Brutal fascist attack on student occupation at University of Montpellier

Brutal fascist attack on student occupation at University of Montpellier

A group of men in balaclavas carrying batons and tasers attacked students occupying a lecture hall at Montpellier University. Some of the attackers have also been identified as faculty members.

The attack took place late in the evening, after a national day of strikes and demonstrations organized by public sector unions. Students all over France had joined the marches, protesting against a recent law which establishes a form of selection at the entrance of universities. The student movement, which started on February 1st, led to a wave of occupations in universities in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille, Strasbourg, Tours and Paris. Some of these occupations led to police interventions, like in Bordeaux, where students were beat up by riot cops on March 7.

But in Montpellier, where police apparently refused to intervene when a group of students occupied a law faculty lecture hall, some of the men who attacked the students have been recognized as faculty members. A far-right blog also attributed the attack to the GUD, a violent fascist group. Four students were hospitalised, including two with serious skull injuries.

Testimonies gathered the next day described the dean of the law faculty, Philippe Pétel, as the organizer of the attack: he apparently opened the doors to the dozen hooded men, and cheered as students were beat up. On the next day, during an interview, he appeared remorseless, and said he was "proud" of those who had resisted the occupation of the university by protesters.

After news of the attack broke out, hundreds of students gathered in front of the law faculty in Montpellier on March 23, asking for the dean's resignation. Gatherings and demonstrations were also organized in Rennes, Bordeaux, Lyon, Tours and other cities. In Paris, three hundred people gathered in front of the Sorbonne before being kettled. The dean eventually announced his resignation earlier today.

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Mar 24 2018 15:22


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jef costello
Mar 25 2018 16:34

According to various accounts.

Pétel had encouraged a group of non-strikers who had been threatening the occupiers throughout the day saying things like "sleep with one eye open" "Don't complain when you end up in casualty". This group, including an assistant professor beat up a lone student earlier in the evening.

Pétel entered the room and counted the protesters, saying "Ok, it's good" shortly before the attack. Pétel told occupiers to leave saying that "things were about to warm up" (Ca va chauffer), he got the fire safety officers (the men in red in the video) to open emergency exits, pointed them out and then the masked group of about ten, including 4 teachers, came in and started attacking people and continued hitting people trying to help the injured get out. At least 3 occupiers were sent to the hospital. During the attack Pétel said "he who sows the wind, reaps the whirlwind" and turned to a student he thought was sympathetic and gave a thumbs up as another student was beaten. Once the protesters has been driven out, Pétel remained in the room and ordered all the doors closd and refused access to the police.

Youtube video.
The young woman filled the attack, she says pretty much "people came in and started hitting everyone, it was late there were only about 50 of us. When they saw me filming they came for me."

Pétel's defence is broadly, "The police could have cleared the room earlier, there were only 30 people there. The students they were upset, they cleared the room. I didn't bring anyone into the room. These things happen, there were 30 or 50 of them and the students were upset. So it happened."
He does his best to avoid putting together an actual sentence or stating anything clearly. The police had refused to expel occupiers earlier in the day (under French law the police cannot enter universities without authorisation from the head of the univesrity, and giving that permission is seen as a big step. At Nanterre ten years ago the Dean tried to give the internal roads at the campus to the city in order to brign in police without having to give permission.

Firday 16th a group of armed and masked men from the Groupe Union Defence entered the Self-managed high school in Paris, hit two students, smashed a window, made Nazi salutes and insulted studnets and staff. The School is an experimental establishment designed to welcome students aiming for a creative path and who have often had difficulty in the standard system.

This follows a violent attack, the latest of a series against squatters, on a artists' squat in Aubervilliers in February where a group of thugs armed with sledgehammers, iron bars axes and angles grinders destroyed the living space and beat up the inhabitants. They also returned to threaten them after they reported the crime.

Mar 26 2018 10:05

Second video added to the article above.