How oppression works

Tonight, I was cycling towards my favorite pub in Calais. I’d seen a pretty girl smile at me there the previous night, and I hoped I’d see her again, just to see if I’d have the guts to ask her name. On the way, I saw a CRS van parked on the side, 4 officers surrounding a man with a crutch. Sorry, I meant 4 White officers surrounding a Black man with a crutch.

It seemed like the ID check was either taking place, or had already done so. At any rate, they were just standing there, in front of the van. I was cycling lazily ahead, and then back, on the pavement. It was night. There was no one else on the road, save some people in a bar ahead. No one cared, a few people passed by and did not stop. Routine.

I cycled back once more, and stood 10 meters away, looking at the five of them, for a minute or so. Then came the call. ‘Sir.’ I pretended I hadn’t heard, and decided to leave before my own privacy would be violated. But it was too late. They chased after me, and I couldn’t pretend anymore, so I stopped.

‘_ Sir, you realize you were almost fleeing from us there, that was dangerous for you. You could go to jail for that. Also, you don’t have the right to cycle on the pavement. That’s an offense.
_ Oh yeah?

_ Yes. Can we see your ID please? Okay. Follow us please. Dismount.’

So I did, and we walked back to where the van was, for another ID check and more bag-searching. Unlike last time, I wasn’t able to pretend I wasn’t No Borders. They remarked that I didn’t have any bike lights on.

‘Well, no but I got those thingies…

_ So you’re a native of Calais?

_ Yes. And you, what are you a native of?

_ Paris.

_ Oh. And what are you doing here?

_ Well, you know that. What are you doing?

_ Well, looking for a job!

_ Oh!’

Ah, dialogs with the CRS, it’s just so frustrating and yet challenging, trying to get messages across whilst toeing PC lines.

So they have me put the bike on the side and empty my bag, where a lot of stuff I hadn’t intended for them to see turned up. There were witness statement forms for migrants, there was the brand new local newspaper translated into English, after the discovery of which they knew I was obviously a No Borders, there were bike tools, and there was an old notepad on which I’d written things about the ‘outrage’ offense that I wouldn’t have shared with my very soulmate, which I explained away as a ‘hobby.’ They read intensely through it all and that was so embarassing.

They then listed the various ways in which they could do me: cycling on the pavement, no bike lights, and ‘outrage’ itself. Yes, because I rolled my eyes, and if you roll your eyes at a police officer in France, they can get you for that. But, the officer is more than happy to give all my stuff back and let me go. Hence, I could see that there was no problem. Was there a problem?

‘_ Nah, everything was normal.

_ See? Then people see the devil everywhere.

_ Well, I’m not gonna say what I think.

_ It’s a democracy, you can. Here’s your things.

_ It’s a democracy to some extent, and to another extent it’s not. I’m not saying what I think.

_ Well you might want to find a real job.

_ Well I’m not gonna say what I think.’

It’s probably the most you can say without getting into trouble. Hinting that you may have some radical ideas in your head about the bullshit they’re saying. I pack up my stuff and they leave, saying goodnight.

Everything was normal. It was all done according to procedure. No one was hurt, save that an innocent man was probably taken to custody, which means he was kidnapped and confined for no good reason. And in that weather he may not have cared, cause migrants are treated like shit and have very little shelter. That’s right. Migrants sometimes prefer to be kidnapped and confined in State cells rather than face the cold nights. And then cops get arrogant over that. How fucked up is that?

They could do me for a number of offenses that should not be offenses, but they decided not to do so, and all but asked me to be grateful for that. That’s how oppression works: the State will not prosecute every single person, it would be too ruinous and unworkable. But it will keep the threat of punishment present, and use it mainly on those who show a very slight amount of resistance, as when I was simply standing, watching them. Remember too that the only reason they let me go is that they were satisfied I was no threat to them. It’s only because I stopped showing defiance that they left me alone.

As I also said to the cops, I didn’t do any harm, and I take care not to. But they don’t care. They have rules to follow, and that’s all they care for. They think democracy is a matter of procedure, I think it’s a matter of justice.

Needless to say, by the time I reached the pub, I was too crushed to do shit. The girl was there, but I just said ‘Oh hi,’ had a beer and went home. Hopefully, she’ll be there again tomorrow, and I can start the conversation.

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4 Responses to How oppression works

  1. AsTeR says:

    Hi Sir,

    Your blog is really cool, I like the way you approach thing : moral and society paradoxes. You have time to lost, I won’t try to discuss with CRS, a butch of simple minded guys recruited on the basis of violence and obedience… not philosophers.

    I’m as shocked as you when I see racist cops. My personnal testimonial take place in the parisian tube, a crowded tube, where two cops enter, one black man was standing near the door with his hands in his pockets : “Sir put your hands of your pocket”, the black man obeyed silently… The two cops where satisfied…

    Have a nice day !

    • littlehorn says:

      Pas la peine de parler anglais, je suis français 😉 Merci d’être passé et de laisser un commentaire.
      Les mains en dehors des poches c’est un classique pour la police pendant un contrôle, qui m’a déjà presque coûté une garde à vue tellement ça m’a mis hors de moi. Je n’ai pas encore réussi à comprendre pourquoi, mais j’imagine que c’est parce qu’ils pensent qu’il pourrait y avoir une arme cachée. C’est ce qui arrive quand on est ‘protégé’ par des inconnus qui n’ont aucun moyen de connaître le danger qu’ils encourent. Un très haut de niveau de précaution est la conclusion logique d’une autorité distante qui estime le niveau de risque potentiel de régner sur soixante millions de personnes. Et il y a effectivement des morts parmi les flics. On est tous pareils à leurs yeux.

      No need to speak english, I’m French. Thanks for passing by and leaving a comment. Hands outside pockets is routine during a police check, it’s almost cost me an arrest once, so irritated I was. I haven’t managed to understand the reason, but I imagine it is because they think there might be a weapon hidden inside. That’s what happens when you’re ‘protected’ by strangers who have no way of knowing the level of danger they face. A very high level of caution is the logical conclusion from a distant authority that assesses the potential risks when ruling sixty millions of people. And there are deaths among cops. We’re all the same in their eyes.

  2. AsTeR says:

    You write in English, I’ve choosen to answer in English 😉

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