The video of the collective arrest of dozens of high school students in Mantes-la-Jolie provokes strong reactions

They are dozens of teenagers, lined up in rows, kneeling on the ground, in silence, hands behind the neck, heads down, their backpacks high school students on the shoulders, supervised by policemen in uniform, standing, helmeted, armed with batons and shields. "This is a class that is wise," can we hear a man comment on one of the videos - and very relayed - on social networks Thursday, December 6 evening.
The scene took place in Mantes-la-Jolie (Yvelines) a few hours earlier, at midday: 153 high school students were arrested "collectively" by law enforcement officials as a result of violence on the sidelines. blockages at high schools Saint-Exupéry and Jean-Rostand, two institutions located 500 meters from each other in the heart of a suburban area, near the city of Val-Fourre. "These images are impressive but no young people were hurt or mistreated, we have not registered any complaints," said the prefect of Yvelines, Jean-Jacques Brot.
It had been several days since the tension rose in Mantes-la-Jolie. First near the two institutions, Tuesday, December 4, where several garbage cans were burned and projectiles launched on the police, who fought back with tear gas canisters. "Around 200 hot young people have stoned the police by throwing stones," says a resident. "The prefect asked not to use tear gas, but the situation began to degenerate, said Thierry Laurent, the cabinet director of the prefect, who went on site. The police could not repel young people who were not high school students. There, two or three teargas grenades were thrown and the dispersal took place. "

"Throwing stones and pebbles on the police"

The escalation of violence continued the next day. The rally of some 300 high school students in front of Jean-Rostand quickly degenerated with "barricades fires" followed by "throwing stones and pebbles on the police," says the same witness In parallel, a small group entered the surrounding homes to steal a dozen bottles of gas, which would have been thrown into a fire. "But fortunately, they did not explode," said the resident, who saw the young people then heading to Val-Fourre. "We then gave instructions not to prosecute them, " said the prefect's cabinet director.We are in a logic of de-escalation. " On Wednesday, five young people were placed in custody, according to the prosecutor of Versailles, Vincent Lesclous.

Thursday morning, the first bins were burned around 9 am in Saint-Exupéry before two vehicles ignited in the parking of the ice rink, 300 meters from the hotel. "The high school students wanted to block the entrance to the school, located in a dead end, but they quickly turned around because the police, who were hiding around, waiting for them, details a resident. As the day before, they then wanted to attract them to Val Fourre, except that the police were spread on both sides of the street. Suddenly, they all got stuck behind the House of Associations-Agora, located in front of the Lycée Saint-Exupéry , where the videos were shot. "
In the evening, these images aroused many indignant reactions. "Ice cold, inadmissible. This is not the Republic. French youth humiliated. But what does power seek if not anger in return? " Asked the leader of Génération.s and former socialist presidential candidate, Benoît Hamon, on Twitter . "Intolerable," commented former Minister and CEO of Oxfam France, Cécile Duflot; "Unacceptable images , supported Ian Brossat, deputy mayor of Paris. The deputy The insubordinate France of Seine-Saint-Denis Eric Coquerel denounced an "unacceptable and humiliating violence". "Scary. And unacceptable from a human and democratic point of view, " also posted another LFI MP, Clémentine Autain.

Interpellation dozens of high school students near the high school Saint-Exupery Mantes-la-Jolie (Yvelines), December 6.
Interpellation dozens of high school students near the high school Saint-Exupery Mantes-la-Jolie (Yvelines), December 6. SEIZURE DECRAN / THE WORLD

"I do not know other methods"

"How do 70 policemen keep 150 young people calm? They had to find ways to keep them quiet. I do not know other methods, " answers Thierry Laurent. "We asked the police to intervene calmly in the face of this mixture of high school violence and urban violence," explains Préfet Brot. And we decided with the public prosecutor that we had to make stops. "
Review of the day: 190 held in custody throughout the Yvelines department, including 153 in Mantes-la-Jolie. But not everyone lives there. Some would live in Les Mureaux, Bonnières-sur-Seine or Freneuse. The youngest is 12 years old, the oldest is 20 years old. "There would be a lot of our students among the arrested as well as students of high schools Rostand and Condorcet [in Limay]  " , reports a teacher of the high school Saint-Exupéry, present several days before 8 hours around the school for "Calm the game" and "make yourself available to talk to students". "We lived, Thursday, a situation as complicated as it is unpublished," he adds.Since there were practically no students - the school advised them for several days to stay at home - we were gathered together for a GA in the teachers' room before being confined. "

Most of the 79 youths released were minors under 16 years of age. "And for the most part, there was nothing more to reproach them than participation in an armed crowd," said the prosecutor of the Republic of Versailles. One hundred and ten guards were extended and seventeen young people were to be brought Friday morning, among whom sixteen minors, mainly for acts of violence (throwing stones on police officers, burning cars ...) and acts of rebellion and violence. contempt. For others, investigations are still ongoing. "Some people had bottles of gas," says Lesclous.The images of these collective arrests can strike, it is certain, and it is true that, from memory, one never saw that in the Yvelines, but in the face of the violence of these last days, one had to opt for a solution of preserve the order. "