Clément Méric, a 19-year-old left-wing activist, was left brain dead after a violent scuffle with far-right skinheads at around 6pm near Saint-Lazare train station in Paris. The aggressors have not yet been apprehended by the police.
According to French media, a scuffle took place between a group of left-wing individuals and far-right skinheads. Witnesses said that “ranger boots and bomber jackets-clad” skinheads started shouting at and shoving the group that included Méric.
The altercation escalated and after people joined the far-right group as backup, it turned into a full-fledged fight. During the fight, Méric was violently beaten by several skinheads, including one sporting brass knuckles, according to witnesses. A brass knuckles blow allegedly knocked Méric off his feet. During the fall, his head hit a metal pole with “a loud thud,” a witness told French newspaper 20 Minutes.
Méric was tended to by bystanders as he laid unconscious and bleeding on the concrete, before being rushed to the hospital “in a desperate state.”
There, the 19-year-old student was declared brain dead by the medical team during the night, AFP reports.
For French minister of Interior Manuel Valls, the violence is most likely politically motivated and bears “the mark of the far right”. Valls called for a fast investigation and arrests to be made “as soon as possible.” French President François Hollande condemned the aggression “with the utmost firmness.”
Méric was originally from Brest in Brittany and moved to Paris where he was a first year student at the prestigious Science Po Paris. There, he had joined the left leaning student union Solidaires. His fellow union members issued a statement saying “the death of our comrade is set in a context of the progression of the fascist movement in France and in Europe.”
The left-wing party Parti de Gauche said in a statement that the far-right skinheads were members of the extreme-right Jeunesses Nationalistes Révolutionnaires (Nationalist Revolutionary Youths). Their leader, Serge Ayoub, a figure of the 1980s Parisian skinhead scene, denied members of his organization had anything to do with the aggression. “This is absolutely not true” he told AFP before adding that it was the left-wing group who instigated the violence and dealt the first blows.
Far right party Front National (National Front) leader and MEP Marine Le Pen also denied any involvement of her party with “these unbearable and unacceptable acts.”
A rally in memory of Méric has been organised by left-wing organisations today at 5pm.