Several dozen hooded far-right individuals, some armed with baseball bats, marched on Saturday November 25 in Romans-sur-Isère, following the death of Thomas, 16, in Crépol (Drôme) on previous weekend. The hundred or so activists found themselves near the Monnaie district behind a banner “Justice for Thomas, neither forgiveness nor forgetting”, according to images posted on social networks by this movement.

During the evening, a young activist from the far-right movement was hit and injured, the prefecture announced on Sunday. Originally from Mayenne, the man was “taken out of his car by force”, then “beaten up”, his vehicle “burned” and “he was badly bruised”, declared the prefect of Drôme, Thierry Devimeux, at during a press briefing. “His days are not in danger,” he clarified, condemning “strongly” the excesses of violence linked to the Crépol tragedy.

Saturday evening, the police pushed back the activists who had “come to fight” with the young people of the neighborhood, according to Mr. Devimeux. Around twenty arrests followed by seventeen police custody allowed calm to return, according to a police source. “The numerous police forces (…) will continue to act to prevent any additional violence, wherever it comes from, and find all the perpetrators of unacceptable acts,” the minister of the interior, Gérald Darmanin.

The activists, all young, came from different cities in France: Besançon, Paris, Montpellier and Nantes, according to the police source.

On Sunday, around forty activists gathered again in the city center of Romans-sur-Isère in small groups and were dispersed by the police, who made at least one arrest, according to the prefecture.

“A threshold has been crossed”

The parade in Romans-sur-Isère was condemned by political leaders. MP Sacha Houlié (Renaissance) pointed out on Franceinfo the “political responsibility (…), in particular of the National Rally, for disturbances to public order”. “The extreme right has a real responsibility”, approved the boss of the Ecologists, Marine Tondelier, on LCI “and this is not the first time, it has been rising for months, shouting “the street, France belongs” .

“A threshold has been crossed. A militia recruited from all over France came to attack the inhabitants of a working-class neighborhood,” the leader of La France insoumise (LFI), Jean-Luc Mélenchon, lamented on X. The political coordinator of LFI Manuel Bompard denounced on Cnews and Europe 1 “an attempt at ratonade” and denounced the desire of the far right to “give a political reading to these acts while the investigation is still ongoing” .

On the right, Julien Aubert, vice-president of the Les Républicains party, regretted on BFM-TV “the exploitation of a crime to try to advance dangerous ideas”.

The mayor of Romans-sur-Isère, Marie-Hélène Thoraval (Les Républicains), called on Sunday to “come around the table and work differently (…) faced with a level of delinquency which calls for other forms of response » in Romans-sur-Isère and other cities. She believes that delinquency has “its roots in radicalization” and “drug trafficking”.

Rising tensions

Saturday evening’s parade coincided with the presentation to the Valencia prosecutor’s office of the suspects accused of having participated in the violence which led to Thomas’ death. Nine young people, including three minors, were indicted, six placed in detention and three released under judicial supervision.

Fueled by virulent positions taken by the far right and the right on the theme of insecurity and immigration, tensions have risen since the violence in Crépol. On the morning of Saturday, a mosque in Valence received an Islamophobic letter mentioning the tragedy and tags were discovered on the walls of the mosque in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin (Manche).

A large white march in memory of Thomas brought together more than 6,000 people on Wednesday in Romans-sur-Isère, before his funeral, celebrated on Friday in the presence of 2,000 people. This weekend, the world of rugby, a sport he played, is paying tribute to him with a minute of silence during all matches.