French black activist fined for defacing the colonial statue | World news
By MORGANE BONA, Associated Press
PARIS (AP) – A French court on Monday convicted and fined a black rights activist for defacing a statue he sees as an insult to democracy and the descendants of slaves.
Franco Lollia’s attorney accused the French judiciary of defending slavery and trying to make his client look “like a delinquent” rather than a campaigner for racial justice.
The court upheld the incident in question and sentenced Lollia on Monday for defacing property. In June 2020, the French activist “State Negrophobia” painted and sprayed red on a statue of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a 17th-century royal minister.
Among other atrocities, Colbert’s infamous Black Code allowed slaves to be branded, their ears cut off and executed if they tried to escape. The destroyed Colbert statue stands prominently in front of the lower house of parliament in Paris.
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Lollia said his act was purely political.
“We are deeply offended. With this statue in front of the National Assembly, the so-called House of the People, they democratically spit in our faces every day, ”he said.
The Paris court sentenced the spokesman for the militant anti-negrophobia brigade to a fine of 500 euros (US $ 597) and a payment of 1,040 euros (US $ 1,241) in damages to the French parliament. That was less than the € 800 fine that the prosecutor had applied for.
Guy Florentin, Lollia’s attorney, announced he would appeal the decision and called on the state to remove the Colbert statue.
“State negrophobia won a battle, but not the war. We will continue our fight, ”he told reporters. “We will also sue the authorities for defending crimes against humanity” because of the role of the French state in the slave trade.
The vandalism occurred a month after the US police murdered the American George Floyd, who stimulated anti-racism activists in France and other countries.
During the May 10 trial – which coincided with France’s annual commemoration of the abolition of slavery – Lollia’s defense team brought France to justice, detailing and denouncing the colonial atrocities.
Following the verdict, the activist said he was not disappointed.
“One of the reasons we did this action was to make this process a platform,” he said. “It should force the white French judiciary to take off its mask of so-called democracy, equality for all and social and racial justice for all.”
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