Damien T. appeared in the box as if he came straight from the screens. Same olive-colored T-shirt, same thick hair falling over the shoulders. His image has been running for 48 hours, in slow motion, on smartphones and televisions. He is the “slap” of the President of the Republic. The one who, in response to the outstretched hand of a smiling Emmanuel Macron, grabbed the arm and slapped the tenant of the Elysee Palace, Tuesday, June 8, on the sidelines of a presidential visit to the hotel school in Tain- the Hermitage (Drôme).
After 45 minutes of deliberation, the criminal court of Valencia sentenced him this Thursday to four months in prison, and 14 months suspended. He was imprisoned. ” That’s all ? It’s not much, ”we were surprised on Thursday on the terraces near the courthouse. It is more, however, than the six months suspended sentence which had been sentenced to Nolan Lapie, who had slapped the former Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, in January 2017.
VIDEO. Emmanuel Macron slapped in the Drôme, two people arrested
This disruptor, close to the extreme right, it was precisely questioned before the aggression. “We are going to do a Nolan”, laughing Damien and his friends, Arthur and Loïc, in the car where they are waiting for the presidential convoy on Tuesday, June 8. Since the weekend, they have been thinking about how to mark this trip, which passes so close – Tain is a quarter of an hour from Saint-Vallier, their city. Damien thinks of throwing an egg, or a pie. The three friends take yellow vests, but leave them in the trunk for fear of being evacuated by the gendarmes. The idea of the French flag is also abandoned, for the same reason. Why not have simply spoken, expressed his demands, questioned the court? The defendant judges that words would have had “less impact”.
Finally, Damien approaches the barriers, hands in his pockets. A small group of demonstrators with banners and fluorescent vests were evacuated. He is hurt by this exclusion, he explains. And he does not like the president: “I think that Emmanuel Macron represents very well the decline of our country”, he says, voice calm in the extreme. He has never had to deal with justice, but the decorum, the journalists and the public, in tight rows on the eight benches of the great courtroom, do not impress him. “Can you speak into the microphone?” He will ask the prosecutor later.
Emmanuel Macron runs towards an impromptu walkabout before leaving by car. Damien T. says he was “surprised”. “He walked towards me with a completely sympathetic and lying gaze, to make me a potential voter, I was seized with disgust. He thinks the president targeted him because he is “young.”
“I did not see him on the roundabouts”
“Young”, the word comes back to Saint-Valliers, when the inhabitants evoke Damien and his friends, like him keen on martial arts and parallel worlds – those of role-playing games, video games, medieval fantasy. He devotes most of his time to these passions. Dyslexic, diagnosed with “high intellectual potential” in his childhood, he did not really study or take up a profession, after his bac S obtained in two years. Unemployed, receiving RSA, he has lived for two years with his girlfriend in a town house bought with the inheritance of his father, who died suddenly of a stroke. Her mother, a dance teacher, retired for a year, lives nearby.
“He has always been a little weird, not mean but a little aloof,” says Yohan, another “young” from the town. “He is not to my knowledge someone very politicized, I did not see him on roundabouts at the height of the yellow vests movement, and he never wanted to discuss politics with me, for example. . He was simply asking for authorizations to organize events with his associations ”, tells the Parisian, the mayor of Saint-Vallier (PS), Pierre Jouvet, met on the market this Thursday morning. The elected would like the case to remain that of “lost kids who just did anything”. Its citizens too, who are sorry for a “bullshit” of (big) kids.
But in his box, two hours later, Damien T. persists and signs. He claims to be a “yellow vest” and a “patriot”, without anyone really understanding what precise ideas these two terms cover in his mind. “Montjoie Saint-Denis”, his incongruous war cry, would be for him “a patriotic slogan”, “the rallying cry of the French knights”. Regrets ? “I regret the power of the gesture more than the gesture itself. “And to continue:” A feeling of injustice ran through me. (…) I think a lot of people feel this injustice. I felt a little invested. »Who dubbed you? »Asks the court. The fan of swashbuckling dodges.
If he claims to be the spokesperson for a cause that had asked him nothing, Damien T. considers it unlikely that he will one day serve as a model for others. “I don’t think this gesture could inspire others because it is extreme enough,” he replies. However, in the court itself, a mysterious candidate for the departmental elections from Annecy tried to afford a platform by becoming a civil party, trying to justify “the desperate gesture of a suffering population”. “Wait, reframe the president, are you a victim of sir, or are you his lawyer?” “I leave you in doubt,” he replies. His application as a civil party was rejected. When the judgment was pronounced, Damien T. did not show anything. The masked slapper left the courtroom handcuffed, in cathedral silence.