Eco-warriors in “Le Monde”, a hesitant look at radical environmental activists

Un tree can hide the forest. Or hide in its branches a “eco-warrior”. It is from the branches of Fontainebleau that this word has fallen into the columns of the World, January 6, 1995. Pascale Sauvage reported on the arrest of three activists who were leading “a real guerrilla” against the National Forestry Office (ONF), whose mercantile management they denounced. Accused of depredations, the three men found themselves imprisoned in Fleury-Mérogis prison.

From the outset there was a debate that two words will sum up. Was it there “eco-warriors”, the chivalrous version, or “eco-terrorists”, its evil counterpart? Combatant, even resistant, of the environment, as these women and men see themselves, determined to free themselves from certain rules to advance a cause deemed superior? Or delinquents, even criminals, whose operating methods and calls for insurrection are incompatible with the laws of the Republic and even with democracy, as decided by Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, by obtaining in council ministers the dissolution, on June 21, of the organization Les Uprisings of the Earthfollower of collective actions around the mega-basin of Sainte-Soline or on other hot spots of environmental struggles?

During the trial of the three of Fontainebleau, the two theses are opposed in the courtroom. Cécile Prieur reports on October 29, 1996: ” The prosecutor (…) considers that the defendants “are not defenders of nature driven by an ideal, but dangerous, manipulative and dishonest offenders”. » Conversely, Mᵉ Henri Leclerc defends that ““The opacity of certain administrations, coupled with a commercial conception of public service, has prohibited dialogue and encouraged the use of violence.” (…) “These actions imply a responsibility: the responsibility of a society that does not listen to its citizens. Because their actions, certainly inappropriate and useless, are somehow citizens. » The three men are sentenced to suspended prison terms.

“They have curious quirks”

The “eco-warriors” or “eco-warriors”, depending on the mood of the correction of the World, more rarely baptized “eco-combatants”, are the French version of the eco warriors Anglo-Saxons who have already acquired a solid reputation in the United States or the United Kingdom. In his column of June 16, 1997, Pierre Georges takes an amused interest in these Dogmatix that perch in the trees to prevent them from being shot. “It is necessary, in this stiff and funny world like a spin of Electrolux personnel, that the sweet lunatics express themselves and brighten up the landscape and the gallery. (…) They have curious quirks. As soon as they see a big construction site, a highway under construction, an expanding airport, a threatened forest, they dig up the hatchet. That is, they climb trees or bury themselves. »

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