Gatherings in Paris Honor Death of Student and Anti-facist Activist, Clément Méric

Place Saint Michel, where one of the largest demonstrations took place. Photo: Olga Symeonoglou

Place Saint Michel, where the largest demonstration took place.
Photo: Olga Symeonoglou

Early in the morning on Thursday, June 6, police confirmed the death of Clément Méric, a student and social activist at the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris.  The 19-year old student and anti-facist activist received a fatal blow during a brawl in the neighborhood of Havre-Caumartin (9th arrondissement) with a group of young skinheads, members of a subculture movement of the far right.  Eight suspected individuals have been taken into custody by French law enforcement as of Friday morning.

Méric, who had moved to Paris in September of 2012 to study at the university, was purported by his peers and high school headmaster, Jean-Jacques Hillion, to be “a model student.”  Originally from Brest, Méric passed the culminating high school French test, the baccalaureate or “le Bac,” with honors, granting him placement at the highly prestigious university of Sciences Po, generally considered one of the world’s most renown and prestigious schools of social science.

An active youth even before attending university, the headmaster further reported that Méric had led a movement in 2010 against the right’s agenda of high school reform and was the leader of the Brest section of the National Confederation of Labor (CNT), an anarchist-syndicalist movement.  At Sciences Po, Méric became active in the student union Solidarity Sciences Po, as well as the group Antifascist Action – Paris Suburbs (AAPB).

Yet, despite his activist involvement, Méric’s friends and family insist that his message was not one of party politics.  His message was one of anti-facism, commented his relatives, with a fellow member of Solidarity Sciences Po adding that Méric was “critical of the Left Front and the UNEF (the National Union of Students of France), which mobilize today around his name.”

“All of the current politicking would make him pissed,” continued the student, who’s real name was not published.  “He was killed for his ideas,” commented a fellow first year, interviewed by the French newspaper, Le Monde.

Political or not, Clément Méric had been vocal about his beliefs, participating in several events in the past few months, supporting the law on gay marriage and denouncing the resurgence of homophobia.  In a video on the internet, Méric appears, denouncing “le Manif pour tous” (“Protest for all”), a series of anti-gay marriage protests playing on the name of the rival group “Mariage pour tous” (Marriage for all”).  In the video, Méric wears a red scarf on his face, indicative of the redskins, a militant left wing subculture group.

On Thursday afternoon and evening, gatherings took place across Paris and other major cities in France, brining attention to the death of the young activist.   The largest demonstration took place in Paris’ Place Saint Michel, near the university of Sciences Po.  Alexis Corbière and François Delapierre, two leaders of the Left Wing party, were present, along with friends of Méric whose words and banners sent the message to “stop the violence and the hatred” and reminded the world that the victim was “forever one of us.”

“It’s too easy to wash your hands, to say this is a random act.” Mr. Delapierre told reporters.  “Everyone should consider it his duty to take care of it and solve this problem that can disfigure our country.”

Though police investigations are still ongoing, the large number of witnesses and use of CCTV enabled the police to take eight individuals, all between the ages of 20 and 37, into custody.  Four of the suspects turned themselves in, and were likely not present at the moment of the crime; they are expected to be released sometime on Friday.

The police investigation and witnesses’ testimonials have confirmed that the brawl took place outside a private retailer on the rue de Caumartin.  Méric and his group of friends were said to exchange “taunts and jeers” with a group of skinheads outside the apartment where the sale is taking place.  Before a full-blown brawl between the two groups started, Méric was punched by one of the assaulters, and fell on a nearby pole, knocked unconscious.

The man believed to be responsible for delivering the fatal blow is Esteban M. (last name not given), identified by visual witnesses and telephone recordings from the scene.  He is believed to have been wearing brass knuckles.  An autopsy on Friday will be used to confirm or deny this suspicion.

According to police quoted by the newspaper Le Point, “there is no doubt he is the author of the punches, but the intent to kill was not demonstrated.”

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  1. […] in the morning on Thursday, June 6, police confirmed the death of Clément Méric, a student and social activist at the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris.  The […]

  2. […] Gatherings in Paris Honor Death of Student and Anti-facist Activist, Clément Méric (lajeunepolitique.com) […]

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