to the online news gathering, they were guessing its location until the last minute – as were the partiers themselves.
Security forces observed several locations in eastern and central France, but were surprised when the organizers switched to the warehouses near the village of Lieuron, south of the city of Rennes.
« It was announced after 8 p.m. after the curfew started, » Brittany prefect Emmanuel Berthier told reporters. « Security guards learned about it at the same time as potential participants. «
Vans with sound equipment, generators and DJ decks had already arrived when police tried to prevent people from entering by car or on foot.
A relatively small number of officers were outnumbered and were showered with stones and bottles in the stalemate that followed. A police car was set on fire and three officers were slightly injured.
Pierre Sauvegrain, head of the national police in Brittany, said it had been decided to « break up » to « prevent the situation from degenerating further ». .
Police said they were focused on restricting access and that no new vehicles had arrived after 10 p.m. after New Year’s Eve.
The rave was allowed to continue, creating the harmful images played on French television and abroad by the police standing by while music was booming in the background.
« As soon as it comes to 2. 000 people starts, you can’t stop it, « an experienced organizer told AFP over the weekend.
The electricity could not be interrupted because the organizers had generators and the police were unwilling to evacuate the area by force – or were unable to muster enough numbers to do so.
After a meeting at the Home Office on Friday evening – as a sign of how serious the situation had become, it was led by Minister Gerald Darmanin himself – reinforcements were sent.
Before dawn on Saturday the sound systems stopped, the participants started to leave and by noon the police had moved in and taken control.
They warned 1. 200 people for violating coronavirus restrictions and hundreds of others for drug offenses. Police used torches to examine ravers’ eyes for evidence of ecstasy or other drug use.
Two people, both in their early twenties, have been arrested as suspected organizers and face heavy fines if found guilty.
France, coronavirus, rave
World news – AU – Mass rave during pandemic leaves questions for French police – RFI
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