April 28, 1912: Bonnot killed by the police in Choisy-le-Roi

April 28, 1912: Bonnot killed by the police in Choisy-le-Roi

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Title: The gang at Bonnot: the end of a bandit.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Date shown: April 28, 1912

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - T. Le Magesite web

Picture reference: 06-524620 / 983.39.14

The gang at Bonnot: the end of a bandit.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - T. Le Mage

Publication date: July 2008

Historical context

A cornered criminal and police

The man surrounded on all sides who died in Choisy-le-Roi on April 28, 1912, found himself there following a chain of fortuitous circumstances. For his teacher, he is "an intelligent but lazy, unruly, insolent pupil, constantly chased out of class, brutal towards his comrades". For a man already at bay, it seems that a point of no return crystallizes at this point: he very quickly switches from delinquency to criminality. In Paris, he quickly found accomplices among the anarchists who recognized themselves in illegalism, and practiced "individual recovery". This murder, which exacerbated the resentment of law enforcement officials several times played out in previous months, took place on April 24, 1912, just four days before Bonnot's death.

Image Analysis

The grip of the Dubois garage, Bonnot's ultimate refuge

This painting is divided into 4 parts, the main scene at the bottom being surmounted by a frieze composed of another image and two small portraits on either side. Very realistic, the style of this oil on canvas evokes the illustrations of the large circulation press of the 1910s. This element authorizes, despite the anonymity of the author and the lack of information which results from it, the hypothesis of 'a thematic exhibition dedicated to the famous bandits during the interwar period. Bad after being injured by Inspector Jouin a few days earlier, Bonnot was offered asylum by a certain Dubois, who had a garage in Choisy: an iron bed in a room with faded tapestries and questionable furniture. , if we believe the main part of the picture. Theft and car make-up brought Bonnot and Dubois to rub shoulders a few years earlier. The friend is loyal, but a whistleblower quickly spotted the outlaw. So at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday April 28, 1912, the security officers and their leaders began to surround the building. The police are not hiding, and an intense shootout does not take long to break out. Reinforcements are requested in order to avoid losses on the side of the security forces as much as possible. At 9 am, the police prefect Lépine arrives in person on the scene, already invaded by onlookers. In order not to resort to the army and to retain the credit for Bonnot's capture by the police, it was decided to use dynamite to blow up the building. The explosive is hidden in a fodder cart belonging to a local resident (upper central box). He insists on holding the reins of his horse with his partner, which explains the presence of two civilians with the three men in uniform in the image. After two misfires, the charge finally explodes, more or less collapsing the building. Guichard, leader of the "anarchist brigade" shown here with a cap and jacket, rushes forward with a gun in hand with other police officers. They find Dubois dead, then Bonnot dying, who fires a final volley from his mattress before being silenced.

Interpretation

"Force remains with the law"?

"Force remains with the law" is a sentence taken from an article in Small Journal following the death of Bonnot, where we are pleased that the run "ended as it should be so that public morals found its account: the persistent challenge that the sinister gang posed to the police became a formidable threat. When the social armor is chipped, all the body's blood is spilled. " Yet questions are asked as soon as Bonnot’s death is announced. The police deployment (hundreds of men), the use of explosives are questioned. Should the Republic use Ravachol's methods? On the other hand, faced with armed individuals who no longer care about their existence, it is difficult to find other ways out. Sentenced to death without trial, Bonnot wrote some heavy words shortly before his death: “I have the right to live. Every man has the right to live and since your stupid and criminal society claims to forbid me, well, too bad for you ”. However, these ambiguities around the conditions of capture of public enemy number one do not undermine the resolution of the police, who, in Nogent, will proceed in the same way to eliminate the last cronies, Garnier and Valet.

  • anarchism
  • Bonnot band
  • banditry

To cite this article

François BOULOC, "April 28, 1912: Bonnot killed by the police in Choisy-le-Roi"


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