Paris Court tries Anti-Racism Activist for Statue Attack

Written by John Leicester
Published on 11th May 2021

A worker from Paris’ City Hall cleans the statue of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, in Paris. Trial began on Monday for Franco Lollia, accused of covering in graffiti a statue that honours Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a 17th century royal minister who wrote rules governing slaves in France’s overseas colonies and stands in front of the National Assembly, a prominent landmark overlooking the Seine River in Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

Franco Lollia, a Black activist, is on trial for defacing a statue of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a 17th century Royal Minister who was responsible for creating laws that governed slaves in France’s colonies. Commonly referred to as Colbert’s “Black Code”, these laws included allowing slaves to be branded, executed for attempted escapes and have their ears cut off.

Lollia sprayed “state Negrophobia” in red paint on the statue. He stated that it was a political act to expose France’s deep-seated racism, which was demonstrated by erecting a statue in honour of Jean-Baptiste Colbert outside the National Assembly. The penalty for defacing property is a fine or community service. The prosecution has demanded Lollia pay a fine of 800 euros.

 Lollia’s legal team argued that the defendant acted in self-defence and implored the judge to consider France’s past colonial atrocities as “a criminal state” in considering Lollia’s actions. Lollia’s legal team have put France on trial, exposing France’s past colonial injustices. The trial has taken place during the national annual commemoration of the abolishment of slavery.

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