Sacha Coatantiec (his last name is of Breton origin) carries the purple flag of his student union, Acción Pirata.
He is 21 years old, with curly hair and is dressed in a black T-shirt and leather jacket.
He studied Geography at the University of Nantes and placed himself, along with several colleagues, at the head of the demonstration of his city, Nantes.
He is the leader and founder of the union, which groups 80 students.
Young people have joined these days of protest late (this Tuesday the 28th was the tenth) against the decree that raises the retirement age of Emmanuel Macron, but there is no one to help them.
Next to Sacha is Dragan Auverty, a journalism student.
He goes with a camera to take photos and with a helmet in case things with the police get ugly (which it will later).
He wipes his glasses.
He checks that he is carrying liquid to splash in his eyes against the stinging tear gas.
He talks about Macron's lack of democracy for having approved the retirement law by decree, that he trusts the institutions less and less, about the uncertainty of a dark future.
Then he thinks and adds: “You know, what we young people feel is that everything is speeding up, that crises are speeding up.
I have already lived many.
Too many: 2008, the pandemic, war, inflation, the general crisis of the planet.
There is a feeling among us of urgency, that things have to be fixed quickly,
The demonstration starts.
According to the unions, there are 60,000 people.
According to the authorities, they do not reach 18,000.
Less, in any case, than the 40,000 who marched five days ago, on Thursday the 23rd. News arrives that the influx in Paris has also decreased compared to last week.
Passing by the headquarters of the prefecture, several hooded youths, dressed in black, the so-called
, from the extreme left, regrouped, protecting each other with umbrellas, forming a gigantic turtle.
Hidden, they paint the walls of the prefecture: “Sainte-Soline: the day of revenge has arrived”.
The graffiti refers to the extremely violent confrontation between police and environmentalists that took place on Saturday around the town of Sainte-Soline.
There were serious injuries on both sides.
One of the ecologists is still torn between life and death.
One more example of the destructive drift in which France is immersed.
Sacha talks about youth precariousness, unemployment, what awaits him when he finishes his degree.
Later, he sings with the others a slogan that mentions the union between students and workers to strengthen the protest.
Then he joins the global chant against Macron.
The President of the Republic arouses all the hatred of this march, all the reproaches, all the blame.
There are cartoons, insults, slogans and dozens of banners alluding to him.
One of them simply says: “Manu, bye”.
There is an old phrase by Victor Hugo that has suddenly become famous and is now carried on many banners and reproduced at full speed on social networks.
He says thus: “Yesterday, you were a crowd.
Today, you are a people”.
He alludes to a comment by Macron, who stated days ago that "the crowd had no right to take to the streets."
Some protesters protected themselves from tear gas during the demonstration on Tuesday, March 28, in Nantes.
There are families, but few children are seen because everyone knows that this is going to break out at one point or another.
There are thousands of trade unionists, with the orange and red vest of the CGT.
And there are also thousands of students, many dressed in the blue smocks of doctors or nurses.
Along the sides, the
, in black, with their umbrellas and their masks, slip through the alleys that run parallel to the main avenue along which the bulk of the march walks.
One of them is collecting stones along the way.
He keeps them in the pockets of his black sweatshirt.
Another dumps containers and sets them up as barricades.
Another has climbed a pole and, amid thunderous applause, knocks over a camera recording the demonstration.
Tituan Guihd, 21, a history student, also from the Acción Pirata student union, defends them: “They don't break things just to break things.
They only go for capitalist symbols, like a bank office or advertisements.
They have an ideology behind.
They are not just barbarians.
And if a container burns, well, nothing happens either.
The violence that comes from the other side is worse, that of the police, which feeds the other side.”
Riot police line up on both sides.
They are more and more numerous.
They wear dark helmets, batons, blue body armor, and clear plastic shields.
They are gathering by squads, they advance to the race.
Next to a van with a PA system, a young man yells that rights were never earned by law.
"From the French Revolution to the vote for women, everything was won on the streets, this is where those battles are won."
Next to it, two
push an empty container full of bottle husks and take it to a corner.
At 2:00 p.m., the street has become a battlefield.
In the background, the most violent demonstrators challenge the police by throwing stones, empty bottles or small rockets at them.
The riot police answer with batons, with tear gas bombs.
Six protesters pass along the sidewalk carrying a wounded man whose head is bandaged, his face covered in blood and his eyes lost.
Everything turns whitish and an acid smell of the smoke from the tear gas appears.
Many protesters take refuge in bars, shops or doorways from where, mute, they watch the war, recording everything with their mobile phones.
One of them, when asked why every demonstration in France ends in disaster, answers with a smile: "It's within our culture, like the
Adèle Gratadon, on the left, together with her friend Lola Pierre de Ming, carry a banner in which they have pointed out all the historical protests in France, since the French Revolution.
The text says: "There is nothing more legitimate than the people in the street."
There are more young people surrounding Sacha's group, located far from the fighting, a little to the rear.
Adèle Gratadon, a Literature student, knows perfectly well why she is there: “I fight because the Government despises people who demonstrate, because they don't listen.
And also because, although my retirement is far away, we must fight for that of others, for that of the older generations.
This is not about my retirement, or anyone else's.
It is about society in general, about everything.”
In the afternoon, the city has turned into a guerrilla warfare madness.
Dozens of hooded youths come to a corner, pile up the garbage accumulated in so many days of strike in the middle of the road, add carts they find in a nearby supermarket and pallets found from nowhere and set fire to the mountain of waste and steel that burns like a pyre reaching almost a story high.
Meanwhile, in the background, next to one of the bonfires, Sacha and his gang of friends pass by (none with their faces covered, none with stones or Molotov cocktails), carrying the little purple Acción Pirata flag as high as they can.
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