French Police Complain Over Lack of Punishment for Far-Left Black Bloc Militants

Protesters known as "black bloc" hold a banner reading 'under the hood everything is gang' during a one-day nationwide strike over President Emmanuel Macron's policies on October 9, 2018 in Nantes, western France. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)
LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

Police in Nantes have expressed anger at the light punishments courts have given to far-left Antifa black bloc militants who violently attack officers at demonstrations, some incidents resulting in serious injuries.

While the French government has called on police to confront and break up violent black bloc rioters, officers in Nantes say that the local prosecutor’s office often hands out lax punishments and sometimes release the violent extremists without charge.

A police officer, using the pseudonym Sebastian, told broadcaster Franceinfo how black bloc extremists threw bottles and stones at him and his colleagues, and described how the court released one attacker, a Spanish-speaker, because no translator was available.

Prosecutors also allegedly released one rioter on grounds there was a lack of evidence against him, despite the militant admitting to investigators that he had thrown glass bottles and other projectiles.

“The individual was not prosecuted ‘for lack of evidence’. We were left in complete confusion and dismay. This means that even when we see the individual attacking and throwing bottles, when he admits to doing so, when he says he belongs to the black bloc movement, well, the case is simply closed in court!” Sebastian said.

“It’s been like this for the past 10 or 12 years in Nantes. They’re afraid of the police, because they’re running away, but they’re not afraid of justice,” the officer added.

“The fatigue is increasing in the ranks of the Nantes police officers: too much leniency on the part of justice, a lack of support from the hierarchy,” a local police union said, revealing officers were leaving the job over the lack of support.

Police are often the targets of Antifa black bloc members at demonstrations and have been attacked not only with Molotov cocktail firebombs but with chemicals, such as during a protest last year in Paris.

Anifa extremists have also been arrested for allegedly plotting to murder police officers as recently as last month when seven far-left extremists were arrested. The group’s leader, 36-year-old Florian D., is said to have fought with Kurdish YPG forces in Syria.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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