Applause, wreath laying, signatures of the condolence book and a minute of silence preceded by a Marseillaise and cries of "Long live the police" for an "apolitical and non-union" tribute ... Several thousand people, including a majority of police, gathered this Sunday at the beginning of the afternoon in front of the Avignon police station (Vaucluse) in tribute to Eric Masson, this 36-year-old police officer shot on Wednesday while he was intervening on a point of deal in the Intra-muros district.
Even if it was time for meditation, the police officers present who are waiting for "tens of thousands of people on May 19 to support them in Paris" also expressed "their anger and their disgust" in a rally without official speech.
A crowd of people gathered in front of the Avignon police station in tribute to Eric Masson
“We are waiting for government action, it is time for it to hit hard.
There is an escalation of violence throughout society and it primarily affects the security forces.
We find ourselves helpless in the face of this phenomenon, ”said three police officers stationed in the Vaucluse.
“It is the second colleague who is killed in less than a month, Saturday night there were riots in Fréjus… It must stop.
A policeman serves his fellow citizens, he is not a target ”.
“From what we know of the alleged killer, he was known for arms trafficking,” continues another policeman.
"Was it normal that he was outside?"
Those who attack the police are often well-known delinquents and criminals.
How many deaths will it take before we react?
While the investigation to find the shooter, who would not necessarily be one of the drug dealers, continues, the fed up was palpable among the police officers present.
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"I am sad, disgusted, disgusted, I hope that this new murder will raise awareness," said Jean-Pierre, stationed in the Gard, came with his wife and children to sign the book of condolences. “I know Eric Masson's father well with whom I worked. Her son is dead, her daughter-in-law a widow and her two orphan granddaughters. Dying in service like that is the worst that can happen ”.
“I am particularly moved because every day I intervene in the same way as Eric, it is my job and it is my daily life.
He did not have time to retaliate, I would like to know if it was because he could not or because he hesitated before drawing his weapon, as we all do ”, testifies Marion, a Marseille policewoman.
“One of those who was with Eric during this intervention is a friend from the police academy.
After the tragedy, I couldn't sleep for several days.
I remain angry today and I hope that there will be acts of the State ”, she continues.
His companion, also present, admits "being afraid when Marion takes her service".
"It can happen to any of us"
Coming especially from Aveyron to support “colleagues and family in pain”, Francis, for his part, expresses a certain weariness. "It can happen to any of us, we know it but we are all the same all stunned, shocked, especially since it was a completely trivial operation ...", he notes. “The penal response is no longer adapted to the situations we are living in, which are increasingly violent. While insults are not punished, we see that the police officer is no longer afraid and that there is no more respect towards him. Suddenly, we are on the front line ”.
"This job has always been dangerous, we know it when we engage, but it is more and more difficult", continues Alain Crostier, retired police officer.
“Violence today takes a seismic form.
I knew Eric Masson, we had already climbed Mont Ventoux by bicycle together to pay tribute to the couple of police officers killed in Magnanville in the Yvelines.
Once again, all the police officers, active or retired, are in mourning.
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In the crowd which invades the street to the ramparts, many inhabitants of Avignon are present. "The citizens are behind the police, there is no gap as shown by this surge of solidarity which we hope will last", appreciates Olivier Hourcau, deputy secretary general of Alliance, union which will boycott Beauvau de security on May 17. "We are there to collect ourselves with the family and loved ones, but the time for claims will come", he explains. On condition of anonymity, others question the policy of the fight against drugs "without additional means and in the face of dealers who are sometimes better armed than us".
"Avignon is plagued by drugs and dealers, they are everywhere, even in the surrounding villages", notes Pierre Jean, born in Avignon and now deputy mayor of Morières-lès-Avignon.
“Unfortunately, we live this every day, it is sad to see that we can no longer go quietly to certain areas of our childhood”.
The ceremony ended with tributes to Eric Masson, for whose family an online kitty was launched, and a wreath laying at the scene of his assassination.