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“Insults and violence” towards elected officials, “it is unacceptable”, denounces the Association of mayors of France

“Shouting and lively exchanges are part of the democratic debate, but insults and violence are unacceptable”, denounces on franceinfo Gilles Leproust, communist mayor of Allonnes (Sarthe) and member of the executive board of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF). Asked about the 1,300 attacks, threats or insults recorded against elected officials in 2020, he confirms feeling “a stronger tension today”, in particular linked to the Covid-19 epidemic. To curb the phenomenon, the AMF asks the government for a faster reaction from the justice system in the event of an assault on an elected official “to show clearly that these situations are not acceptable”.

franceinfo: The verbal or physical attacks of elected officials have tripled in one year, does this data surprise you?

Gilles Leproust: Not necessarily. For several reasons. The first is that there was a renewal of mandates last year, so I think that there is now no longer the will among elected officials to file a complaint and report when there has been an assault. verbal and even more physical aggression. And then I believe that secondly, the situation of the Covid makes it strain human relations and that can lead some to behave unacceptable.

Are the mayors elected “within range of bawling” as some say?

Yes, but “within range of yelling”, that’s not what is more worrying. No, there it is not shouting in question, it is serious insults which can go up to physical acts. For elected officials and their families, this is unacceptable! Shouts, I had of course, and sometimes insults, each time I relate the facts. But I feel that things are more tense. For example, there are inhabitants in the city, very minority, who refuse to say hello to me because they do not agree with an act of the town hall or such thing. We feel a stronger tension today undoubtedly. The debate, yes. The shouting and lively exchanges, yes, that’s part of the democratic debate, but it must end there. Insults and violence are unacceptable.

Do you mean that relations have grown strained since the start of the pandemic?

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Undoubtedly. There is the fact that there is less social life, that associative life in its diversity is reduced. I am thinking of sporting life, for example: beyond sport, it allows you to meet your friends, whatever the age, to discuss, to ask how things are going for the youngest child, etc. Today, that no longer exists.

“There are fewer valves, less places to express yourself.”

Gilles Leproust, Communist mayor of Allonnes, in Sarthe

to franceinfo

So we feel that things are tense and sometimes relations can be much more strained with a certain number of inhabitants.

Do you consider the training courses organized by the gendarmes useful to enable elected officials to better manage conflict situations?

Yes, training is important, it can be useful to help each of the elected officials to better control this situation. I was a local civil servant, I did hospitality, I received training in my professional career that helped me better understand when there were moments of tension. The other important aspect, the AMF has moreover asked the government and the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Justice, is that this type of situation must be dealt with very quickly via a intervention of the police or the gendarmerie. But it is also necessary that justice deals as much as possible directly to show clearly that these situations are not acceptable. For speech to be freed, we need support. More generally, this is true for the whole of society, when the inhabitants of our municipalities are subjected to aggression, the police, the gendarmerie and the judiciary must also be reactive in order to restore confidence in the community. public matter.

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