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Vice Fashion - French Riot Kids

Photos by David LedouxStyling by Marion ChambretteFrance is still a socialist fantasyland where healthcare is
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Κείμενο David Ledoux
1.6.07

PHOTOS: David Ledoux ASSISTANT: Alex Hughes STYLIST: Marion Chambrette
COORDINATED BY: Sofiane Deliere & Mathieu Berenholc

France is still a socialist fantasyland where healthcare is affordable, university is free, and it’s almost impossible to get fired. Tell that to any French kid and they’ll laugh in your face. Like past generations, French kids today are continuing in the tradition of political activism and constant protesting and now that the right wing conservative Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected president, there are demonstrations happening across the country on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, most of these protests end with tear gas and rubber bullets. We went to an anti-Sarkozy demonstration on May 16, 2007, and asked some protesters why they were there, and what was making them so angry.

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Marcel wears jacket by Surface2Air, shirt by Fred Perry

MARCEL, 23

Vice: Why do you protest?

Marcel:

To voice my discontent about the outcome of the election. I like to participate because you meet militants, and you’re free to voice your anger.

What do you dislike about the new government?

I think Sarkozy’s liberal politics might work for some, but a lot of people won’t be able to get the full benefit. Like his campaign slogan, “Work more, to make more”—a good idea in theory but he forgot to tell us how to do it.

Have you ever had any problems with the police?

During protests, no. But yeah, I’ve been stopped a number of times. There’s a total lack of respect on their part. And now the old chief of police has been elected president who knows what could happen? Like today you see all these riot cops, hundreds of them. Who do you think pays for them? It’s ridiculous.

Thibault wears jacket by Quickshark, T-shirt by True Rebel, jeans by Nixon

THIBAULT, 14

Vice: Why are you protesting today?

Thibault:

Well, a lot of people are here to protest the new government and Sarkozy, but I’m here to show my opposition to the entire system and the bourgeoisie.

Are you a member of a political party?

Nope. I don’t believe in picking sides, I’m neither left nor right. I mean, I’m definitely anti-Sarkozy since he represents the bourgeois morale. You know how they are, exploiting as much as possible to get the most for themselves.

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Ever had any run-ins with the cops?

Usually they surround us, and try to bust heads. I like to throw stuff at them like bottles, bricks.

Have you ever been caught?

No way. I run.

Lola wears jacket by Fred Perry, polo shirt by Fred Perry, jeans by Levi’s

LOLA, 22

Vice: So, do you come here often?

Lola:

Yes, I feel protesting is a great way to air your grievances against the state. I feel it can have a positive impact. Especially now that Sarkozy is in power because he’s dangerous.

What exactly do you dislike about the government and Sarkozy?

When he got elected it felt like a big “fuck you” to France. I think he’s going to change things for the worst. Sarkozy is basically a fascist in disguise. I’m worried about what he’s going to do to my country. I think we made a terrible mistake electing him.

Have you ever had any run-ins with the cops at any protests you’ve attended?

Personally I’ve never fought with the cops, but I’ve intervened a number of times when they’ve tried to arrest an innocent person. I just bought a camera, so I can document any injustices I might come across. Truthfully, I’m not a violent person, but I can see how violence can be used in a positive way.

Jawad wears jacket by Carhartt, jeans by Levi’s, trainers by Adidas

JAWED, 21

Vice: Do you participate in a lot of protests?

Jawed:

Yes, especially since Sarkozy decided to run for president. Last Sunday [election night] I was in the streets. Today’s demonstration is way more organised than the one on election night. That one was much more spontaneous. The atmosphere was livelier than this one.

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How would you describe your relationship with the cops?

I’ve always done my best not to get caught by the cops. I pay attention to what I’m doing, and where I’m standing. I’m vigilant.

Elsa wears jacket by H&M, jeans by Rica Lewis, cap by Nike

ELSA, 21

Vice: Why are you protesting today?

Elsa:

Well, I’m here to voice my opposition against Sarkozy, and his politics. We saw what kind of politician he was when he was the minister of the interior, and we all know he’s not working for our interests as students and workers. We’re all going to get screwed by his laws and reforms. We’re here to let the government know that we’re not going to take it.

Have you ever been arrested?

Nope. And I doubt anything is going to happen this afternoon since the cops have surrounded us. Maybe tonight at Bastille, but not here.

Sandra wears dress and tights by H&M

SANDRA, 19

Vice: Why are you protesting today?

Sandra:

We just elected a new president, and I think a protest is a good way to give the new government some positive ideas. I’m here because I want to be heard, but I’m not totally militant about it.

How do you feel about the new president?

He calls us thugs, but he’s never tried to hear what we have to say. Instead he uses the CRS [riot police] as his mouthpiece, and what good is that? He doesn’t solve problems, he just aggravates them.

How do you feel about the police presence today?

It’s like the night of the election. Hopefully they won’t start using tear gas to disperse the crowd. The cops are always the ones who instigate the violence at these things.