“Thomas, we love you”, “Justice for Thomas”… Several thousand people marched in silence, Wednesday November 22, in Romans-sur-Isère (Drôme) behind these large banners, in tribute to the 16-year-old high school student killed Sunday stabbing on the sidelines of a ball in the small village of Crépol.

At the head of the procession, around fifteen young people from the RC Romans-Péage rugby club walked with their blue jerseys crossed out with “Thomas rest in peace”, in memory of their young captain. The athletes then formed a guard of honor upon the arrival of the procession in the city stadium.

“Your presence in numbers testifies to the extraordinary attachment that Thomas had when we crossed his path,” greeted a representative of the organizers of the march which ended with a release of balloons accompanied by a minute of applause, followed by of a time of contemplation.

The crowd numbered around six thousand people according to the gendarmes. March organizers had called for an “apolitical” gathering out of respect for the family.

Call for “decency” and “restraint”

On Wednesday evening, Emmanuel Macron denounced “the terrible assassination” of the 16-year-old teenager, “an attack which marked us all”. “We have to face more and more episodes of violence against you, elected representatives of the Republic, but also episodes of violence which have marked us all,” noted the Head of State in a speech to mayors, invited to a reception at the Elysée.

The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, also called on Wednesday for “decency” and “restraint” in the face of the emotion caused in the country by the murder of the teenager. “Today is the time for investigation and reflection,” said the head of government, recognizing that this “drama raises broader questions” such as that of “delinquency in rural areas”. “Using this tragedy to play on fears is a lack of dignity and respect for the victims,” continued the Prime Minister.

The government spokesperson, Olivier Véran, for his part denounced a “political controversy” surrounding the tragedy. “Asking questions and providing answers to the French is normal,” he declared during the weekly report of the council of ministers, criticizing on the other hand the desire to “exploit” and “try to ‘instrumentalize a political trial’, ‘before having the answers to the questions that are asked’.

Assuring that he “would not” himself “enter into the controversy”, Olivier Véran referred to the courts the task of communicating on the first elements of the investigation.

Nine people arrested, including the main suspect

Nine people, suspected of having arrived armed at the village festival, were arrested on Tuesday and placed in police custody. The main suspect, aged 20, “formally designated as the perpetrator of the fatal stabbing”, lives in “the center” of Romans-sur-Isère and “not the Monnaie district”, one of the city’s housing estates, specified the Valencia prosecutor. Three of the nine suspects are minors over the age of 16.

As soon as the facts were known, the right and far right multiplied tweets and statements linking this act and immigration, like Marine Le Pen, president of the National Rally group in the National Assembly.

“We are witnessing an organized attack, emanating from a certain number of criminogenic suburbs in which there are armed “militias” carrying out raids,” she declared in an interview published Tuesday by the weekly Valeurs nationaux.

Former far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, for his part, denounced, on Monday, on the social network the death, at the end of June, of the young Nahel M. during a police check in the Paris suburbs, which triggered several nights of riots throughout the country, and the murder of a professor, Dominique Bernard, in Arras, in Pas-de-Calais, last month.

Sunday’s violence also left eight injured, including two young people aged 28 and 23 who were hospitalized in absolute emergency, in an improving condition, with no life-threatening prognosis. Thomas’ funeral is planned for Friday in the village of Saint-Donat-sur-l’Herbasse, neighboring Crépol, according to the daily Le Dauphiné Libéré.